Burgundy is a central region of France, one that oozes Gallic charm, has some of the most charming countryside, and is awash with some of the best wineries in France. A stay at the gites in Burgundy is an experience that allows you to be fully immersed in the essence of French rural culture, in a timeless place that is also not-so-far from the metropolitan buzz of Paris.
The region of Burgundy is adjacent to the Ile de France, a land of rolling hills where the upper valleys of the Loire, Seine, Yonne and the Saone converge and coalesce. To the south are the regions of the Auvergne and Rhone-Alpes, to the east Franche-Comte, and to the north-east Champagne-Ardenne. This heartland region of France was once the Duchy of Burgundy and known as the place where the northern and southern watersheds of France are connected by the Canal of Burgundy. This allows pleasure boats to glide from the Channel river of the Yonne down to the Saone, and so out to the Mediterranean.
Any stay in the gites in Burgundy starts and ends with the distinction of its fabulous wine growing landscape. Burgundy is home to some of the best known, and best drunk, wines of France. The most renowned Burgundy wines are to be found in the Côte-d'Or, but there is more excellence to be found in a tour of the wineries of the Chablis, Beaujolais, Mâcon or the Côte Chalonnaise areas. But once you have sampled the delights of the vine, there is much else to do and see here.
A great way to linger lazily, through the fabulous sunflower-bedecked countryside, is to take a pleasure-boat cruise along one of the many waterways of Burgundy. Boats for rental hire are to be found across the region and the view from the river always swims along at the best pace.
Dijon, the main city in Burgundy, has some great attractions, including the Cathedral and a dazzling array of quaint architectural styles. It also hosts, in the Autumn each year, the well-regarded International and Gastronomic Fair; good wine, excellent cuisine and of course its famous mustard are all celebrated at this event. There are many rustic villas surrounding the town which make for great bases for exploring the city and surrounding countryside.
When in Dijon, a treat many visitors miss out on is Kir. This regional speciality is made from a blackcurrant liquor and makes an excellent aperitif - so do order one if you are eating out in Dijon.
Another thing to try out whilst you're in Dijon is the rubbing the tummy of the local owl! The church of Eglise Notre Dame, on Rue de la Chouette, has a carved owl figurine whose belly has become smooth and glossy from all of the rubbing. The idea is to gain good luck by a gentle caress from your left hand.
If you have driven down from the north of France, the A5 motorway is the most direct route into Burgundy, from Paris, if you're heading to Dijon. If you are heading farther west, take the A77 to Nevers.
Burgundy is well served by the French rail service, with the high-speed TGV trains slicing from Paris through to Montbard, Dijon and then onto Beaune and Chalon-sur-Saône. This makes it a convenient way of getting in close to wherever your gites in Burgundy are located. The region also has an excellent local rail service.