Starting near Auxerre, an area pegged as “convenient” by Julius Caesar, you will travel eastward along the Burgundy Canal all the way into Dijon. From there you will continue to the central Burgundy town of Beaune, and the picturesque vineyard region along the Saone River. Enjoy riding traffic-free for most of the route, on towpaths and railbeds. Eight days of tranquil, pastoral cycling, elegant lodgings, and fine dining will demonstrate why this is such a beloved place for cycling comfort.
Day 1: Arrival
Known as the capital of lower Burgundy, is well worth an early arrival to allow for meandering through the ancient St-Germain Abbey. Train connections from Paris are frequent. D (Meal inclusions shown for guided trips. Self-guided trips include breakfast only.)
Hotel le Parc de Marechaux, Auxerre, www.leparcdesmarechaux.com
Day 2: Auxerre to Tonnerre 25km transfer and 45km or 69km bike ride
Transfer, or bicycle on a quiet, paved road, to the start of the Burgundy Canal in Migennes. Linger in Migennes, taking in a transportive display of Gallo-Roman mosaics, or soaking up the fragrant hydrangeas in the gardens of Chantoiseau. Later, visit the Crécy Cistercian Abbey in Saint-Florentin. Founded in the 12th century, the abbey is the original home of Chablis wine. BLD
La Ferme de la Fosse Dionne, Tonnerre, www.ferme-fosse-dionne.fr
Day 3: Tonnerre to Buffon ~55km
Continuing along the Burgundy Canal towards Dijon, you'll pass through Tanlay, home to the remarkable contemporary art house, le Centre d'Art de l'Yonne, and the immaculately restored 16th century Château Tanlay. See the acclaimed ceramics museum in Ancy-le-Franc, and the Grand Forge du Buffon, a restored relic of the earliest days of steel manufacture. Visit the 11th century Cistercian Abbey at Fontenay, a UNESCO world heritage site. Wander the streets of the formerly bustling 19th century industrial village of Montbard, home to a remarkable museum and park, spending the night just outside of town. BD
Hotel le Marronnier, Buffon, www.logishotels.com
Day 4: Buffon to Saint Sabine ~69km
The journey continues along the Burgundy canal, where numerous small villages await you today. Visit the former home and museum of the work of American artist Douglas Gorsline in Bussy le Grand. See the Abbey at Flavigny and its monks' masterful textile creations at the nearby Maison des Arts Textiles & du Design. View the acclaimed contemporary art collection at the beautifully restored Chatéau d'Eguilly, and decide whether to take a diversion to Château de Commarin before enjoying a marvellous 3.3km canal tunnel enroute to your small chateau hotel. BLD
Chateau Sainte Sabine, Saint Sabine, www.saintesabine.com
Day 5: Saint Sabine to Dijon ~50km
After a morning visit to Chateau de Chateauneuf-en-Auxois overlooking the Bourgogne valley, ride through the valley to Dijon, enjoying majestic views of the rolling hills without ever having to pedal over them. You can also visit the chateaux at Malain and Lantenay along today's ride. Arrive in Dijon in time to take in the cathedral Notre-dame-du-Dijon and the expansive Ducal Palace. Once the seat of the Burgundy Dukes, and still the most important city in Burgundy, Dijon offers shopping, wine tasting, and many local attractions. BL
Hotel Philippe Le Bon, www.hotelphilippelebon.com, Hotel du Palais, Dijon, www.hoteldupalais-dijon.fr
Day 6: Dijon to Beaune. 12km. Optional extra up to 60km.
Transfer or ride to Beaune, one of France’s prettiest towns, home of the stunning "Hospices de Beaune" and its intricate tile roofs. It is best to allow plenty of time to visit and shop in Beaune before finishing the ride to your hotel in nearby Puligny-Montrachet, known for producing perhaps the most famous white wines in the world. BD
Hotel La Chouette, Puligny-Montrachet, www.la-chouette.fr
Day 7: Beaune to Tournus. 51km and 20 minute van trasnfer.
Begin on the Canal du Centre’s bicycle towpath as far as Chalon-sur-Saône, then follow the “Voie Verte,” a paved railbed through the beautiful landscapes of South Burgundy. The route takes you through the charming little wine town of Givry, skirting the foot of the Côte Chalonnaise vineyards to the highly evocative former railway station of Saint-Gengoux-le-National. Finish at the Chateau de Cormatin and its gardens, unique in France for its exceptionally well-preserved interiors from the reign of Louis XIII (1628). Peruse the fascinating cycling museum found here before a short transfer to your hotel at Tournus. BLD
Hotel Greuze, www.hotelgreuze.fr, or Hotel Le Rempart, Tournus, www.lerempart.com
Day 8: Loop ride through southern Burgundy. 70km
Transfer from Tournus to begin cycling at the Chateau de Cormatin again. From there, travel through a cyclist-only tunnel to Cluny and visit the ancient Romanesque Benedictine abbey, once perhaps the largest church in Christendom, founded in 910. Ride downhill to Mâcon, a picturesque city on the Saone River, with its famous “Maison de Bois." Finally, ride the Voie Bleu bike path (mixed paved and unpaved) along the banks of the Saone back to Tournus. Your guides will say farewell tonight. BL
Day 9: Departure
It’s a two-minute walk to a 20-minute, once-hourly train trip to Macon, where the TGV train station has direct connections to Paris. Relax over breakfast first. B
Start: Auxerre, 16:00, day one.
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