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Burgundy: tourism and sightseeing

Photo of Burgundy in France

Visit Burgundy, France

The Burgundy region has a fascinating mix of unspoiled countryside, historical towns and monuments, many a result of the illustrious and wealthy past of the region, and is also well known for the exceptional Burgundy wines produced here

Burgundy tourist sights and places to visit

View of Chateauneuf-en-Auxois

The Burgundy (French name 'Bourgogne') region is found in central-eastern France to the south-east of Paris, between the towns of Sens and Auxerre to the north and Maçon (just north of Lyon) to the south.

Among the reasons that people visit the region are the attractive countryside including the Morvan Regional Park, the numerous historical towns and villages, and the interesting abbeys and other important monuments.

Wine enthusiasts will also appreciate the chance to see the vineyards and sample such renowned wines as Chablis, Beaune, Macon and Nuits-Saint-Georges, just a few of those produced in this region of France and another excellent reason to visit!

A Brief History

Before you visit Burgundy it is useful to know that for several centuries (until 1477) the region was a state independent of France and important religious centre of Europe, and even sided with the English against the French during the Hundred Years War. At that time it was a very rich state, and continues to be one of the most wealthy regions of France to this day. It is the legacies from this golden age of prosperity that still provide many of the major attractions in the region today.

Planning your visit

Burgundy covers quite an extensive area and includes four French departments: Cote d'Or (north-east), Nievre (south-west) , Saone-et-Loire (south-east) and Yonne (north-west).

Below we mention some of the most popular highlights and places to visit in each department, and you will find much more detailed visitor information in the individual department travel guides.

Cote d'Or - north-east Burgundy

View of Semur-en-Auxois

The Cote d'Or department is an interesting introduction to Burgundy, with several of the region's most interesting and scenic highlights, towns and villages.

In the south-east of the department you can visit Beaune - famous for its wine and for its very impressive medieval hospital complex (the 'hotel dieu') and also the extensive historical centre of Dijon, our favourite city in the region and with a great deal to discover.

The most visited historic monument in Cote d'Or is Fontenay Abbey, one of the most interesting and complete abbeys and architectural treasures in France (close to Montbard).

Flavigny

There are several particularly attractive villages and small towns in Cote d'Or, including in particular Chateauneuf-en-Auxois and Semur-en-Auxois. We also particularly enjoyed visiting the small fortified village of Flavigny, which is classified as one of the 'most beautiful villages of France'.

To the east of Cote d'Or at Chatillon-sur-Seine you can see the fascinating Treasure of Vix, with artefacts from the burial site of a queen that lived here 2500 years ago.

The town of Saulieu in the south-west of the department is a gateway town to discover the natural environment of the Morvan regional natural park (see Nievre below).

See the Cote d'Or travel guide for more highlights and places of interest.

Yonne - north-west Burgundy

Auxerre

The Yonne department is best known for its medieval architecture, and also has several very attractive towns and villages to explore.

There are numerous towns and villages in the region worth visiting, including Avallon (a personal favourite) and also Sens, Joigny and Tonnerre, and Auxerre, each of which has an interesting historic centre.

Among the smaller towns and villages in this part of Burgundy we particularly recommend you visit Noyers-sur-Serein, which has a very attractive medieval old town with numerous half-timbered houses to see. We also enjoyed exploring the small village of Montreal.

No visit to Yonne would be complete without a wine-tasting afternoon at the village of Chablis, which is famous worldwide for the fine wines produced from the vineyards on the hills surrounding the village.

Pontigny

Yonne also has several historic monuments of particular interest. Visitors to Yonne will certainly want to visit Vezelay to see the abbey (and the pretty village of Vezelay itself), and the abbey at Pontigny.

It was here in Pontigny Abbey that Thomas Becket took refuge from the English King Henry II in the 13th century.

There are also several castles of interest in Yonne, with those at Ancy-le-Franc castle and Tanlay castle among the most popular. An interesting contrast is provided by the project to build a brand-new castle using only techniques and materials available in medieval times at Guedelon.

See the Yonne travel guide for more highlights and places of interest

Nievre - south-west Burgundy

La Charite-sur-Loire

Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy visiting the Nievre department with the quiet roads and paths, in particular within the Morvan Natural park being very popular with hikers and cyclists.

Although Nievre has less important towns and monuments than the other departments in Burgundy, there are still some notable places to visit. Particular highlights include:

  • the town of Clamecy with its collegiale church
  • the imposing Duke's Palace at Nevers
  • the abbey complex and town at La Charite-sur-Loire, now a UNESCO listed world heritage site.

The department is best known for the chance to enjoy the unspoiled countryside, with small-scale farms, streams and ancient woodlands on the rolling countryside that we associate with Burgundy.

Situated to the east of the department, the Morvan Regional Park is a particularly scenic part of Nievre, and often entered via the gateway town of Corbigny.

See the Nievre travel guide for more highlights and places of interest

Saone-et-Loire - south-east Burgundy

Paray-le-Monial

Saone-et-Loire in the southern part of Burgundy is a less established tourist destination than the northern departments of Burgundy, but still has places of interest to discover and explore.

The highlight for visitors is certainly the 11th century abbey at Cluny, which now features impressive 'enhanced reality' screens to help you better see the abbey at the time it was built.

The basilica at Paray-le-Monial and the church at Anzy-le-Duc are among the other important religious monuments in this part of Burgundy.

Autun

Stepping further back in time you can see substantial Roman ruins at Autun, as well as a romanesque style cathedral with an impressive entrance and other historic monuments. The towns of Tournus and Macon are also highlights of a visit to this region.

Smaller towns and villages that we enjoyed visiting in Saone-et-Loire include the picturesque village of Semur-en-Brionnais and the historical centre of Chalon-sur-Saone, and also the attractive village at Brancion.

The renaissance style chateau at Cormatin is also a popular attraction in Saone-et-Loire, dating from the 17th century and surrounded by moats and French style gardens.

See the Saone-et-Loire travel guide for more highlights and places of interest

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Map of Burgundy with attractions and places to visit

More information

Places to visit: towns and villages

Burgundy tourism and sightseeing

Classified tourist sites to visit in Burgundy

Listed below are some of the main places and destinations in Burgundy that have received 'official' tourist classifications.

Grand Sites of France

Alesia:

Bibracte-Mont Beuvray:

Roche de Solutre / Roche de Vergisson:

Heritage Sites

Abbatiale Notre-Dame de La Charité-sur-Loire (monuments on French pilgrim routes): Tourist guide

Asquins église St Jacques (monuments on French pilgrim routes):

Fontenay Abbey: Tourist guide

Vezelay: Tourist guide

Vézelay basilica St Madeleine (monuments on French pilgrim routes): Tourist guide

Classified 'most beautiful villages'

Chateauneuf-en-Auxois: Tourist guide

Flavigny: Tourist guide

Noyers-sur-Serein: Tourist guide

Semur-en-Brionnais: Tourist guide

National Monuments

Bussy-Rabutin Chateau:

towns classified as Recommended Detours

Chatillon-sur-Seine: Tourist guide

Joigny: Tourist guide

Regional Natural Parcs

Morvan: Tourist guide

Religious Monuments

Abbatiale eglise de Saint Philibert (Tournus):

Abbaye de Cluny (Cluny):

Abbaye de Fontenay (Montbard):

Abbaye de Pontigny (Pontigny):

Basilique de Saint Andoche (Saulieu):

Basilique du Sacré-Cœur (Paray-le-Monial):

Cathédrale Saint Lazare (Autun):

Chapelle aux Moines (Berze-la-Ville):

Eglise de Jalogny (Jalogny):

Eglise de Notre-Dame-du-Pré (Donzy):

Eglise de Saint Barthélémy (Cervon):

Eglise de Saint Blaise (Mazille):

Eglise de Saint Denis (Massy):

Eglise de Saint Germain (Saint-Germain-en-Brionnais):

Eglise de Saint Hilaire (Semur-en-Brionnais):

Eglise de Saint Marcel (Iguerande):

Eglise de Saint Martial (Seignelay):

Eglise de Saint Martin (Chapaize):

Eglise de Saint Nizier (Baron):

Eglise de Saint Pierre de Brancion (Martailly-les-Brancion):

Eglise de Saint Pierre et Saint Paul (Montceaux-l'Etoile):

Eglise de Saint Vincent (Mont-Saint-Vincent):

Eglise de Saint-Pierre-aux-Liens (Varenne-l'Arconce):

Hospices de Beaune (Beaune):

Prieuré church de Saint Pierre et Saint Benoit (Perrecy-les-Forges):

Prieuré d'Anzy-le-Duc (Anzy-le-Duc):

Prieuré de Saint Révérien (Saint-Reverien):

St Aignan de Brinay (Brinay):

Listed 'Remarkable Gardens'

Abbaye de Fontenay:

Abbaye de la Bussière:

Château d'Arcelot:

Forgeneuve:

Jardin de la Chaux:

Jardin du château de Chaumont:

Jardin du château de Digoine:

Jardin du château de Limanton:

Jardin du château du Talmay:

Jardin du moulin de Athie:

Le jardin de Zéphyr:

Les Jardins du château de Drée:

Les jardins Romans de Varenne-l'Arconce:

Parc de Saint-Léger:

Parc du château de Thorigny:

Parc et jardin du château de Barbirey sur Ouche:

Parc et jardin du château du Chatillon en Bazois:

Parc et jardins du château de Sully:

Potager du château de Lantilly:

Protected historical town centre

Autun: Tourist guide

Auxerre: Tourist guide

Chalon-sur-Saone: Tourist guide

Clamecy: Tourist guide

Cluny: Tourist guide

Dijon: Tourist guide

Joigny: Tourist guide

Tournus: Tourist guide

Vezelay: Tourist guide

Towns of Art and History

Autun: Tourist guide

Auxerre: Tourist guide

Chalon-sur-Saone: Tourist guide

Dijon: Tourist guide

Joigny: Tourist guide

Nevers: Tourist guide

Paray-le-Monial: Tourist guide

Ville d'etape

Charolles:

Pougues-les-Eaux:

4* Towns in Bloom

Beaune: Tourist guide

Dijon: Tourist guide

Macon: Tourist guide

Paray-le-Monial: Tourist guide

Quetigny:

Sens: Tourist guide

Related

French version: Burgundy (Francais)

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