Burgundy Wine Explorer

The mention of the word ‘Burgundy’ conjures up many images. To some, the first thing that springs to mind is wine. Another is fine food. Take our tour and find out that this is just the start…

Price

£2,195.00 per person*

($2,985.20 USD or $3,731.50 AUD)

£200.00 deposit

£495.00 single room supplement

Dates

1st Oct to 7th Oct 2017

10th Jun to 16th Jun 2018

24th Jun to 30th Jun 2018

29th Jul to 4th Aug 2018

19th Aug to 25th Aug 2018

30th Sep to 6th Oct 2018

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Hotel choices are very good, lots of character, the meals were superb! Henry and David, the guides, were great – key to the great experience.

-- Diane and Tom Rosfjord, Connecticut, USA

Highlights

  • The majestic Abbey of Cluny
  • Traffic free biking along dedicated cycleways & canal towpaths
  • Sweeping landscapes of vineyards, forests and hills
  • Wine tasting in prestigious Cote D'or
  • Medieval masterpieces in Tournus and Beaune
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Join us for a cycling adventure. All you have to do is pedal


Joining the tour

Start

Macon railway station and Macon TGV station

Finish

Dijon Rail and TGV station

Pickups are from Macon Loche TGV rail station and Macon Ville rail station (direct lines from Paris Gare de Lyon and Lyon Part Dieu). Drop-off at end of tour is Dijon TGV rail station (direct trains to Paris) 

Cycling level

5 out of 10

The cycling ranges from easy on some days to moderate on others, but should be comfortably achievable for anyone of reasonable fitness.

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The mention of the word ‘Burgundy’ — Bourgogne to the French — conjures up many images. To some, the first thing that springs to mind is wine, from the crisp whites of Chablis and Montrachet to the prestigious reds of the Côte D’Or — Nuits-St-George, Pommard, Aloxe-Corton and Vosne-Romanée being but a few. And do not forget Kir, the traditional aperitif of Burgundy, made from Cassis blackcurrant liqueur from Dijon and Bourgogne Aligote white wine.

Others will think of food — boeuf bourguinon, burgundy snails, Dijon mustard are just some of the speciailities ripe for discovery by gourmets, and our bike tour will give you a hearty appetite to make the most of these delights.

The countryside encompasses the rolling hills of the Mâconais and Chalonais in the south; the wild Morvan plateau to the north-west; and of course the steepsided côtes of the prestigious wine districts around Beaune. The countryside is criss-crossed with canals, tiny lanes and bikepaths, and the scenery is divided between perfectly tended vinyards, fields of wheat, maize and sunflowers, and the forests used for making the prized french oak wine barrels.

Many rivers and streams spring from the plateau and feed the Seine to the north and the Saone and Rhone to the south, and many of which have been dammed to provide the area with many lakes. Man has also had an impact with the creation of a network of canals across the region, many of which provide cycling opportunities along their towpaths.

Burgundy has more than its fair share of man made glories, dating from the 8C BC when Celts invaded from what is present day Austria. Incorporated into the Roman empire in the 1st century, the Gallo-Roman civilisation expanded and left its mark on the landscape. The first Christian churches were built as early as the 4th century. Magnificent abbeys were founded at Cluny and Vézelay in the 10th C, and in the later middle ages cathedrals sprang up at Auxerre, Autun and Dijon. The burgeoning wine trade resulted in superb architecture for the wealthy merchants who built stunning houses and public buildings in Beaune, Auxerre, Dijon and Autun.

Our bicycle tour takes in all the varied aspects of Burgundy, both natural and man-made — and we make sure that you don't miss out on the regional gastronomic delights!

The cycling ranges from easy on some days to moderate on others, but should be comfortably achievable for anyone of reasonable fitness.

To view a map of the Burgundy tour route click here

*All itineraries are samples and may slightly differ*

Arrival Day

We transfer from the TGV station in Mâcon to our hotel in nearby Igé. After introductions and setting up the bikes, there will be a short ride around the Mâcconais vineyards to get a taste of the terrain in the week to come. We return to the hotel for a rest or a dip in the pool followed by the first of many leisurely sumptuous dinners to fortify us for the road ahead.

Day 2

Today we head north through the undulating landscape of the Mâconnais. We are riding through the vines that produce the grapes to make the celebrated Pouilly-Fuissé white wine. We take a dedicated cycle track to reach the Abbaye of Cluny. Cluny was founded in 910 AD and was the most important monastic order of Europe; at its height the Abbaye sent out 10,000 monks across all of Europe to do God's work. The vaults of the Abbaye Church are the highest in Romanesque architecture at 30m (100ft) high.

We then wind our way round the wooded Mâconnais hills through picturesque villages each with its ancient church before arriving back at the River Sâone in the medieval city of Tournus. The charming town has a magnificent Abbey Church, and a preserved 17th Century hospital. Our hotel has been converted from a guardhouse built in the city ramparts, and here we will eat a dinner accompanied by the Maconnais wines as a reward for the efforts of the day.

                Ride notes: Rolling until we reach the converted railway. Mainly flat on the converted railway line to Cluny (watch out for the tunnel!) After lunch moderate steady height gain to Brancion (120m vertical over 4km) followed by descent and another short climb, finally descending into Tournus.

                Total distance for the day: 61km 653metre rolling terrain

Day 3

Today we leave the Mâconnais region and enter the Challonnaise wine region. We recross the foothills of the Montagnes Mâconnais, stopping off at the restored medieval village of Brancion and descend to see the 12th Century Château de Sercy in its beautiful lakeside setting.We rejoin the Voie Verte cycle path which takes us to the village of Buxy, home to the wines of Montagny. Depending on the weather or our fancy, a picnic lunch or a stop at a café in the village is followed by a tasting at one of the local co operative wineries.

We are now entering the heartland of prestigious Burgundy wines, and the next few villages rejoice in names to set a wine enthusiast's heart beating a little faster — Givry and Mercurey are signposts that we are in the land of Pinot Noir.  A few more kilometers brings us to Rully where our hotel awaits. The town has its own prestigious appellation and at this evenings meal, we will have a dedicated sommelier present wines to us that are perfectly paired with each course. Another splendid supper is to be had at the hotel!

 Ride notes: Steady climb to Brancion (170m vertical over 8 km) then fast descent; after Sercy onto converted railway, predominantly flat.

 Total distance for the day: 61km

Day 4

We start out today riding along the Canal du Centre.  The Canal du Centre, one of the technical wonders of its times, was built by the engineer Gauthey concurrently with the Canal de Bourgogne. Started in 1784, it was inaugurated in 1793, 40 years before the Canal de Bourgogne was completed, and was the first link between the Loire (leading to the Seine through the Canal de Briare) and the Saône.

We come off the canal and have a spectacular ride through the Hautes- Cotes de Beaune vineyards. Our road then descends through Santenay, with a selections of restaurants for lunch, or ideally a picnic amongst the vines. From there the road continues through prestigious Chassagne-Montrachet before arriving at the Chateau de Mersault where we stop to sample a selection of wines from the neighbouring vineyards. We are staying for two nights in Beaune so we can take our time to visit this wonderful town with all it has to offer. Tonight we dine at our hotel in the heart of the town.

Ride notes:  The first section is flat as we cycle along canal towpaths. There is rolling terrain to Santenay afterwards downhill and flat to Beaune. 

Total distance for the day: 48km 328 m

Day 5

A morning off the bike can be spent in Beaune, with a  not to be missed visit to the Hotel-Dieu ancient hospital, a marvel of Burgundian-Flemish art that houses another Flemish masterpiece: Roger van der Weyden's Polyptych of the Last Judgement. The glazed polychrome tiles that adorn the roof of the Hotel-Dieu are nothing short of spectacular.

Depending on the time of year, we have the afternoon offers a shorter ride to Santenay for a tasting and a fascinating visit to the cellars at the Chateau de Santenay or a ride to Pommard to the Chateau de Pommard. Either options offers a wonderful tour and tasting experience. Tonight we go out on the town to a local restaurant. After dinner a stroll through the streets to admire Beaunes "Trail of Light" - Buildings lit up with stories of their history.

Ride notes: Gently undulating to Santenay and back to Beaune.              

Total distance for the day: 39km ( changes depending on option)

Day 6

 Our last day of cycling is an easy one. We head north to Savigny-les-Beaune, before continuing through the vineyards of Aloxe-Corton, (which produced Voltaire’s favourite red) to Nuits-St-Georges.  This, the chief village of the wine-producing region which bears its name, has many medieval buildings and makes a great place to stop for coffee or lunch.               

 The same soil and climate that produce the wines of Burgundy are also the home to the blackcurrants which in this area are exploding with flavour. Thus we find this home to the delicious Super Cassis!

Initially used as both a cure for jaundice and to soften and aromatise the Aligote wines (once viewed as the poor cousin to the more elegant chardonnay based whites). In the mid 19th century blackcurrants became an important crop to many vineyards that were affected by the phylloxera infestation. It was the mayor of Dijon, Canon Kir, who later made crème de cassis a more prestigious liquor by serving it at all his government functions with the local white wine thus giving the name to the now well known cocktail the “Kir” or “Kir Royale”.  Today we will get a chance to taste this fabulous cassis and perhaps buy a bottle to take home and savour.

In the afternoon we visit the Chateau Clos de Vougeot. This chateau is a temple to Burgundian wine, literally, for it is here in the 12th century cellars that the Order of the Tastevin Knights hold their ceremonies dedicated to upholding the traditions of food and wine Bourguignonne.  This order, which was only founded in 1934, now has members famous in the world of food and drink across the globe.

A short ride brings us to our hotel, the Chateau de Saulon where we simply unwind by the pool before our final celebration meal.

Ride notes: Moderate climb out of Beaune to hillside above Aloxe Corton (170m over 10km) Then fast descent into Nuits St-Georges. Rest of the day is flat.  

Total distance for the day: 43km 337m

Day 7

After breakfast, we transfer to Dijon for our onward journeys with memories of a wonderful week of cycling and new friends made. You may like to book an additional night in Dijon to see its many sights and museums — and sample its gastronomic delights.

Not all cycle vacations are the same. Compare what is included in a French Cycling Holidays bike tour:

  • Flexible collection from local airport or train station
  • Quality Trek bicycles
  • Quality helmets (if required)
  • Water bottles (to take home as souvenirs)
  • Detailed riding instructions and colour route maps
  • Charming 3* and 4* auberges, inns and hotels
  • Buffet style breakfasts with croissants, pastries, meats, cheeses and cereals
  • Gourmet dinners for all 6 nights of your holiday
  • Fine wine (or soft drink alternative) with all evening meals and coffee to follow
  • 2 experienced bilingual guides with each tour
  • Delivery of your luggage to your hotel room each day
  • Entry fees to attractions and historical sites
  • Morning onward transfers
  • An unforgettable experience!

We try to include as much as we can within the price, while keeping things as flexible as possible. With the explosion of low cost airlines and the easy access to the TGV rail system from the UK, we believe that it is more economical and convenient for customers to arrange their own travel to the region. Links to the airlines and railway companies can be found in frequently asked questions.

Transfers

We provide the transfers to and from the local airports and the nearest TGV stations, and other locations by arrangement. If you have driven down, we arrange secure parking for your car and return you to it after the tour.

Hotels

We stay in very comfortable hotels, mostly 3*, occasionally 4*, and very occasionally superior 2* hotels which we choose if they have charm and comfort above their rating. All rooms have en-suite shower or bath facilities.

We select our hotels for their character as well as their facilities, and avoid chains in favour of independent privately run hotels.

Prices are based on two sharing in twin or double rooms. Singles are available on request. Where possible, we choose hotels with swimming pools as there is nothing quite like a dip after a day in the saddle!

It is sometimes necessary to change accommodation for reasons of room availability, minor adjustments to the route or upgrading the hotels. We will always endeavour to use hotels of an equal or higher level of comfort/facilities to those shown – please contact us to check for the most up-to-date information regarding your particular tour.

Meals

All evening meals are included, and we carefully select the restaurants for cuisine and ambience, and favour those with a strong regional flavour.

All meals include a starter, main course and dessert, some will have an additional cheese course. We are happy to arrange for our restaurants to cater for specific dietary requirements and allergies etc.

We do not include lunch, as the costing of these is beyond our control, but where route and weather allow we organise picnics; these feature copious salads, cold meats, cheeses, crusty bread, fruits, etc, and a choice of drinks; we ask for a contribution for the costs of the consumables, which usually works out at 8 or 9 euros per person per picnic. Where route or weather does not allow a picnic, we recommend suitable cafés and bistros.

Bikes & Equipment

We provide lightweight alloy framed Trek ‘hybrid’ touring bicycles with 27 indexed gears, fully equipped with lock, pump and toolkit (although our guides will generally be on hand to fix punctures and minor mechanical problems).

For carrying the items you might need during the day (camera, wallet, windbreaker etc.) we fit a capacious handlebar bag which also features a large map pocket. These clip on and off the bike in a flash so that you can always take your valuables with you when off the bike.

The bikes are meticulously maintained and we keep a wide range of sizes; female specific saddles are also available. We do not provide helmets automatically, as we find people prefer their own if they want to wear one, and sizing and fit is quite personal; however we always have helmets available for use. We also carry rain-capes should they be required (but hopefully not!). For certain tours we also have available 27 speed drop-handlebar race-style bikes, and tandems may also be available on certain tours by special request. We hire these locally, and charge on the additional cost. 

E Bikes

For nearly all of our tours an e-bike - electrically assisted bicycle - is an extra-cost option. These bikes apply a 'multiplier' to the level of input provided by the rider, the level of assistance can be adjusted for the terrain. This can be useful if there are members of your party have very different levels of bike-fitness and experience, as hills that look daunting suddenly become easy with an e-bike.

Please contact us for details.

 

Guides and Backup

There will be two guides on every tour; one cycling with the group and one in the minibus which will follow the group. The bus carries all luggage not required for the day's ride and will always be available for anyone at any point during the day. If for instance you want to take a day off the bike, or if a particular day seems a little hard, the bus will take you for as long or as little as you wish it to.

Everybody is provided with detailed route maps for each day, and both guides are easily contactable by mobile phone. The guides are enthusiastic experts on the local area and will be able to sort out any problems or special requests that you might have.

Le Château d'Igé, Igé (Macon)

This 19th Century country house was turned into a hotel 50 years ago; it has since gained 4 star status. The spacious grounds include a huge swimming pool and the hotel also has a top-notch restaurant.

Chateau d'Ige

Le Rempart, Tournus

The former city guardhouse dating from the 15th Century is now a luxury 4 star hotel with a gourmet restaurant ideally placed for exploring the medieval town.

Hotel Rempart Tournus

Château de Saint- Michel, Rully

Dating back to the 19th century, it remains authentic with stylish furniture, underground cellars and an amazing chapel on site. Dinner is no less than spectacular a true burgundian dining experience.

Hôtel de la Poste, Beaune

The Poste is a former 17th Century coaching in which as the name suggests was once a staging post for the mail service where horses would be changed and weary travellers refreshed. Now a 4* hotel, ideally placed for visiting the fascinating town of Beaune, the Poste has an elegant piano bar as well as a relaxing courtyard garden and a wonderful restaurant.

Château de Saulon, Saulon-la-Rue

Another 17th Century Château set in 40 hectares of private parkland with a superb circular swimming pool, the Chateau de Saulon is the perfect setting to end your cycling trip. The restaurant is set in the elegant former orangerie of the château, and on summer evenings dining on the terrace as the sun sets over the park is an unforgettable experience.

Chateau de Saulon

Below we answer all the most common questions that you might ask before choosing a French Cycling Holidays tour. If you have any further questions then please get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you.

How fit do I need to be?

Anybody who is reasonably active should be able to take part and enjoy our tours.

The tours have different levels of physical exertion — whilst the Loire Valley tours and Bordeaux tour are easy going; the Normandy, Provence Roman Heritage, and Burgundy tours are a little more strenuous, whilst and the Provence Lubéron, Dordogne and Languedoc tours require a reasonable level of fitness.

For nearly all of our tours an e-bike - electrically assisted bicycle - is an extra-cost option. These bikes apply a 'multiplier' to the level of input provided by the rider, the level of assistance can be adjusted for the terrain. This can be useful if there are members of your party have very different levels of bike-fitness and experience, as hills that look daunting suddenly become easy with an e-bike. Contact us via the contact page if you would like more details.   

The Sports tours are aimed at enthusiast cyclists who might want to bring their own road bikes. However, the rides are not races and there is no time limit - and there is always the minibus if things get too tough!

We would nevertheless recommend that anyone who has not taken any regular exercise for some time to consult their doctor before considering any activity based holiday. Bear in mind that a little regular riding before coming on a cycling vacation will always be a benefit to the experience.

How do I get there?

We pick up and drop off from the nearest international airports and TGV/railway stations to the start of each tour. (We can drop at a nearer airport or station by arrangement if more convenient for you and logistically possible). This gives everyone the option of making their way by the most economical or convenient means. The major options are:

Flying from the UK

Ryanair flies into following airports:

Nimes (for the Provence tours and Languedoc tours; Ryanair also fly out of Beziers and Montpellier for the Languedoc tour); Bergerac (for the Bordeaux tour), Dinard for the Normandy tour, Grenoble for Alpine trips and Pau (for the Classic Cols tour)

Ryanair operates out of Liverpool, London Stansted and London Luton Airports amongst others.

Easyjet flies into Montpellier (for the Provence tours) and out of Bordeaux (for the Bordeaux tour); it flys into Geneva and Lyon for Alpine tours and also out of Nice for the Alpine Raid.

British Airways prices can be reasonable if booked in advance — BA fly into Bordeaux for train transfers to Bergerac (Bordeaux tour), and Marseilles (Provence tours).

If we do not pick up from the airport itself, we will advise on rail connections from the airport to our pick-up points.

Rail for visitors from outside Europe / those already in France

The TGV can be an exceptionally quick way of reaching many French destinations from the UK and from Paris for those flying from overseas or UK regions.

The Eurostar SNCF (French National Railways) TGV websites may be useful. As a guide, London St Pancras to Avignon via TGV takes approximately 6½ hours; Tours takes 4 hours. From Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, the point of arrival for most intercontinental flights, Tours is 1½ hours by TGV, Avignon (for Provence) just over 3 hours.

Brive-la-Gaillarde is 4 hours from Paris by rail for the Dordogne tour. We are more than happy to advise on rail options — please contact us. Internet sales from the French SNCF site ( www.voyages-sncf.com sites are possible but are in French; the approved agency for the US and Canada is RailEurope ; however we are happy to advise and help with the French website.

Driving

This may be a good choice if your French Cycling Holiday is part of a longer stay. We will arrange secure parking for your car at or near our first hotel, and return you to your car at the end of the trip. (Note - this service may not be available on certain long distance sports tours - please check with us). The major ferry and crossing companies from the UK are Eurotunnel, P&O, Brittany Ferries, LD Lines, Speedferries and SeaFrance.

If it is more convenient for you to hire a car Europcar in our experience have the best rates for rentals where the drop-off is at a different location to the pickup.

However you choose to travel, we are very happy to help you sort out your itinerary.

What kind of pedals do you use?

Pedals are obviously fairly important on a cycling tour! We stock the following kinds:

Flat – i.e. no special cleats or grips, these pedals can be used with any kind of footwear. If you do not regularly use special pedals or cycling shoes, we recommend standard trainers/sneakers to wear while riding.

SPD/flat – we also have pedals with one side flat and one side an SPD cleat. This is the standard Shimano SPD compatible system; two bolts and the small cleat pictured on the shoe with the yellow sole. These cleats are ideal for cycling tours as the cleat is usually recessed into the bottom of the shoe. The pedals are visible to the right of the picture.

SPD/flat style pedals

Flats with cages – we have a small number of flat pedals with cages & straps – again if you are not used to this, we wouldn’t recommend starting a tour with them!

Other – we do NOT stock any other pedal systems. If you use any other kind of pedal, you are very welcome to bring your own and our guides can fit them to your bike for the week. However, we would advise against racing-style pedals such as the Look Keo, Shimano SPD-SL or similar, as these tend to have a large, protruding cleat on the sole of the shoe which makes walking around visits or lunch stops (or even nipping into a public toilet!) quite uncomfortable and dangerous. Sports tours are a little different as there are much longer days and less off-the-bike walking – a choice is ultimately up to you though!

Can I use my own bike?

We are happy for anyone to bring their own bikes. However, the budget airlines charge around £50 each way and packing and carriage can be a hassle. Our Trek bikes are of a high standard, and our customers usually express pleasant surprise at the quality of the machines, so it might be a better option to bring your saddle and/or pedals which we will be very happy to fit. In any case there will always be a backup bike should you have a mechanical problem. Please feel free to call us for advice on bike transportation.

What should I wear?

The main thing that people who are not regular distance cyclists worry about is a sore behind. This is not as is popularly thought due to too-hard saddles, but friction between skin and garments. This is why professional cyclists wear skin-tight lycra shorts with padded inserts. Many people feel a bit self-conscious in this sort of gear and your local cycle shop will have a range of padded undershorts which can be worn under normal clothing, or regularly styled shorts with sewn-in padded liners. Otherwise, lightweight comfortable clothing (tee-shirts, shorts, trainers) is ideal, with something warmer like a fleece just in case. As we will be dining well, you might like to take something presentable (but not formal — no-one on a French Cycling Holiday stands on ceremony!) for the evening meal.

How many people on each tour?

As well as being an active holiday, sampling the best that France has to offer, we believe that our trips should be an opportunity to meet people and make new friends. Our groups are limited to a maximum of 16, which is the largest number that we can give a personal service to, and a minimum of 6 people, which we feel is the number needed to achieve a group spirit. If we cannot achieve this number, we may cancel the tour giving a minimum of five weeks notice.

What weather are we likely to encounter?

We time our tours so that the weather should be ideal for cycling for each tour. For that reason we have our Provence and Languedoc tours in the late spring and early autumn, rather than in high summer when it can be too hot to cycle comfortably after 10 a.m. The Loire Valley, Dordogne, Bordeaux and Burgundy tours are more temperate, which is why we concentrate these tours in July and August. We cannot guarantee the weather, but it would be very unlucky to have more than one wet day on any of the tours.

Are there any age limits?

There is no specific upper age limit — the only constraint is a reasonable level of fitness. Children between 10 and 16 are welcome as part of family groups. We do not recommend these tours for children under 10.

Do I need travel insurance?

We require all participants to have travel insurance with full medical cover. It is part of the conditions of our tours that participant should provide evidence of suitable cover. If you have any questions about the cover required please contact us for advice.

What financial protection is in place for my booking?

In accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Tours Regulations 1992” customers of French Cycling Holidays Limited will be indemnified in respect of their net ascertained financial loss sustained arising from the cancellation or curtailment of the declared trip travel arrangements arising solely from the event of the financial failure of French Cycling Holidays Limited.

This insurance has been arranged by Towergate Chapman Stevens through Hiscox Insurance Company Limited.

“Mike, I think your cycling tours are magic, we had a wonderful time and were lucky to have a great group of people to cycle through another beautiful region of France.  Doug and I are doing the annual Spring Cycle in Sydney this weekend and I used to think 50km was a long way, now it will be a ‘piece of cake’!”

Margaret, New South Wales, Australia.


“Hotel choices are very good, lots of character, the meals were superb! Henry and David, the guides, were great – key to the great experience.”

Diane and Tom, Connecticut, USA.


“Truly enjoyable – an ideal mix of sightseeing and cycling, every hotel was excellent, Alan and Roger were caring and helpful.”

Al and Karen, Ontario, Canada.


 “As close to perfect as possible – an addictive experience.”

Harald & Karin, Fiellhamar, Norway.


“Fantastic experience. We didn't have to worry about anything, even food or wine, which was divine. We can't speak highly enough about Graeme and Janice; they were professional while at the same time very friendly and informative. The trip was everything and more we hoped for!”

Melinda & Justin, Currumbin, Queensland, Australia.


“Another phenomenal vacation. There's not better way to visit France and to experience French culture.”

Eva, Pearland, Texas.

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