Burgundy Travel Guide

France  #5 in Best Wine Vacations

Burgundy Area Map


The historic Burgundy region is filled with picturesque cities, towns and villages, each with their own charms. Many travelers choose to stay in Dijon or Beaune, relying on a car to explore the many villages just outside the region's main cities and towns. Wherever you choose to hang your hat, you'll have a variety of accommodation styles at your fingertips, including châteaux, bed-and-breakfasts and historic hotels.

The capital of the Burgundy region, Dijon charms travelers. Its cobblestone streets meander beside medieval and Renaissance-style buildings, such as the Palais des Ducs et des États de Bourgogne (Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy), which houses the magnificent Musée des Beaux-Arts. Dijon is also known for its particular style of mustard, which goes by the same name: Visit La Maison Maille for samples and souvenirs. Additionally, the city offers hundreds of restaurants. Some boast Michelin stars, such as La Maison des Cariatides, while others are known for their homey Burgundian cuisine (think: snails or escargot, boeuf bourguignon and chicken in wine or coq au vin) and affordable prices, such as Le Berger du Temps and Restaurant Stéphane Derbord. A stop at the covered market Les Halles, which fills with vendors selling produce, cheese, charcuterie and more, is another must-do. 

Stretching south from Dijon are the Côte d'Or vineyards, a tract of Burgundy known for its wines. Keep in mind that this area is split into two winegrowing areas –  Côte de Nuits to the north, which is known for producing full-bodied reds, such as pinot noirs, and Côte de Beaune to the south, which is known for its dry chardonnays and pinot noirs. Wineries like the Château du Clos de Vougeot and the Château de Pommard are must-sees here, and for an in-depth look at the art of winemaking, a stop at L'Imaginarium museum might be in order. 

Beaune is the unofficial capital of the Côte d'Or winegrowing region, and as such, it runs on wine. Beaune is the place to pick up souvenir bottles and sample various vintages in tasting rooms. In fact, underneath much of the city are cellars, where wine is being aged right beneath travelers' feet. Even if you're not an oenophile, Beaune is sure to delight you. It's an old city wrapped by stone ramparts, lined on its southeastern curve by a picturesque stream. It also contains various attractions, such as the Hospices de Beaune, a magnificently preserved 15th-century hospital, and the gorgeous Basilique Collégiale Notre Dame.

Starting in the 12th century with Bernard of Clairvaux's call for the Second Crusade, the village of Vézelay became a major pilgrimage site along the Camino de Santiago route. In fact, visitors can still enter the city by this footpath (GR 654), which leads to La Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This hilltop village offers more than just religious history, though. Vézelay is also home to Musée Zervos, a modern art museum with works by Alexander Calder, Wassily Kandinsky and Joan Miró, among others.

The crowning point of this charming town, which sits less than 60 miles southwest of Dijon, is the Cathédrale Saint-Lazare d'Autun, known colloquially as Autun Cathedral. But visitors should also spend some time strolling along the medieval city walls and stopping by the ancient Théâtre Romain.

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