Getting Oriented

Burgundy, on the main route from Paris to both the Riviera and Switzerland/Italy, has always had fast train service, with Dijon serving as the region’s Grand Central Terminal. This lively city makes the best hub, enabling travelers to discover Burgundy’s many spokes, perhaps with the help of local bus stations (which often conveniently hook up with train stations).

  • Northwest Burgundy. The northern part of Burgundy came under the sway of the medieval Paris-based Capetian kings, and the mighty Gothic cathedrals they built are still here, notably St-Étienne at Sens. Thirty-two kilometers (20 miles) to the east is Troyes, its charming half-timber houses adding to the appeal of a town overlooked by most bus tours. Southeast lies Auxerre, beloved for its steep, crooked streets and magnificent churches; the wine village of Chablis; and two great Renaissance châteaux, Tanlay and Ancy-le-Franc. Closer to Dijon are the great Cistercian abbey at Fontenay and the noted Romanesque basilica at Vézelay, with a delightful hilltop setting.
  • Dijon. Burgundy's only real city, Dijon became the capital of the duchy of Burgundy in the 11th century, and acquired most of its important architectural and artistic treasures during the 14th and 15th centuries under four Burgundian dukes. The churches, the ducal palace, and one of the finest art museums in France are evidence of their patronage. Other treasures are culinary, including the world's best bœuf bourguignonne.
  • Burgundy Wine Country. South of Dijon, follow the Côte d'Or, one of the most famous wine routes, as it heads down past the great wine villages of Clos de Vougeot and Nuits-St-Georges to Beaune, the heart of Burgundy's wine region. At the Hospices take in the great Rogier van der Weyden Last Judgment and the intimate cour d'honneur (three-sided courtyard), the perfect postcard setting. Continuing south you'll find Autun, with renowned Roman ruins and the Romanesque landmark of Cluny, once the largest Christian church until St. Peter's was built in Rome.

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