Taking wine tours around some of France’s most famous wine-producing regions can sometimes feel like you’re on a conveyor belt, being bussed from one vineyard to the next without the time to really take in the essence of the area you’re visiting. |
The slow, leisurely pace of a hotel barge is the ideal way to get to know Burgundy, one of France’s gentlest winegrowing landscapes, and a perfect base from which to explore.
Here is our selection of the best the region has to offer.
The Hospices de Beaune
Wine tours of Burgundy usually stop off in the region’s capital Beaune, so make sure you put some time aside to explore the fifteenth-century hôtel-Dieu, Hospices de Beaune.
Built in 1443, it was intended to feed and care for the poor and disadvantaged. Over the next 500 years the charitable institution was gifted vineyards by wealthy landowners so that today its wine estate stretches over 60 hectares.
A Meal at Le Montrachet
Treat yourself to a truly elegant Burgundy experience with a meal at the Michelin-starred Hotel Le Montrachet, 12km outside of Beaune.
Set in a pretty wine-producing village amongst the vineyards of Montrachet, this nineteenth-century inn serves refined Burgundy food accompanied, of course, by the very best wines from the region.
The medieval village of Saint Bris is often not included on wine tours of Burgundy because the local vineyards grow Sauvingon Blanc grapes, as opposed to the region’s more usual Chardonnay. It is, however, well worth a visit.
Those who take the time to explore this pretty stone-built village will discover its fascinating network of twelfth-century cellars which run extensively beneath the village and are still used to store wine today.
Abbey de Fontenay
No tour of the region would be complete without a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Abbey de Fontenay.
Founded in 1118 by Saint Bernard, much of the original Abbey is still standing. The Cistercian architecture, serene gardens, cloisters, dormitories and scriptorium offer a fascinating window into the historic Cistercian way of life.
Founded by Augustus during the early Roman Empire, Autun still boasts some impressive Roman sights today, making it a very interesting town to visit.
The Roman amphitheatre (which in its day would have seated 17,000 Romans), the two arched city gates and the walls of the Temple of Janus are all still standing.
But there is more to this beautiful historic town than just Roman relics. It was also a seat for the Dukes of Burgundy and has some impressive medieval architecture. The Cathedral of Autun, for example, was built in the 12th Century and is an important example of Romanesque architecture.
Whichever part of Burgundy you choose to explore during your wine tours, try to make time to stop off at some of its historic and cultural sites to learn more about the compelling story of this beautiful region.
Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider of all-inclusive, luxury barge holidays. Offering holidays to France and other great destinations, itineraries include wine tours and other cultural and themed activities. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.
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