When you mention Burgundy, or Bourgogne, which is what the French refer to this charming piece of France’s belle France, thoughts turn to sipping aromatic whites and velvety reds. There is more to this nation’s top wine-producing region than just enjoying prestigious vintages among the vines or sipping cloud wine with gourmet lunch pairings. We know you will enjoying visiting this list of fantastic places to visit in Burgundy France.
This predominantly rural region is home to charming towns, Instagram-worthy medieval villages, and ancient abbatial community that beg for slow exploration.
These are the best places to visit in Burgundy France:
The best city for architecture and art
Burgundy’s status symbol since 13 centuries has been multi-colored, patterned tiled roofs. You can crane your neck up to feast on the shimmering tapestry of zigzags while grazing on it. Dijon is known for its diamonds and other geometrical patterns made in ceramic-glazed Terracotta. The capital of the region is filled with stunning medieval and Renaissance architecture, despite its signature rooftops. The municipal museums are free to enter and the museum of fine arts is located in the Gothic-to-Classical palace, where Charles the Bold and other Burgundy princes once gathered. You can scale the Tour Philippe Le Bon neighboring city to get a better idea of its layout.
Visitors who are passionate about contemporary architecture, food, wine, or both will not be able resist Dijon’s groundbreaking Cite Internationale du Vin et de la Gastronomie (International City of Wine and Gastronomy), which opened in a former 13-century orphanage and hospital in Spring 2022.
The best wine region
Every corner of Beaune’s charming town center is home to Burgundy’s wine culture. This wine town, which is part of the vineyard-carpeted Cote d’Or region, is even more beautiful (beautiful?) than its name implies. Gothic architecture is the centerpiece Hotel-Dieu des Hospices de Beaune. It was built as a charity hospital and opened its doors in 1443. The stunning polychrome tiled roof is enough to make you stop in your tracks and drool. Meanwhile, the wine cellars contain some of the most valuable wines in the world.
The whole town feels like a living wine cave. Certainly top of the list for fantastic places to visit in Burgundy France. There are many winetasting options and cellar-tour options. The informative Maison des Climats is a great introduction. In summer 2022, the Cite des Vins et de Climats de Burggogne will open. It is split between the wine towns of Chablis, Macon and Beaune. Beaune’s other “Don’t Miss!” is a look at Burgundy’s last remaining family-run mustard manufacturer where mustard seeds can be milled by stones to make Dijon AOP mustard.
Best region for hilltop villages
The picturesque canal de Bourgogne towpaths meander westward into Pays d’Auxois. This rolling land of mustard fields, wooded hills, and uber-pretty hilltop village is begging for a road trip. Semur-en-Auxois is the fortified hilltop Semur-en-Auxois. It resides on a granite spur at the Armancon River’s hairpin bend. Chateauneuf-en-Auxois is another gorgeous spot to get lost in a cobweb of cobbled lanes laced with attractive houses.
Hidden in this lush landscape lies a pair of extraordinary historical sites: The tranquil, end-of the-road Cistercian Abbey of Fontenay (a Unesco world heritage site) and the sensational MuseoParc alesia, which is located at the exact spot where Julius Caesar defeated Vercingetorix chief of the Gauls in 52 CE.
Best village for epicureans
Visiting the family-run Anis de Flavigny sweet factory in the quaint village of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, a one-hour drive northeast of Dijon, is as much about lifting the lid on a centuries-old epicurean tradition as stuffing yourself silly with the hard-boiled, aniseed-flavored bonbons (sweets) for which the abbatial village is famed.
Les Anis de Flavigny was first created by Benedictine monks in the 16-century Abbaye de Flavigny. It is still headquartered at the abbey. The traditional sweet-making process using natural ingredients (aniseeds, beet sugar, and plant extracts) is unchanged. Fascinating guided tours take you to the abbey’s Carolingian chapels and crypts and is a highlight in our list of fantastic places to visit in Burgundy France. There are also vaulted halls where sweets were made in the 19th century. A museum displays the sweet’s beautiful packaging and tins over the years. It is possible to taste everything.
The best village to experience a medieval vibe
The romance of a French francaise is watching the sun set below the medieval battlements of Noyers-sur-Surein (30km/18.6 mi) southeast of Auxerre. It still has 19 of the original 23 defensive towers dating back to the 13th century. The charming cobbled lanes and gabled houses, as well as the archways that are ensnared within the ancient stone ramparts, look like something out of a movie.
Mooch among art galleries and artisans workshops selling handcrafted leather accessories, or illuminated parchments written in vintage quill. A music recital is held in the church every July. At Les Millesimes, you can enjoy traditional Burgundian coq au vin or jambon au Chablis (wine-infused pork) or vegetarian food at La Vieille Tour. You can end your day on a high note by taking a stroll from the clock-top southern gate of Noyers’ ruined chateau at the top of the hill. The bird’s eye view over rolling pastureland and wooded hills, as well as the River Serein below, is breathtaking.
Best park for outdoor action
You can escape the smog of museums and urban monuments to go into green Burgundy’s Parc Naturel Regional du Movan. This nature park is a haven for wildlife lovers, brimming with beautiful flora and fauna. Start in St-Brisson the main village. Here, a few small but well-considered eco-museums will provide information about local customs, landscapes, and traditions. These are some of the best places to visit in Burgundy France.
The Maison du Parc, St-Brisson offers all the amenities to let your wild side in Morvan’s 3220 km (1243 mi) protected area. You can hike, mountain bike, ride a horse, or try your hand at orienteering. There are also a few rivers and lakes where you can fish for trout. Owl spotting tours after dark and boat trips on Lac des Settons are family favorites, as is a day out at the ancient Gaul-meets-modern-Burgundy, archeological site of Bibracte.
Best village for mindful moments
Follow pilgrims to Vezelay on a hilltop village with tiny doll-house proportions. It is Unesco World Heritage and a honeypot. The main route to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, begins here on steep cobbled streets. A first glimpse of medieval Basilique Ste-Madeleine standing on a rocky spur can be enough to rekindle faith in even the most dejected souls.
You can escape the crowds by following the signposted trail behind Chapelle Ste-Croix. This trail is nicknamed “La Cordelle” after the rope belts worn by Franciscan monks who chose this spot in 13th-century France. This beautiful chapel of stone, covered in climbing grapevines and decorated with climbing grapevines was built in honor Bernard de Clairvaux, who preached the Second Crusade in this area in 1146. It’s a peaceful spot for meditation in deep Burgundian country.
The best region to preserve literary heritage
French literature lovers will love the journey to La Puisaye. It is a rural paradise of dark hills, woods, and flowing creeks. The area is located 40km (25 mi) southwest of Auxerre. This area is most well-known as the birthplace for Colette (1873-1954), French writer, author of La Maison de Claudine, Gigi, and 50 other novels. Much of her work explores her rural Burgundian childhood, beautifully evoked in the Musee Colette, at home – as the enviably stylish French do so effortlessly well – in the village chateau in St-Saveur-en-Puisaye. You want to consider this landscape on your list of fantastic places to visit in Burgundy France.
It would be remiss of you not to stop by Chantier Medieval de Guedelon (7 km) south. This is an interesting building site, where artisans are building – as one does– a fortified castle with only 13th-century construction techniques.