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Cycling for Softies top 5 places to visit in Burgundy

Posted 01 Jan 2016

With its illustrious winemaking tradition, rolling fields and breath-taking châteaux, Burgundy is the perfect destination for laid-back and indulgent luxury cycling holidays. Cycling routes tend to be leisurely, with plenty to see along the way. From art galleries to vineyards, here are five sights not to miss. 

1. Château de Cormatin

Cormatin has been home to French aristocrats, poets and even the Director of the Monte Carlo opera, who staged an annual outdoor operetta here. Now, you can meander through this 17th-century château's hall of mirrors, with its opulent 'sky painted' ceiling, and admire the gilt and lapis lazuli decoration in the ornate study, atmospherically illuminated by candlelight. The gardens are ideal for whiling away a long summer afternoon, and hide rarities like tulip trees and swamp cypresses, as well as a maze, an outdoor theatre and a vegetable garden.

2. Château d'Ancy-le-Franc

The canton of Ancy-le-Franc is home to a splendid pale-stone, perfectly symmetrical Renaissance château set in a lush landscape. Here you can see one of the finest collections of 16th and 17th-century frescoes in France, depicting vivid battle scenes and mythological tales. The château hosts a lively events programme, from film screenings to cookery courses. You can even learn culinary tricks that would have been used to impress Louis XIV when he dined here.

3. Château de Tanlay

Surrounded by a wide, jade-coloured moat, its distinctive entrance flanked by two obelisks, this spectacular white limestone castle with domed towers is a dramatic sight. The Renaissance château is renowned for its frescoes, and also displays interesting, ever-changing art exhibitions. From here, it's an easy walk or cycle to the welcoming little village of Tanlay, on a calm stretch of the Burgundy Canal.

4. Ducal Palace, Dijon

Once the home of medieval knight Philip the Bold, the Ducal Palace has changed substantially over the years, with neoclassical and other embellishments added to a building that dates back to the 14th century. Inside, you'll find one of France's most impressive galleries, the Musée des Beaux-Arts (Fine Arts Museum). Marvel at artworks by Jan van Eyck and Claude Monet, alongside sculptures created in the Burgundian court's own workshop. Before you leave, climb up the tower of Philippe le Bon (Philip the Good), for views over the bustling city of Dijon.

5. Beaune

From dancing the night away at a live jazz performance to cruising along the canal or sampling local wines, the attractive town of Beaune has much to entertain you. At the heart of the old city is the Hospices de Beaune, a 15th-century hospital with a shimmering glazed-tile roof. Inside, canopied beds for patients line the great hall. No trip to Beaune would be complete without a cycle out to the countryside on the Voie des Vignes, or the 'Way of the Vineyards'. Take a two-wheeled tour through towns such as Puligny-Montrachet, known for its crisp, complex white wines of the same name, or Pommard, which produces rich, fruity reds.

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