Exploring Burgundy, France
Wine-lovers looking for a luxurious French experience should plan their visit beyond the borders of Paris and head east to Burgundy. Celebrated for its world-renowned wine, Burgundy was once the home of dukes and other prestigious personalities who helped to establish its power and influence in France since the Middle Ages.
This influence left behind plenty of châteaux, museums, and even Roman ruins to explore—not to mention many wineries to visit. With so much to see, figuring out where to start can be a bit overwhelming. The following are highlights of Burgundy that will leave you with a great sense of this beautiful destination as well as a good taste of what it has to offer.
Getting there from Paris is easy. I recommend taking the train from Paris-Gare de Lyon. If you are arriving from Charles de Gaulle airport, this may require a transfer. I also recommend starting your visit to the region in Mâcon.
Viewfinder Tip: A fun and doable road trip vacation including plenty of beautiful sights would be Paris to Dijon with a final stop in Lyon.
First stop: Mâcon
Its colorful architecture and warm temperature give Mâcon a Mediterranean feel. The River Saône separates it from the island of Saint-Laurent-sur-Saône, easily accessible from the Saint Laurent bridge and worth the trip for the perfect view of Mâcon city while sipping wine and dining at the Michelin starred L’autre Rive.
Spend a day touring ruins, churches, gardens, and museums. And if you are there in April, make sure to check out the annual wine fair. Because of limited parking in the city and it being so pedestrian-friendly anyway, I would recommend waiting until you are ready to venture on before picking up a car rental to explore further into the countryside.
Wine tasting at Pouilly and Fuissé
Just a 7-minute drive from Macon are the vineyards of Pouilly-Fuissé, nestled between the towns of Solutré-Pouilly and Fuissé. The prehistoric Rock of Solutré overlooks the vineyards and was made famous by French President François Mitterrand, whose annual hikes to the summit often drew media attention. Now travelers can take the hike and enjoy the gorgeous views below, or explore from below while hiking the Via Agrippa, an ancient Roman trail dating back to the 1st century, which runs right through the vineyards and straight into the center of Vergisson village. For extra motivation, plan a stop into Roger Lassarat winery for some tastings.
In adjacent Fuissé, plan a stay at the quaint La Maison du Hérisson, a B&B in Fuissé led by award-winning chef Sebastian Chambru, who also owns and runs L’O des Vignes wine bar and restaurant just steps away.
Capital city, Dijon
The artistic center of Dijon was once home to the Dukes of Burgundy until the late 15th century. More than just famous for the mustard of the same name or spiced bread I always crave when I visit, Dijon became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2015. Over the course of the past two years it has made efforts to become a cleaner, more pedestrian-friendly city, with entire streets converted into walkways and a new tram system to move people around. It is one of the top gastronomic destinations in France (Lyon and Beaune—the wine capital of Burgundy) are the two others and they are producers of some of the best wine in France.
Stay at the Chapeau Rouge and have access to the best of the city, all without having to get into a car. Plan a wine tasting tour, enjoy a farm-to-table experience at Les Domaines qui Montent or go exploring solo throughout the city with the help of a self-guided tour organized by the tourism board where must-see sites are marked with a small owl on the path. Indulge in local favorites of snails, Bress chicken in red wine, and Charolais beef. Taste the wine from the celebrated Côte-d’Or.
Most of all, prepare to love this region and aim to explore it slowly. Every small village and town in between is its own treasure and you want to miss any of it.
What is your must-visit wine destination?