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We are all familiar with Burgundy wine, and beef casserole is so much more romantic when it’s called “boeuf bourguignon” but Burgundy is often overlooked as a holiday destination in its own right by the British. Burgundy, or Bourgogne, is an inland region in the south east of France. It is highly recommended to take a sojourn on the long drive down the A6 autoroute, either from Calais or an apartment in Paris to a Rhone Alpes ski chalet or further south to a Cote d’Azur villa on the Mediterranean Sea. Convenient airports for the Burgundy holidaymaker are at Paris - Charles de Gaulle CDG, Lyon or Geneva.
Côte d'Or, Saône et Loire, Yonne and Nièvre are the four departments that make up Burgundy and the region is dominated by water. The River Yonne joins the Seine to the north, which surfaces near Dijon. The River Loire flows along Burgundy’s western border and to the east the equally impressive River Saône flows south. Hire a boat by the hour or the day and discover the 800 miles of rivers and canals in Burgundy from your cosy holiday home.
Nièvre is well known for its white wine, Pouilly Fumé. The vineyards around Pouilly-Sur-Loire are the appellation. Fumé is French for 'smokey', illustrating the quality of the wine. The only grape allowed in the Pouilly-Fumé AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) is Sauvignon Blanc, which produces wines that are generally crisp and tart. Of course a wine tour of the vineyards makes a great vacation in Burgundy, discovering the famous and expensive wines of the Côte d'Or Grand Cru vineyards.
The Morvan Regional Natural Park, covering 500 000 acres, is stunningly beautiful in the centre of Burgundy and hosts a plethora of flora and fauna;150 different bird species and wild boar in its huge forests (which provide the oak for the wine barrels) rolling hills and six serene lakes perfect for watersports like canoeing and windsurfing. Perfect 'campagne' for rambling, mountain biking on the VTT trails and even horse riding, all of which can be enjoyed from your Burgundy last minute cottage accommodation or gite in Lorraine.
Festivals are an enjoyable way of life in Burgundy. Throughout the year there are gastronomic and wine festivals almost everywhere, many music festivals including baroque, cajun, blues and jazz, antiquarian book fairs and even hot air ballooning. Whether you are staying at a gite in Beaune, Chalon-sur-Saône, Châteauneuf or Mâcon you will find “son et lumière” evenings at a nearby chateau or cathedral in the summer months, literally sound and light shows.
If you toast your good fortune in discovering unspoilt Burgundy with a Kir apéritif, traditionally made with one third crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) and two thirds white wine (Bourgogne ‘Aligoté’) then you will have an excuse to return again in November to welcome the new season’s Beaujolais Nouveau. Sample Epoisses cheese with caution, powerfully strong when mature and the perfect accompaniment to Burgundy Grand Cru. Santé!