Burgundy stretches over 200 miles north to south and 125 miles east to west, covering most of eastern central France. It's divided into four administrative départements (similar to U.S. counties). The highly agricultural Yonne (northern Burgundy) incorporates Auxerre, Joigny, Sens, and Chablis. The Côte d'Or (eastern Burgundy) is the heart of wine country, and also the richest and most populous of Burgundy's départements. It includes Châtillon-sur-Seine; the Vallée de l'Ouche; Dijon; Nuits-Saint-Georges; and the famous Côte-de-Nuits, Beaune, and Côte-de-Beaune vineyards.
Burgundy's biggest and most varied département, Saône-et-Loire (southern Burgundy), has vast tracts of unspoiled cattle country, forests, farmland, and vineyards; it runs from Chalon-sur-Saône and the Côte Chalonnaise wine district to the Bresse Bourguignonne, Mâcon, and Cluny, then west to the Loire River. Historically and culturally, the Nièvre département (western Burgundy)—which centers on its capital, Nevers—has more in common with France's Centre region and the départements of the Loire Valley than the rest of Burgundy. In fact, the wines of Nièvre—Pouilly Fumé and Pouilly-sur-Loire—are generally considered Loire or Centre wines, not Burgundies. The mountainous Morvan that dominates central Burgundy crosses into all four départements, and is where you'll find Autun and Vézelay.
WHEN TO GO
Burgundy is green year-round and gets plenty of rainfall. Spring, summer, and fall are equally beautiful, so any time between April and October is good for a visit. The region rarely feels overrun by tourists, but the wine-producing areas can get very busy during the harvest in September and early October.
Temperatures in early spring and late fall are usually in the 50s and reach the upper 70s in high season (July and August). Winter is cold and wet (and occasionally freezing and snowy). Many businesses close in the winter, and some—particularly wineries—close in August, when many French citizens go on vacation themselves.
HOW TO GET THERE
The closest airports are Paris's Charles de Gaulle (60 miles from Burgundy's northern border) and Lyon's St. Exupéry (50 miles from Burgundy's southern border). Rental cars are available at both airports. From Paris, you can take a high-speed TGV train to Montbard or Dijon to visit northern and eastern Burgundy, or to Mâcon and Mâcon-Loché to visit the region's center and south. Travel times from Paris are the same for all four stations: 90 minutes.
Burgundy is big, and public transportation is limited. Rent a car unless you're only going to visit Burgundy's main cities, in which case you can take local trains and buses. Once in Burgundy, biking and hiking are easy and safe. Cruises on the Seine, Saône, Yonne, and Loire rivers; the Canal de Bourgogne; and the Canal du Centre are also a pleasant way to get around.
The Comité Régional du Tourisme (CRT), based in Dijon, provides overall information; dates of festivals, flea markets, and temporary exhibitions; river cruise details; and much more. Each of Burgundy's four administrative départements has its own tourist office: Yonne (northern Burgundy), Côte d'Or (eastern Burgundy), Saône et Loire (southern Burgundy), and Nièvre (western Burgundy). The Morvan in central Burgundy and many villages, towns, and cities also have their own tourism information centers and Web sites. Visit Bivb.com for information on wine tourism.View France Factsheet