Explore Burgundy - Day Trips from Paris - Travel Planner Independent

Explore Burgundy

by Youliana Veltcheva
January 10, 2020

Hospice de Baune
Hospice de Baune

Some travelers ignore the French countryside in favor of the more popular capital. However, those who decide to explore the less visited Burgundy will be rewarded with a memorable experience. Located in east-central France, it has rich history and some remarkable buildings, castles as well as some Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals.

What is Burgundy famous for?

Burgundy is the birthplace of the world’s highest quality and most expensive wines. It is the complex, velvety and mysterious Pinot Noir and the light, gentle, stylish Chardonnay, capturing every detail of the land and soil, on which it is grown, that wins its worldwide reputation. The outstanding wine, coupled with the incredibly approachable and friendly wine-growers, who take pride in what they do, is what wins your heart. But besides great wine, Burgundy has rich history, heritage, unique architecture and spectacular scenery. The beautiful countryside and charming medieval villages take you back in time in an unforgettable experience.

Burgundy wine cellar
Burgundy wine cellar

Fun Facts about Burgundy:

  • Did you know that Pinot Noir’s juice is clear and has no color? To obtain its red/violet color the grapes are soaked with the skins of the grapes, which have the bright color. If they are not macerated, but directly vinified, they would have the color of white wine. In fact, the Crémant de Bourgogne Blanc de Noir wines are an example of that.
  • Did you know that Dijon mustard’s name originated from Burgundy’s capital Dijon? Dijon mustard became famous in 1856 when a French painter in Dijon changed one of its ingredients and substituted it for verjus - unripe grape juice.
  • Did you know that the Eiffel tower is named after Gustave Eiffel, born in Dijon, Burgundy? In 1879 Gustave founded the company that would design the Eiffel tower.
  • Did you know that the price of wine, such as Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Grand Cru, Cote de Nuits, France can reach the skyrocketing number of $20,810? Some of the grand cru and premium cru wines can cost the same. They are generally priced based on the level of the appelation of the wine. But wine pricing has its own complexity and is based on many factors. To find out more see this article.
  • Did you know that the monks of Burgundy patiently developed methods for cultivated vineyards between the 6th and 15th century?
  • Did you know that the Burgundy Canal stretches 150 miles, connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean sea by way of the Seine and Yonne rivers, passing through nine communes and cities?

Burgundy Wine

Burgundy has 5 wine-growing areas, listed below. Within each area there are multiple vineyards that are further divided based on appellation. There are more than 600 appellations and sub-appellations. The quality of the wine produced by wine-makers is marked on every bottle with Grand Cru, reflecting the highest quality. To be classified as such, wine must be made from grapes of the allowed variety from a regulated patch of land and vines that are at least 3 years of age, producing a certain yield. Even with the established classification of wine, Burgundy has some declassified wines that do not fall in either category.

There are, for the most part, two types of wine, produced - white Chardonnay and red Pinot Noir. The Chablis wine-growing area produces 100% Chardonnay with only 7 climats Grand Cru Chablis AOP and 40 climats of Premier Cru Chablis AOP appellations. Cote d’Or area combines Cote de Nuits and Cote de Beaune. Cote de Nuits’s wine is almost entirely Pinot Noir, with 24 Grand Cru appellations. It consists of nine villages, located in the Northern end of Cote d’Or. Cote de Beaune has 8 Grands Cru appellations and consists of 18 villages, located in the southern end of Cote d’Or. Côte Chalonnaise produces both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The village of Bouzeron is famous for its Aligote wine. Mâconnais is the most southerly area, producing predominantly Chardonnay (80% of all wines), and some Gamay.

Burgundy wine
Burgundy wine

    Quality Classification
  • Grand Cru - 1% of the wines from Burgundy top climats; Popular Wines: Romanee Conti, Montrachet, La Tache
  • Premier Cru - 10% of wines from Burgundy exceptional climats; Popular Wines: Domaine Francoise Raveneau
  • Village Wines - 37% - wines from one of the 44 villages of Burgundy
  • Regional Wines - 52% - wines from grapes, grown anywhere in Burgundy
    Wine Types
  • Chardonnay (white), accounting for 51% of land under vine
  • Pinot Noir (red), with 39,5%
  • Gamay (red), with 2,5%
  • Aligoté (white), with 6%
  • Sauvignon, César, Pinot Beurot, Sacy, Melon , and a few other account for 1%
    Wine growing areas:
  • Chablis
  • Côte de Nuits
  • Côte de Beaune
  • Côte Chalonnaise
  • Mâconnais
    Wine terms glossary
  • Terroir - a recipe of different ingredients, such as top soil, elevation, angle the vines are planted, micro-climate and lastly but most importantly the underlying subsoil and rock with its multi layers.
  • Climat(s) - vineyard plots that have been combined within a boundary based on specific geological conditions, distinguishing them from their neighbours and established over several centuries.
  • Domaine - a specification on the wine label that indicated the owner of the vineyard himself has produced the wine.
  • Appellation - the official classification of the quality of vineyards, such as village,communal, premier cru and grand cru appellations.
  • Varietal - made from a single specified variety of grapes.

Burgundy Wine
Burgundy vineyard

To delve into the nitty gritty of everything about wine in Burgundy, read more here.

Burgundy Gastronomy

Some of the traditional food of Burgundy, paired with a glass of local wine is an exquisite experience of your taste buds. Most of the dishes feature meats, cooked in wine with a combination of side vegetables. If you haven’t tried snails or frog legs, this is the place to do it. Variety of cheeses come from the region. Some of the more popular are: Chaorce, St-Florentin, Époisses.

    Traditional Meals
  • Boeuf bourguignon - beef stew braised in Burgundian red wine
  • Pôchouse - fish stew in white wine, made of two lean and two fatty fish
  • Coq au vin - chicken, braised in wine
  • Cuisses de grenouille - lightly fried frog legs with garlic and parsley
  • Oeufs en meurette - poached eggs in red wine sauce, called meurette
  • Poulette de Bresse- high quality chicken from Bresse in a white sauce
  • Escargots a la Bourgognen - snails first boiled in bouillon and then baked with garlic and parsley
  • Jambon a la Chablisienne - a casserole of Paris ham in a Chablis wine sauce, creme and tomato concentrate
  • Gougeres - light pastry dough filled with cheese
  • Sorbet au cassis - blackcurrants sorbet

Burgundy Festivals and Events

Burgundy’s festivals are like its wines - varied, joyful - a celebration of life. They are a reflection of the joy and pride of its people. Whether it is a celebration of wine, the magic of music and art, or exquisite cuisine, it fills everybody with jubilation and excitement.

Burgundy Wine Festival
Saint Vincent Tournante

  • Saint Vincent Tournante is one of the main wine festivals, honoring the patron saint of wine-making Saint Vincent. Participating in this colorful festival is a great way to experience not only the traditional wine celebration, pride and terroir, but also see some traditional Burgundian folklore.
  • À pas contés’ festival takes place in February in Dijon for a period of two weeks. It is a fun family event tailored towards children with theatre, music, circus, dance, and workshops for play and learning, including language immersion sessions.
  • Medieval Festival takes place in May in Semur-en-Auxois and is fun filled with activities, such as medieval theatrical shows, concerts and a traditional horse race.
  • Les Montgolfiades is an official European hot air balloon festival in May with over 50 participating teams, music, demonstrations, games.
  • Blues Festival takes place in Le Creusot during the last weekend of June and features a range of blues, jazz, and gospel out in the open, with fun activities for children to ensure the best family experience.
  • Sun Festival takes place in Parc Natural Régional du Morvan at the Lac des Settons with the main goal of the event to get people to be more in touch with nature, featuring sport activities, music, theatre, nature walks, discussions and many more.
  • International Food Festival takes place in Dijon in October and November and features regional and national food and wine.
  • Jazz Festival in Nevers takes place in early November andcelebrates jazz music with over 25 different performing groups.
  • Les Trois Glorieuses de Bourgogne is another popular wine festival that takes place in Beaune every third weekend in November. As its name suggests the three glorious days include Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The event features a colorful street fair, wine tasting and a world famous wine auction, which is dedicated to charity and oftentimes raises in excess of 5 million euro.

A Day Trip from Paris to Burgundy

Paris is around 300 km from Burgundy, but the high speed train takes only about a couple of hours. The train time schedule allows to plan a perfect day trip to Burgundy from Paris, without the need for an overnight stay. Here's our selection of three breathtaking places that can be visited in a day.

Vezelay is located in a beautiful setting on a hill, with its majestic basilica at the top of the hill and an imposing Porte Nueve at the lower part of the village, charming cafes, galleries, and houses lining the main street. The basilica is also the beginning of one of the routes of the French pilgrims to the church of St James at Santiago de Compostella in Spain. Listed as “one of the most beautiful villages in France”, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Vezelay
Vezelay

Fontenay Abbey is the oldest Cistercian abbey in the world with beautiful symmetrical lines and harmonious proportions and remarkably well preserved.

Burgundy Fontenay Abbey
Burgundy Fontenay Abbey

Noyers sur Sereins is a charming village along the river Sereine with beautiful half-timbered houses, small town squares and medieval arcades, built in gothic style in the 15th and 16th century. Among the sights to see here are the town hall, dating back to the 12th century, the church of Our Lady, the Golden Fleece house, the wash house from the early 19th century, the Trade Guild house, etc.

Noyers sus Sereins
Noyers sus Sereins

If visiting the French capital for a few days, a Day Trip to Burgundy is a must! It is an excellent way to get off the beaten path and immerse yourself in the local culture. Whether you plan your travel around a festival, sightseeing, or wine-tasting, you will be left in awe of this French jewel.

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