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France: A Bike Tour on Burgundy's Canals

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 8 day(s)
Group Size: 2 - 12 people
Destination(s): France  
Specialty Categories: Bicycle Touring   Sightseeing  
Season: June - October
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: Yes
Minimum Per Person Price: 3195 Canadian Dollar (CAD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 3995 Canadian Dollar (CAD)

Cycling in Burgundy, with its highly developed bicycle infrastructure, is one of the great pleasures of Europe. You will ride along towpaths next to the canals Bourgogne and Central, built between 1784 and 1843 for improved transportation of firewood, farm bounty and an abundance of wine, to Paris. The lush, viable soil of Burgundy, on the fringe of the Loire River Valley, is flush with farms and wineries, producing some of the world's most highly reputed Pinot Noires and Chardonnays. It is also home to a unique architectural style of clear Roman influence.

Starting in Montbard, 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.

Itinerary:
Day 1: Arrival.
Meet in Montbard and transfer to your nearby inn. Train connections from Paris are frequent. (Meal inclusions shown for guided trips. Self-guided trips include breakfast only.). Chateau de Flee, or Hostellereie d-Aussois, Semur-en-Auxois. (D)

Day 2: Warmup loop ride to Montbard, Buffon, and the UNESCO site of Abbaie de Fontenay.
Up to 65 km. Today's loop ride will take you to the Grand Forge du Buffon, a restored relic of the earliest days of steel manufacture, and 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, and enjoy staying near the medieval town of Semur-en-Auxois, a few km from the canal. Same lodging. (B)(L)

Day 3: Semur-en-Auxois to Saint Sabine 49 km.
The journey continues along the Burgundy canal, where numerous small villages await you today. An optional visit to the former home and museum of the work of American artist Douglas Gorsline in Bussy le Grand requires leaving the canal for an hour. 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 3.3 km canal tunnel enroute to your small chateau hotel. Chateau Sainte Sabine, Saint Sabine. (B)(L)(D)

Day 4: Saint Sabine to Dijon 50 km.
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. Hotel Philippe Le Bon, or Hotel du Palais, Dijon. (B)(L)

Day 5: Dijon to Beaune 12 km. Optional extra up to 60 km.
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. Hotel La Chouette, or Maison d'Olivier Leflaive Hotel, Puligny-Montrachet. (B)(D)

Day 6: Beaune to Tournus. 51 km and 20 minute van transfer.
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. Hotel Greuze, or Hotel Le Rempart, Tournus. (B)(L)(D)

Day 7: Loop ride through southern Burgundy 70 km.
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. Same lodging. (B)(L)

Day 8: 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)

Supplemental Tour Information:
We start our exciting trip in Montbard, 16:00, day one. Frequent trains from Paris Bercy station. Pickup at the train station for transfer to your hotel. And we finish it at Tournus train station, ~10:00, day eight. A 20-minute local train takes you to Macon, from where the high-speed train goes to Paris and other European centres. Recommended hotel in Macon: Chateau de Pizay. Contact us for more details!

Notes:
Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Guided Cost: US 3235 or C 3395 per person
Price Includes:
- 7 breakfasts, 5 light picnic lunches, 4 dinners
- route notes and maps
- some entry fees
- luggage handling
- van and guide support

Self-guided Cost: US 3045 C 3195 per person
Price Includes:
- 7 breakfasts
- route notes and maps
- luggage transfers)

Single Occupancy: US 835 C 875; Bicycle Rental: $225.