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  • Tootling through Burgundy on a motorbike can be fun

  • If you appreciate beautiful  countryside, rivers and canals, historic towns and authentic French food and wine, then you’re likely to arrive in Burgundy and breathe a deep sigh of pleasure.  Our featured region this month is also a haven for artists, writers and bird watchers – a corner of France where it’s possible to be both relaxed and inspired by the surroundings and way of life.

    Burgundy has been described as the heart of France, summing up so much that is appealing about the country to Francophiles. It lies to the south-east of Paris and two of its most famous names are located in the Côte-d'Or department – Dijon, city of gastronomy, and Beaune, home of the fine wine.

  • Burgundy, our region of the month, lies at the heart of France and is often said also to be at the heart of French cuisine. Many traditional French dishes such as coq au vin, beef bourguignon and escargots all come from Burgundy.

    Whilst the region is known for its prestigious gastronomy, rich history and many castles, Burgundy is of course most famous for its rich red wines – not to forget some pretty decent whites! Here, gentle rolling hillsides are covered with vineyards and September is a great month to explore them as it marks the beginning of the grape harvest season in France.

    The French grape harvest or vendage is always cause for revelry, ritual and celebration – but especially so in Burgundy. In September, you could easily bounce around the many wine related festivals, from the Jazz and Wine Festival of Burgundy in Beaune, from 17th to 19th, to the Heralding of the Harvest in Saint Emillion, from 19th to 20th and the Fête des Fromages Nuits St. Georges, also held on 19th and 20th.

    The Marché aux Vins in the centre of Beaune, next to the Hotel-Dieu, is an excellent introduction to the best wines of the region. There you can taste the famous names from Meursault to Puligny-Montrachet at your leisure. The Marché aux Vins is open every day and the visit and tasting costs 10 euros per person.

    Wine has shaped Burgundy's way of life for centuries and its wine making tradition goes back to the monks of Cluny and Citeaux. Chablis, in the Yonne, is the first of the great Burgundy whites and the Auxerrois wine route curves and winds through mediaeval villages surrounded by their vines, with whole communities devoted to its production.

    The countryside of the Cote d'Or is marked by an endless patchwork of carefully tended vines and you can follow the Route des Vins and sample and buy.

    Southern Burgundy is still wine country and Tournus makes an ideal base for visiting the Chalonnais and Maconnais vineyards and exploring. Don’t forget to check out the fragrant white Pouilly- Fuissé here.

    We have beautiful self-catering cottages and luxury gites to book as your holiday home base for exploring Burgundy, or you could stay in an authentic auberge or chateau for a true taste of the traditional wine estate way of life.

  • The market town of Cluny in Burgundy has the remains of a once great abbey. However, even in its broken-down state the abbey is still immensely impressive and well worth a tour

  • Readers of the January issue can win a luxury week at Chateau de Percey in the heart of Burgundy's countryside and vineyards.

  • Vineyards producing world-famous Burgundy and Beaujolais wines with iconic names – no less than 49 million bottles a year  - tasty regional food from simple to gourmet, miles of greenways and cycling routes and a voyage of discovery around French history. These are the highlights of a holiday in Burgundy and Saône-et-Loire, its most southerly department. Oh, and the cachet of having discovered a little known region of France.

  • In Puisaye, Burgundy, a team of fifty people have taken on an extraordinary feat: to build a castle using the same techniques and materials used in the Middle Ages. Now the Guédelon Castle project has inspired a five-part series on BBC2.Secrets of the Castle started this week and the first episode can be seen on i-player, with four more episodes to come on Tuesdays at 9pm.

    This massive 25 year project has been described as the world’s biggest experimental archaeological site. It was conceived by founder and director, Maryline Martin, as both a living educational tool and an innovative way to create work opportunities for the long-term unemployed, offering skills and qualifications that would leave them with a trade for life.

    The wood, stone, earth, sand and clay needed for the castle's construction are all to be found on the abandoned quarry site and Guédelon, unlike most other building sites, is open to the public. One of the project's principal raisons d'être is to demonstrate and explain to as many people as possible, the craftsmanship of our forebears.

    To visit is to step over the threshold into the heart of a by-gone age. No harsh mechanical sounds, no engines running - just a natural environment that elevates the senses. Explore the site to the sound of metal on stone, the sawing of wood, horses' hooves on bare earth and the hammer striking the anvil - and watch all the trades associated with castle-building in the 13th Century at work. You’ll find everyone from quarrymen, stonemasons, woodcutters, carpenters and blacksmiths to tile makers, basket makers, rope makers, carters and their horses.

    See full details of the project and how to visit Guédelon Castle and check out our great places to stay in the lovely Burgundy region

  • Sixty five years ago, on March 10 1944, seven young men assembled in the evening twilight for an important mission. They were tasked to fly a Stirling Bomber across to France and to drop seventeen containers to the Resistance. They were all members of 90 Squadron based at Tuddenham Airfield in Suffolk, near Bury St Edmonds.

  • Mr and Mrs B from Scotland were the lucky winners of our competition run earlier this year with French, the monthly magazine. Their prize was a week’s stay in one of the luxury gites at the romantic 18th century Chateau de Percey, which is set in beautiful countryside in the famous wine region of Chablis, Burgundy.

  • The river Armançon gently meandering under Pinard Bridge in Semur-en-Auxois, Burgundy.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Semur-en-Auxois, Burgundy (click for larger image)"]Semur-en-Auxois, Burgundy[/caption] The river Armançon gently meandering under Pinard Bridge in Semur-en-Auxois, Burgundy. At one time the river provided power for tanneries and mills but now the flow is much reduced by the Lac de Pont, a 19th century dam upstream. Walk around the ramparts and visit the delightful town of Semur-en-Auxois. For more information about Semur-en-Auxois click here