LANDSCAPE: Norman abbeys, châteaux with glazed roofs, ducal towns and charming villages make Burgundy a historic region with a glorious heritage. Chambertin, Clos-Vougeot, Romanée-Conti or Corton are just a few of the world-famous vintages whose vineyards press together on the small wine-growing area of Côtes de Beaune and Côtes de Nuits. These vineyards are closely linked to the rise of the religious orders, which tilled the soil and built the masterpieces of Norman art found throughout the region, including: the abbeys at Cluny, Vézelay, Autun and Tournus, among others. Burgundy 's illustrious past can still be detected in its historic remains, while its present is devoted to good living. After all, this is a region with exceptional cuisine and natural surroundings.
One of the best ways to explore the region and soak up its atmosphere is by boat. Burgundy is the perfect setting for waterway holidays, including the beautiful Canal de Bourgogne. The region is criss-crossed by 1200 kilometres of navigable waterways through the rich and sumptuous heartland of France encompassing the upper valley of the Saône, the vine-carpeted Côte d'Or and Hautes Côtes, the Plateau de Langres. and the Morvan massif to the west. Further west, the Loire flows through the charming Nièvre region.
PRIME ATTRACTIONS:Visit the Cistercian Abbey of Fontenay, founded by St. Bernard in 1118, and wander through its splendid gardens studded with the fountains for which it is named.The appealing town of Troyes has a wealth of sights and things to do including: ancient architecture, enchanting streets, magnificent churches, and a seemingly endless choice of excellent restaurants.
FOOD & WINE: The region is a gastronomic citadel: boeuf bourguignon and jambon persillé (ham pate with parsley); tarte bourguignon (beef and mushrooms in a cream sauce) and gougère (choux pastry with cheese). For cheese, look for mild époisse or cîteaux. Some of Burgundy's wine goes into Dijon's famous mustards, while blackcurrants from the Hautes Côtes make sorbets, clafoutis and crème de cassis.
Burgundy is synonymous with deep red wines such as Pommard, Volnay, Beaujolais, and the choicest of whites from Côte de Beaune. An attractive curiosity found at the edge of vineyards in Burgundy are many rose bushes. To the casual observer they appear to have no more purpose than as decorative adornments. The true reason for their presence is far more practical; because the rose is very susceptible to mildew, it acts as a warning prior to the disease affecting the priceless vines. When the vigneron sees the first signs of mildew on his roses, he immediately sprays his vines with copper sulphate solution to prevent damage.
HISTORY: Burgundy emerged as a grand Duchy around the year 1000, the same time as the Benedictine foundations of Vézelay and Cluny became centres of learning in Europe. From these, evolved the magnificent schools of Burgundian Romanesque and Gothic architecture.
ACTIVITIES: Horse riding, cycling and walking are extremely pleasant here, and many villages also have swimming pools and tennis courts. Sailing, swimming and canoeing are available in the Parc Régional du Morvan lakes.
SOUVENIRS: No visit would be complete without the purchase of a few bottles of the famed local vintages. Three of France's best wine growing areas are in Burgundy: Chablis, the Côte d' Or and Beaujolais. You're hardest task will be choosing which to buy!
CLIMATE: Generally, summers are hot - but Burgundy enjoys a climate as subtle as her wines. A dry early Spring, and a damp May, are followed by warm sunny days right up until the October harvest.
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