Vélos Vignobles - Photo Alain Doiré, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Tourisme

I. Bourgogne-Franche-Comté: On the roads of vineyards and Grands Crus


Located in the Center-East of France, the former regions of Burgundy and Franche-Comté were administratively reunited on January 1, 2016.
This region includes eight departments: Côte d’Or (21), Doubs (25), Jura (39), Nièvre (58), Haute-Saône (70), Saône-et-Loire (71), Yonne (89), Territory of Belfort (90).
Its capital is Dijon, while Besancon hosts the headquarters of the regional council.
The vineyard was built over 2,000 years. He has always sought the reference to place (the Climate) and time (the Vintage) as markers of quality.
On July 4, 2015, the World Heritage Committee decided to inscribe the climates of the Burgundy vineyards on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Between man and nature

This research finds its most successful expression throughout the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune, over the 60 kilometers that link Dijon to Santenay. Side by side, the Climats form a mosaic of unique wines.
And each Climat has its history, its name, its taste, its place in the hierarchy of appellations.
Associated with the cities of Dijon and Beaune, historical seats of political, economic and cultural power, the Climats of the Burgundy vineyard constitute a living conservatory of know-how and traditions.

A know-how inherited from the monks

The Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region has been a high place of spiritual renewal in the West, as evidenced by the abbeys of Cluny, Fontenay or Vézelay.

The monastic, Benedictine and Cistercian communities have given this territory a magnificent architectural heritage and all the development of its wine resources.
Established in Roman times, the vineyards of Burgundy developed in the Middle Ages with the rise of Christianity.
In the 12th century, Father Bernard of Clairvaux imposed on the Cistercians strict principles of life: effort and prayer. The monks then professionalize the work of the vine, apply new winemaking techniques, meticulously note the results of their experiments.
Under the reign of the powerful Dukes of Burgundy, wines will become a major political and economic asset. An instrument of power and prestige, they will be consumed throughout Europe.
The vineyard will continue to evolve after the French French Revolution and will very soon adopt the classification by Appellations d´Origine Contrôlée created in 1936.

Today the wines of Burgundy respect their history without rejecting modernity.

The Burgundy Wine and Grands Crus Routes by car …

Over sixty kilometers, the Wine Route crosses the most prestigious part of the Burgundy vineyard: 38 picturesque wine-growing villages, of the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune, between Dijon and Beaune, to Santenay.
It is a narrow strip that stretches on a north-south axis two kilometers wide at an altitude of 300 to 400 meters. Along these hills, the vines run in tight rows between the villages a few kilometers from each other.
Of Gevrey-Chambertin in Nuits Saint Georges or Aloxe-Corton in Santenay, they present a typical architecture of the vineyard, beautiful limestone houses, tiled roofs.
Most of the winegrowers’ homes have old cellars that their owners show wine lovers with great pride and friendliness.
Gathered around their Gothic or Romanesque church, their fountains and wash houses, these traditional villages are emblematic places of life in the Burgundy vineyard. Each village has its own vineyard and appellations in red (pinot noir) and / or white (chardonnay).

Here are two examples of driving routes:

– “ Côte de Nuits ”: Dijon-Corgoloin. In its first part, the road follows an axis parallel to the renowned D974. On this prestigious Côte de Nuits are the greatest red wines in the world, including 24 grands crus out of the 33 in Burgundy (Romanée-Conti, Clos de Vougeot, Chambertin …).
“Côte de Beaune”: Corgoloin-Santenay. This is the region from the Côte de Beaune to the slopes of the Maranges. Blessed land of chardonnay, producing the greatest dry white wines in the world, with Corton Charlemagne, the Crus of Meursault, and Montrachet.
Taking the Route des Grands Crus also means visiting famous and little-known prestigious sites. AT Chenôve, the presses of the Dukes of Burgundy (14th century) recall that the Dukes of Valois were “the Lords of the best wines of Christendom”.
In Vougeot, the Château remains the eternal witness of the meticulous work of the Cistercian monks. The Abbey is in the nearby plain. A few bell towers or castles with glazed tile roofs herald the splendor of the Hôtel Dieu.
The coast of Beaune, the castles of Corton André, Pommard, Meursault and Chassagne Montrachet illustrate the concept of “Clos” (said of a plot of vine or a vineyard surrounded by walls which, according to the legal definition, could not be passed on horseback).
For further : www.beaune-tourisme.fr/

… by bike…

The Voie des vignes is done in two stages. The first to the south between Beaune and Nolay, and the second between Beaune and Dijon.
First stage: from Beaune to Santenay. Without difficulty, the Véloroute is an ideal route for an immersion in the vineyard. It takes 22 kilometers of small roads and vineyard paths frequented by winegrowers and grape pickers. It crosses the wine-growing villages of Pommard, Volnay, Meursault, Puligny Montrachet, Chassagne Montrachet and Santenay and offers the possibility of a stopover in the restaurant or on the terrace of a café (subject to sanitary measures). Arriving at Santenay, the walk can be extended by joining the Canal du Center and the Voie Verte along the towpath.
Second stage: from Santenay to Nolay. The Voie des vignes follows an old railway line that has become a greenway dedicated to cyclists, rollerbladers and pedestrians. Over 13 km, up to the medieval city of Nolay, there are rolling hills and then interesting panoramas of the cliffs of Cormot (climbing site). At the end of the route, two viaducts offer a panoramic view of the Burgundy landscape.
It is also via Santenay or Chagny that the greenway runs along the towpaths of the Canal du Center.
To know : the Voie des Vignes links Beaune to Dijon. 46 kilometers by bike in the heart of the vineyard and of the urban and rural, natural and architectural heritage. It allows the discovery of the two most famous vineyards of Burgundy, the Côte de Beaune and the Côte de Nuits-Saint-Georges!
For further : www.beaune-tourisme.fr/

… or on foot

By small roads and paths, five hiking trails are traced in the Beaune vineyards by the organization which brings together all the wine producers (ODG – Beaune).
All easy, of different lengths – between 3 and 12 kilometers – they allow you to discover the wines of Beaune in all their facets: their terroir, but also their history, their qualities and those who produce them … To browse them is to discover the Beaune nature, its enclosures and cabottes (cabins which once served as shelters or greenhouses for Côte-d’Or winegrowers).
The shortest circuit allows a first discovery of the vineyard. It is easily accessible to families with children and only takes small paths with little difference in height.
The longest offers a varied route on small roads and paths, without major difficulty despite some rough hills.
Magnificent views both to the South (Pommard, Volnay) and to the North (Corton hill). It allows you to have a global view of the Coteau de Beaune, vine and nature side with passages in black pine forest.
Or this one who deserves attention : it leaves from the heart of the city of Beaune, in front of the Hospices. In 10 kilometers, it allows you to discover Beaune city side and vineyard, to get to know the famous Hospices estate and the recent winery where the wines are made.

The Hospices de Beaune, a medieval gem, a hospital for the poor

About forty kilometers south of Dijon, the Hospices de Beaune (Hôtel Dieu) stand out as a medieval gem.
In 1443, at the time when Chancellor Nicolas Rolin founded it, France emerged from the Hundred Years War, a period of unrest and plague which decimated the countryside. It is therefore in a hospital for the poor and the most deprived that this masterpiece stands.
Flamboyant Gothic architecture, polychrome roofs and a renowned vineyard make this medieval hospital foundation one of the most prestigious French monuments.
Behind the austere slate roofs of the facade are the dazzling main courtyard, then the magnificent glazed tiled roofs and their aerial skylights.
All around the courtyard, the organization of buildings governs the life of the charitable institution: under the hull arches of the hall of the Poor, the sick are welcomed. In the kitchen with vast Gothic fireplaces, meals are prepared.
The apothecary, with its mortar and earthenware pots, is the exclusive domain of the pharmacist sister.
Wonderfully preserved, the buildings house a very rich museum. As for the wine from the Hospices vineyard, it is auctioned off every year, on the third Sunday in November, for the benefit of the Beaune Hospital and the Hospices Museum.
For health reasons, the Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune museum is closed until further notice. Outside of confinement, it is open every day of the year. Guided tours outside and during school holidays.
More informations : hospices-de-beaune.com/

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Posted by Michèle Sani
Journalist – TourMaG.com
See all articles by Michèle Sani

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