Thanks to its superb gastronomy, fine wines, and low-key atmosphere, Burgundy epitomises the quintessentially French joie de vivre better than any other region in the country.
During the Middle Ages, this region was one the most powerful and influential in the whole of Europe. While those days are long gone and nowadays Burgundy has a predominant provincial feel, the region still bears witness to its past and is peppered with magnificent castles, medieval market towns, and beautiful historical buildings at every turn. Outside of Burgundy's main urban centres, visitors can expect to find spectacular countryside, remote woodlands, and the most picturesque rural landscapes.
Burgundy's climate can be described as semi-continental. The region experiences frequent rainfall during the spring and autumn, as well as changeable and unpredictable weather throughout the year. Snowfall is frequent during the winter, a season that brings unseasonably cold temperatures of up to -10°C. Average temperatures during the summer range between 20°C and 23°C, although thunderstorms are a common occurrence even during the hottest months. Due to the poor weather, it is generally recommended to avoid visiting the region during the winter. Weather-wise, the best time for a holiday in Burgundy is July and August, and the peak season also brings a higher a busy cultural scene.
Burgundy's cities are a beautiful reminder of the historical importance that this region had centuries ago. The capital city, Dijon, is an architectural gem and a pleasure to wander around. Dijon has been hailed as one of the country's most beautiful and inspiring cities and boasts a vibrant cultural scene all-year-round.
Music festivals and concerts are a common occurrence in Burgundy during the summer. Some of the most renowned events in this region include Musicaves (a wine and world music festival held in Givry); Chalon dans la Rue (featuring hundreds of marionette shows, street performances, parades, and storytelling events); the Silent Film Festival held at Beaune; and the folk music festival known as Fete de la Vieille, held in the mountain village of Anost.
Those who prefer a holiday in Burgundy away from urban centers are also well catered for in Burgundy, since a large part of this French region has remained predominantly rural. You will not need to travel far to find your very own oasis of peace and quiet in the heart of France, as the region is dotted with valleys, farmlands, and wilderness areas.
Some highly recommended activities during a holiday in Burgundy include driving the “Route des Grands Crus” wine route, indulging in a gourmet tour; exploring the Burgundy canal or boating along the Saone river; mountain biking or canoeing in Lac des Settons; and horse riding around Saint Fargeau.
Burgundy's typical cuisine is so incredibly delectable that visitors should be warned about the possibility of leaving the region weighing a bit more than when they arrived. Many traditional dishes are prepared with copious amounts of red wine, such as the filling Boeuf bourguignon, a beef stew served in a thick and aromatic wine sauce. The famous coq au vin also originates from Burgundy. Slow-cooked casseroles, white fish dishes, and escargots (snails) are the most prevalent dishes in Burgundy.
There is a number of regional specialties that visitors should sample, most notably jambon persillé (a ham and parsley terrine); andouillette sausages; and the fish stew known as pocheuse. When it's dessert time, locals favour gougères, spiced cheese puffs that can also be eaten as snacks.
The wide selection and undeniable quality of Burgundy wines is a perfectly valid reason to visit the region. Red wines produced in Burgundy are appreciated for their robust character and perfectly balanced flavours. Some of the most acclaimed Burgundy wines include Côte de Nuits, Aloxe Corton, Montrachet, Cremant de Bourgogne, Savigny-Les-Beaune, Vosne Romanée, Grands-Echézeaux, and the crisp Chablis, produced near Auxerre.
As for the cheese, don't leave without sampling some St Florentin, Epoisses, Chaource, or Soumaintrain.
Total area: 31,582 square kilometres
Population: 1,642,000 people
Capital city: Dijon Departments: Saône-et-Loire, Côte-d'Or, Nièvre, and Yonne
Landscape: green valleys, rolling hills, extensive vineyards, forested plateaus, granite and limestone peaks, and woodlands.