The Burgundy region of France covers much of the eastern central portion of the country. Bourgogne, as the French call it, is dotted with sleepy villages bordered by canals and miles and miles of rolling farmland. While most visitors flock to France’s more popular destinations (ahem, Paris), Burgundy has some of the country’s most memorable food and wine. Fly into Paris or Lyon, then take an easy, slow-paced drive through this bucolic region.
Burgundy’s capital, Dijon, is a favorite European destination for architecture buffs. The commanding Palace of the Dukes and Estates of Burgundy sit in the town’s center square, blending Gothic and French baroque architecture. The palace also houses the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon, one of the oldest fine art museums in France. The Grand Hotel La Cloche Dijon MGallery is a 5-star hotel and spa located right in the historic district—perfect for exploring the town. The best way to tour this charming and historic village is by following the Owl’s Trail, a foot path marked by an owl that guides trampers through the town’s 22 key attractions. Named for the Owl of Notre Dame de Dijon, guests will want to rub the owl’s statue with their left hand for luck.
Be sure to visit the famous Dijon food market, Les Halles, designed by Gustave Eiffel (yes, that Eiffel). It’s a spectacle unto itself. Dozens of purveyors offer a dizzying selection of mushrooms, cheeses, meats, produce, fruits and vegetables, baked goods and prepared foods.
Next, take a short drive to the charming village of Beaune and tour the Hospices de Beaune, a military hospital that served as a religious hospice up until the 1970s and is riddled with history. The hospice also hosts an annual wine auction, one of the most famous charity events in the world.
Burgundians are passionate about food and wine. Two of the region’s most iconic dishes are boeuf Bourguignon and coq au vin, though Dijon is probably most famous for its mustard, made with fermented white wine, and the town is filled with mustard shops. Bread is a classical French favorite but in Burgundy, you’ll want to try a gougère, a delicate, cheesy baked puff. On your drive, you’ll pass dozens of goat farms, which produce some of the world’s most exquisite goat cheese. But goats aren’t the only farm animal you must stop and see. One of the region’s greatest delicacies is escargot, and you can actually visit a snail farm to see how the little creatures are raised and prepared.
Burgundy’s Chardonnay grapes produce some of the world’s finest, and most expensive, Grand Cru and Premier Cru wines. The region’s small family wineries also produce a number of classic French wines, including Pinot Noirs, Chablis and Beaujolais. Take a private tour of the Côte de Nuits and enjoy tastings of these world class wines. If you’ve ever enjoyed a Kir Royale cocktail (Kir liqueur mixed with Champagne), you might be surprised to know that Kir is produced in Burgundy, from the region’s lush and abundant blackcurrants.
Burgundy can offer a truly authentic French vacation experience filled with interesting history and architecture—and of course, great food and wine.