Full of outstanding natural heritage, Burgundy-Franche-Comté is a destination of choice for lovers of rural tourism and unspoilt landscapes.
Known all over the world for its prestigious vineyards and authentic cuisine, this lovely, rustic region will delight you with its peaceful hedged farmland, expansive vineyards, mysterious forests, mountainous massifs, rivers, big lakes and countless ponds. For those looking to rest and recuperate, nothing beats a hike in the Ballons des Vosges, Morvan or Haut-Jura Regional nature parks, a romantic stroll on the peaceful Mille Étangs Plateau or a cycle ride along the pleasant Saône-et-Loire Greenway. And if you want to unwind amid lush greenery while enjoying the water, head to Lake Les Settons in Nièvre, Lake Saint-Point in Doubs, or the lakes of Chalain and Vouglans in Jura!
As well as these natural treasures, the area has some very interesting architectural heritage. Cities of Art and History with remarkable buildings, like Dijon and its palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, Besançon and its Vauban citadel, Auxerre and its Gothic cathedral, Belfort and its majestic Lion, Dole and its old houses, La Charité-sur-Loire and its Clunisian priory, Nevers and its ducal palace, or Montbéliard and its castle of the Dukes of Württemberg, all testify to the region’s glorious past. Equally unmissable are the famous Beaune Hospices, the magnificent Vézelay Basilica, the incredible medieval construction site of Guédelon, the Royal Saltworks at Arc-et-Senans, Mont Beuvray with its marvellous panoramic views and its Bibracte Museum, the site of Alésia with its Gallo-Roman remains and MuséoParc, as well as the abbeys of Cluny, Fontenay and Pontigny, and the castles of Ancy-le-Franc, Bazoches, Berzé-le-Châtel, Cormatin and Tanlay.
As well as being popular with lovers of nature and old buildings, Burgundy-Franche-Comté also delights food and wine connoisseurs. Its authentic and flavoursome gastronomy is a treat for the taste buds, with famous specialities and dishes such as the famous wines of Burgundy and Jura, crème de cassis liqueur, Comté, Époisses and Cancoillotte cheese, Morteau sausage, eggs meurette, coq au vin jaune, potée comtoise stew and gingerbread.
Rock fans won’t want to miss the famous Eurockéennes de Belfort, festival that takes place in early July on the shores of Lake Malsaucy.
The Côte d’Or vineyards extend over a total of 9,445 hectares. The main grape varieties grown there are Pinot Noir for red wines, Chardonnay for whites and Aligoté for white Bourgogne Aligoté. The various vineyards are:
- Côte de Nuits, famous vineyards located on a narrow strip of land going from Dijon to Corgoloin, renowned for its red vintage wines such as Chambertin, Clos de Vougeot, Romanée-Conti, Musigny and many more. The famous Clos de Vougeot castle (12th and 16th centuries), built by Cîteaux monks, is home to the Brotherhood of the Tastevin Knights. In Chenôve, two screw wine presses of the Dukes of Burgundy can be visited.
- Côte de Beaune, renowned vineyards located between Ladoix-Serrigny and Maranges hillside, produces red wines such as Pommard, Volnay, Aloxe-Corton and white wines, such as Corton, Meursault and Montrachet. In Beaune, a wine museum explains the history of the vineyards and their wines.
- Châtillonnais, Auxois and Flavigny.
The Côte-d’Or really are exceptional vineyards. Have a great time wine tasting!
Juras is a small wine region in eastern France which is responsible for some traditional and highly idiosyncratic wine styles. It is close to, but quite distinct from the Swiss Jura.
The region is sandwiched between Burgundy in the west and Switzerland in the east. It is characterized by a landscape of wooded hillsides and the twisting topography of the Jura Mountains.
Jura’s vineyards cover just over 1,850 hectares , forming a narrow strip of land measuring nearly 80 kilometers (50 miles) from north to south. The total acreage is steadily increasing, but still represents less than one tenth of the area under vine here two centuries ago, before phylloxera decimated the region’s vineyards.
Jura’s wines are sold under five core appellations (see the map). The most quantitatively important of these are Arbois and Côtes du Jura.
The Citadel of Besançon (French: Citadelle de Besançon) is a 17th-century fortress in Franche-Comté. It is one of the finest masterpieces of military architecture designed by Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban. The Citadel occupies 11 hectares on Mount Saint-Etienne, one of the seven hills that protect Besançon, the capital of Franche-Comté. Mount Saint-Etienne occupies the neck of an oxbow formed by the river Doubs, giving the site a strategic importance that Julius Caesar recognised as early as 58 BC. The Citadel overlooks the old quarter of the city, which is located within the oxbow, and has views of the city and its surroundings.
The Abbey of Cluny was founded in 910 by William the Pious, Duke of Aquitaine. He dedicated the lands of Cluny to the apostles Peter and Paul, thus protecting the Abbey against the power of the Bishop and the local landowners. He appointed Bernon as the first Abbot. The monks followed the Benedictine Order
Cluny became a model for reforming other monasteries. Very quickly, across Europe, the Abbey became a model for those seeking religious reorganisation, and a multitude of monasteries were placed under the dependency of Cluny.
By the end of the 11th century, Cluny Abbey was one of the most important capitals in Christian Europe. It was at the head of a network of nearly 1,400 dependencies and around 10,000 monks all over Europe
The Hospices de Beaune or Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune is a former charitable almshouse in Beaune, France. It was founded in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin, chancellor of Burgundy, as a hospital for the poor. The original hospital building, the Hôtel-Dieu, one of the finest examples of fifteenth-century Burgundian architecture, is now a museum. Services for patients are now provided in modern hospital buildings.
An important charity wine auction is held in November each year (formerly in the great hall of the Hôtel-Dieu).
On the edge of the Avallonais, Vézelay is a major site of Christendom and a charming hilltop village. The climb to the basilica is almost a rite of passage. Over the centuries many artists and writers have found inspiration here. Spiritual, literary or poetic – the essence of Romanesque art prevails.
n the 12th century Bernard of Clairvaux preached the Second Crusade in Vézelay. The village harboured the relics of Mary-Magdalene and became a major spiritual centre on the Santiago de Compostella pilgrim way.
At its height Vézelay had a population of nearly 10,000 people, including pilgrims from all over Europe. Its cellars, with their tall pillars, provided shelter for more people than the houses could hold!