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More to Burgundy than great vintages

Chateauneuf-en-Auxois, a fortified village and castle that's an iconic Burgundian sight
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Because of Burgundy's exceptional wines and gastronomy, visitors sometimes race across this beautiful region from one vineyard to the next without stopping to enjoy its exceptional medieval architecture, to linger on or beside its canals and waterways, to see its castles and cloisters and to shop at some of its most charming boutiques.

 

That's a shame because the area's attractions are not overrun by tourists and you can enjoy them at a luxurious leisurely pace.


The powerful Dukes of Burgundy once ruled a fertile territory that stretched across central France from the Low Countries to the Mediterranean. They were power players and king makers, leaving their mark on the land in fortified villages and chateaux like 14th century Châteauneuf-en-Auxois: the view from the Burgundy Canal is one of the region's iconic sights.


Even earlier Gallo-Roman remnants tell a story of Burgundy's importance in pre-Christian times. The fortified village of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain occupies one of Julius Caesar's military camps. Autun, the gateway to the Morvan Regional Nature Park and a center of Burgundian culture, preserves a Roman theatre, that once held an audience of 20,000. The ancient Abbey Church of Cluny and the wonderfully extravagant Hospices de Beaune put the region at the heart of Medieval Christendom and the Holy Roman Empire.


Dijon, the capital of the ancient Dukes and home of the world famous mustard, has turned the winding lanes of its Medieval and Renaissance district into a sophisticated pedestrian precinct crammed with stylish shops, restaurants and cafes. And Beaune, considered capital of Burgundy wine is also noted for its restaurants, its cheeses and such world famous dishes as boeuf bourguignon - beef simmered in a whole bottle of good burgundy wine.


Music and art are among the "finer things" that wine lovers are bound to appreciate, and this region does not lack for cultural activities. Festivals throughout the year cater to all musical tastes, from classical and opera to contemporary, jazz and pop. Film festivals, art exhibitions and brilliant  "Son et Lumière" performances, with actors, light projections and pyrotechnics, are all part of the Burgundian scene.


But if outdoor and family activities are more your style, you can fit in some kayaking or white water sports on the rivers and lakes of Morvan. Try accrobranching - leaping from treetop to treetop in the park's dense forests, hike and cycle over varied terrain on well-marked trails, or simply relax on a cruise along the Burgundy Canal.