Burgundy is one my all time favourite places to go to in France. Found central-east of France, or south-east of Paris, Burgundy, along with Bordeaux, is why France is known for its wine.
Beaune, the capital, is where Côte d’Or wines are sampled and celebrated like no other. Côte d’Or, or golden hillsides, lends its name to the gloriously warm colour the leaves turn on the vineyards in autumn. A must see! Seriously the most perfect backdrop whilst enjoying a delicious glass of ‘Puligny Montrachet’. Bliss.
And of course there’s the Museum of the Wine of Burgundy, where you can learn about the area’s wine history. I went with a friend, who despite not drinking, still said she had a wonderful time looking at the antique winepresses and
strolling around the beautiful grounds of the museum housed in the gothic ‘Palais des Ducs et des Etats de Bourgogne’ (Palace of the Dukes and Estates of Burgundy), located in the centre of Dijon.
Although there’s no actual wine tasting at the museum, Burgundy is definitely not short on places to sample some wonderful wines. Countless wine shops offer free tasting, so look out for ‘Dégustation Gratuite’ (free tasting) signs. Although a word of warning: you are expected to purchase! My friends and I (minus the one friend who doesn’t drink and drive!) went for the ‘Marché aux Vins in Beaune’. For about £10 you get a tasting glass and have approximately an hour (a time limit rarely enforced) to explore the subterranean cellars where the wine is kept, sampling as you learn about each one. Our guide was so passionate about the wines it was infectious, even for my friend who does not drink!
Of course there is much more to Burgundy than just the wine.
Food is also essential: In its 2012 edition, the Michelin guide awarded stars to 24 restaurants in Burgundy: in Dijon,
Beaune, Nevers, Chablis, Tournus, Mâcon and in many other smaller towns and villages. Three restaurants in Burgundy received three stars (of the 25 three-star Michelin establishments in all of France).
The religion also lays claim to several Burgundy recipes and dishes who have now become national dishes, such as ‘boeuf bourguignon’, ‘côte de boeuf bourguignonne’ and ‘fondue bourguignonne’, ‘coq au vin’ and many others! ‘Vive la Bourgogne’ is an association of tradesmen deeply involved in promoting the region through different events, like the Rungis event which promotes during two days Burgundy products in this city.
And to shake off all these calories, Burgundy is best discovered by bike on a choice of magnificent trails on the ‘Canal de Bourgogne’ or ‘Canal du Nivernais’ towpath, or mountain biking trails in the Morvan. The Morvan Forest, a natural park covering nearly a quarter of a million hectares, is actually a paradise for nature lovers.
Burgundy’s agenda is full of cultural events too:
The ‘Peplum Nights’ (29th to 31st July 2012) where every evening, in the Theatre des Roches in Alesia, spectators come to hear French speaking songs by a new singer, a famous artist and an international new face.
The ‘Burgundy’s grands crus festival’ (21st June to 3rd October 2012) combines the marriage of fine music and fine wine and the architectural heritage of the ‘Cinq Cités’, each with its own style, artistic strategy and oenological events.
‘Les Zaccros d’ma rue’ in Nevers and ‘Chalon dans la Rue’ both every July offer street shows in which spectators become actors.
There are so many events happening in Burgundy that it is impossible to list them all.
Whatever interests you, Burgundy is definitely the place to discover.