Adventure of the Week: Burgundy Vineyard Trails
The creation of wine is nothing short of magic. Taking the humble grape in all its various guises, which tastes like various forms of grape, and transforming it into a complex, multi-layered drink that changes flavour with time. It is wizardry of the highest form and there is arguably nowhere in the world where this form of wizardry is practised more intensely than on the Burgundy Vineyard Trails.
In a Nutshell:
Where: Burgundy is located in East-Central France, around an hour and a half south-east of Paris. It takes its name from the Burgundians, who moved in from Germany, so the colour is named after the wine, not vice-versa. The region is split into several sub-regions, best known for their various wines and even if you are no wine buff, you will recognise the famous names like Mersault, Nuit-Saint-Georges and Chablis.
Distance: While there is much wine involved in this trip, there is also some walking, but the total distance is variable as some days you can cut down, or cut out your days walking and just enjoy being in this wondrous region. The walking distance is between 50 and 72km, split over four days of walking.
Grade: This trip is graded as Easy to Moderate, which means that you can have a couple of wine tastings and still make it to your accommodation every night (though please drink responsibly and all that!) The walking is mainly flat and there is a rest day included in your itinerary, and when you encounter a hill, it is nothing too dramatic. The paths are a combination of tarmac country roads, dirt trails and woodland trails and the walking is delightful.
Why Walk Here?
Wine! As I alluded to in the introduction, Burgundy is a pretty special place and in my opinion, it completely exemplifies the idea that winemaking is a form of magic. The whole region and massive industry are mainly based on two grapes, Chardonnay for the white wine and Pinot Noir for the red. This may be offputting for some people. Chardonnay has fallen from grace and is seen very much as an 80s wine, with Sauvignon Blanc and Albarino taking the spotlight instead, but I promise you, Chardonnay is still the queen.
The joy of Burgundy wines is that on the face of it they are so simple, two types of grape. However if you were to stand at a crossroads in Burgundy, with a different vineyard on each corner, each growing the same grape, with the same soil and weather conditions, still, each wine would taste entirely different. On this trip, you are right in the heart of this exciting wine country, with opportunities to visit vineyards and explore wine tasting in every town and city you stay in. It genuinely is a wine lover's dream come true.
The walks are predominantly through vineyards and link some of the most delightful towns in France. Dijon, where you start the trip is one of France's most appealing cities. Its mix of renaissance and medieval buildings, crown its compact, pedestrianised centre allowing you to wander freely, marvelling at the architecture and sampling some outstanding cuisine. And of course, if mustard is your thing, Dijon is the spot for you!
Further down the trail, Gevry Chambertin and Nuits St George are towns that are so steeped in viticulture that wine practically flows from the taps. Similarly, Beaune, where you will have your rest day, is all about wine. It has some of the greatest cellars in the world under its streets and while tasting at a vineyard is a lovely experience, if you want to taste a wide variety and find the perfect Burgundy for you, then Beaune is where to do it. You can also visit the stunning Hotel-Dieu, a former hospital from the medieval period with the most stunning tarnished roof tiles. It now houses a fine arts museum and is Beaune's premier attraction.
The food in the region is almost a match with the wine. It goes from hearty fare, the traditional Beef Bourguignon, Pôchouse (fish stew) and Coq au Vin to the divine. There are over 30 restaurants in Burgundy with Michelin stars and with their dedication to using local produce and taking traditional French cuisine to the next level, it is well worth seeking out one of them for a treat.
Planning and Preparation
Getting to Dijon at the start of the Burgundy Vineyard Trails is pretty straight forward. The TGV train takes 1Hour 40 mins from Paris to Dijon and you can connect back to Dijon from Beaune in 30 mins. Easy! The tough bit will be trying to pack all those bottles of wine.
If you have any questions about the route, don't hesitate to contact one of our Destination Specialists, who will be more than happy to help.