Bienvenue en Bourgogne

Barge

Burgundy is one of the most fascinating of the 22 regions in France,
often labeled as the Land of fine art and living,
Day to day life is to be enjoyed...
but at a snail's pace.
The secret is good food and wine with a dash of glorious landscape.

One of the highlights of the region is cruising on the canal with a barge trip or self-drive boating holiday.

Looking forward to seeing you soon...

The physical boundaries of La Bourgogne begin to the south east of Paris and to the north of Lyon. It is divided into four departments, the Yonne, the Côte d'Or, the Saône et Loire and the Nievre, each department is unique in tradition, landscape and history.

The canal cruises

One of the most important changes for Burgundy was the construction of the Burgundy Canal (Le Canal de Bourgogne). It dramtically changed the social evolution for hundreds of small villages and hamlets. The canal is a masterpiece of pre-industrial revolution technology, spanning more than 250 kilometres in length

The canal struggles to span across the region, slowly winding in smooth curves along the plains, or rising steeply with a concentration of locks which appear like staircases, before reaching the summit at Pouilly en Auxois. For almost two hundred years the waters of this man made canal have carried the weight of wooden or steel hulled barges.

The construction of the canal has changed the destiny of Burgundy, raising its status from a rural farming area to a that of a great state with navigable waterways connecting the north of Europe to the Mediterranean sea.

Today the canal retains a small float of cargo carrying vessels, but it's purpose has temporarily changed to offering vacational cruises on boats.
» Information about the self-drive rental boats (without the need of a licence)
» Information about the hotel barges and crewed charters

Heritage and history

Heritage and history

The Celtics, Romans, Cistercians and the powerful Burgundian Dukes sculpted the towns and villages.

The feudal rule was imposed for many years by the local lords. The dukedom of Burgundy was at one time a large empire spreading though eastern France, into Germany, up to Belgium and the Flanders. Enemies of the French crown and allied with the the English king, the succession of Dukes held a solid frontier which eventually became a province with Louis XI, then finally entering the realm of France at the end of the 17th century.

The Catholic church was a driving force of inspiration and energy, the construction of the basilica Vezelay near Avallon, which was founded in 868 AD. The building of the abbeys of Cluny, Citeaux, La Bussiere built by the Cistercian and Benedictine orders.

There are examples of many of the epochs such as Roman, Gothic and Renaissance such as the castles of Ancey le Franc and Tanlay, or the fortified chateau of Chateauneuf en Auxois.

Burgundy tiled roof.The traditional coloured tiles used on the roofs can be seen in many places. This was not only reserved for the prestigious. The influence came from eastern Europe, but has remained in Burgundy. Even is small villages you can see examples of coloured roofs, which is both appealing and relaxing to the eye.
» More history

Flavors and the cuisine

Wine bottles

As the area is a historical crossroads form the north of Europe to Italy and the Mediterranean coasts, the region has inherited influences from many other cultures and regions.

The ancient trade routes along the Rhone and Saone river valleys have been travelled upon throughout the centuries, bringing spices and ingredients which are used in the local cuisine.

The traditional cuisine is rich and tasty, which can be enjoyed at a very affordable price in many of the small traditional restaurants in villages and towns; whilst the gastronomic restaurants with the highest standards and star ratings can be found in all the corners of Burgundy.

The red grapes used for wine

Wines which were introduced by the Romans as they progressed northwards along the Rhone valley; and then mastered by the monks at Nuits Saint George, creating famous names like Volany, Pommard, Gevery and Aloxe Corton which are now known throughout the world.

The vineyards spread southwards for miles on the slopes of the hills, with many producers still using the traditional methods, oak barrels and years of aging in the coolness of vaulted cellars to give us some of the best know Crus.

As you travel south through the region, you will pass through the wine growing areas of Chablis, Cote de Beaune, Cote de Nuits, Chalonais and Maconais before arriving in the Beaujolais. There is a concentration of Pinot Noir and Chardonay grapes in the vineyards, but also lesser well know names such as the Aligoté white which is used in the famous Kir served as a refreshing aperitif.

Charolais cattle

The varieties of Cheeses are abundant, in all shapes, sizes and colours, strong in character such as the Epoise or mild and fresh. To be tasted with fresh bread and some of the famous red or white wines.

The white Charolais cattle, which can be seen in the green pastures on the hill slopes, bred to give a remarkable quality of beef, which gives us one of Burgundy's most well know dished, the Boeuf Bourguignon.

Markets and local fresh products are plentiful, cultivated in the fertile river plains of the Saone.

The art of Mustards, Cassis, and even Ginger breads are other secret ingredients for a refined cuisine. The art of a gourmet table requires talent and experience which you can find in some of the worlds finest restaurants such as Bernard Loiseau, Joigny, Marc Meneau.

The colours

Countryside

A rainbow of colours from the sunflowers, fields of poppies and suspended baskets full of geraniums. Each season brings a different character and range of tints which show the changing faces of nature. Spring, summer and autumn all have a unique signature, with snow drops, cherry blossom, lilac and in fall a splash of gold, yellow and red when the oak leaves of the Cote d'Or change in autumn.

The landscape

Landscape in the Auxois

The landscape is made gentle rolling hills eroded by the centuries, made of limestone and granite, covered in forest of oak, maple and pine. The rivers Saone, Yonne and Loire have smoothed the lowlands, whilst in the Morvan the hills climb to almost 700 metres above sea-level.
Many south facing slopes will be covered with vineyards, forming parallel lines and changing colours with the different seasons.

Ballooning

Ballooning

Barges and ballooning go together like cheese and wine. With the invention of the brothers Montgolfier who later installed themselves in the famous abbey of Fontennay in the Yonne.

Today, hot-air balloons are part of the blue skies in the early morning or evening, floating above the trees and being carried to unknown destinations by the soft breezes.

Festivals for all to enjoy with launches of more than 50 balloons.

Enjoy a flight and glide over the villages, vine yards and forests, to land somewhere... The event is always celebrated with a glass of wine.

Map of Burgundy

Map of Burgundy, showing the canal. More maps of Burgundy

Remember that this region of France is not spelt Burgandy, but simply Burgundy, like the colour and not the color.