There are more reasons to visit France’s Burgundy region than the wine, but you’d be forgiven for believing otherwise. Wine is the life and lore of Burgundy; it permeates all things. So you may as well go with it while you’re here. Wine triumphs over reason anyway, we like to think—and the reasons to love Burgundy (both the wine and the place) are best enumerated with a glass in hand and a vineyard vista at your feet—or bike wheel, if you prefer.
An Eden in the Wine Heartland
For anyone on a mission to enjoy iconic wine—to experience it, to live it, to obsess over it—you can’t beat a landscape with roots steeped, literally, in its creation. Burgundy is a marquee member of France’s wine heartland, an Eden that thrives on the balance between old-fashioned ideas and the infectious rejuvenation of its cuisine and wine making. Its most lauded bottles are dusted with a mystique that binds generations who grow the esteemed Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, crafting precious wines from humble fruit. Sure, some wines may be thoroughbreds of awesome power and potential, but the artisans who craft them will gleefully share their prizes at barrel tastings, garden picnics and Michelin-starred meals alike.
Biking and Walking in Burgundy
Just two hours from Paris by high-speed rail, Beaune—Burgundy’s unofficial wine capital—is truly a hub of activity, a walled city with a lively core replete with luxury accommodations, great restaurants and bistros, and amazing biking and walking options within about 10 minutes of town. While the wine is reason enough to visit, once you get on the move, the surroundings deliver hiking trails and thousands of miles of peaceful paved roads that weave through quiet villages. Need a little fortification? We don’t mean the castles. The red wines of the Côte de Nuits and the legendary whites of Montrachet are always well at hand, as are an infinite number of other spectacular names.
Cyclists will experience what many believe to be the best biking in France, with forays into the Hautes-Côtes, the Ouche Valley, and Maranges. They’ll also encounter some of the planet’s best terrain along the famed Côte d’Or escarpment.
“Every time I visit Burgundy, I reserve time to take my favourite ride, up the côte,” says Butterfield & Robinson founder George Butterfield. “The climb is beautiful—not too hard, but a good challenge—on reaching the top, I dismount and look out over some of the finest vineyards in the world, all still tended by individual farmers whose families have been doing this for generations. It’s stunning.”
Whether devouring the views from a customized bike or on foot, the purest local pastime is getting off your feet and digging into the food and drink. After all, the secret to French vitality is found in butter and red wine, not carbs and electrolytes.
A Profound Impression
These are the experiences we like to share with you. And we can, because B&R has cultivated its own deep roots in Burgundy. The company’s first organized biking trip took place here back in 1980. The experience made such a profound impression on George Butterfield and his family that they couldn’t leave. Flat out refused to, in fact. Now, George’s son David lives here and makes Butterfield Wines, and our European operations are headquartered in the walled city of Beaune.
We haven’t spent three decades idling our time away, either. (Well, not all of it…) We’ve been diligently and happily researching, querying and dining—sniffing out winemakers, chefs and hoteliers who know exactly how to inspire every pedal or stride around this bucolic landscape. It’s probably not fair to call it putting our noses to the grindstone, but we’ve definitely worn out a few pairs of shoes tracking down the ultimate Burgundian indulgences. We’ve made it easy so you can concentrate on the task at hand. (You remember the task, don’t you?)
With B&R pulling the strings, your culinary awakening could take place at an unforgettable dinner inside the storied walls of the Caves Champy domaine in Beaune, or perhaps while sipping Grand Cru wines in the vineyards where they were born. Or, with a longer ride under your belt, maybe a feast from the 1-star Michelin kitchen (and a night’s rest) at the historic Abbaye de la Bussière, a 12th-century abbey recast as the region’s most exclusive boutique hotel.