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Luxury in Burgundy

Getting a taste for luxury

Burgundy has always enjoyed a position as one of the most prosperous regions of France. Historically this was for many reasons, perhaps most importantly a fertile countryside with abundant crops, and a strategically important location at the crossroads of Europe, linking Switzerland, Italy and beyond with the rest of France.

Today it is a wonderful holiday destination offering a delicious mélange of fascinating history, great food and wine, sunshine and plenty of space for all.

Stay awhile

Sure, it’s a great stopover en route to or from Provence or the Côte d’Azur. But better to stay a while, enjoy some easy going walking or cycling through the classic vineyards, maybe stopping for an impromptu tasting, buying a couple of special bottle on the way.

Aside from some modest hills, the terrain is rarely challenging – quiet country lanes, trails and paths through and around vineyards, along rivers and canals. And at the end of each day you can put your feet up and relax, reliving the day’s highlights and adventures over a glass of wine.

And, depending on the holiday you’ve chosen, you may be doing so in one of France’s most luxurious hotels, with decadent surroundings to immerse yourself in, an infuriatingly tempting menu from the Michelin starred restaurant to agonise over, and a wine list which basically says “Drink me!” under every listing and its description.

Roofs in Burgundy
Roofs in Burgundy

A little history

The Duchy of Burgundy was once more powerful than France itself and managed to remain independent for centuries, even taking the side of the English during the Hundred Years War. In the 15th century Burgundian influence stretched up as far as Belgium and in to Holland, a huge geographical sweep.

Such power could only be maintained through great wealth, and this often went hand in hand with religion, exemplified by the magnificent abbeys of Vézelay, Fontenay and Cluny, dating from the 4th century and at one point the largest church in Christendom. 

Dijon, the capital, became the epicentre of wealth and sophistication, one of Europe’s greatest centres of art, science and learning. The Palais des Ducs is a reminder of the unparalleled power of the dukes at this time. And with wealth and sophistication, came the time and inclination to up the ante on luxury, starting with what was on the menu.

Fontenay Abbey
Fontenay Abbey

The king of wines, the wine of kings

Wine production in the region was widespread since Roman times but this bore little relation to the wines we know in the modern era. However that changed during the time of Louis XIV, whose doctor unwittingly changed things forever and, in the centuries following, its economic value rose inexorably. The notion of wine as a luxury, or something very desirable and special, was born.

The Côte d’Or, between Dijon and Santenay, came to be synonymous with fabulous wines. The Côte de Nuits producing, arguably, the best reds and the Côte de Beaune the best whites. Other illustrious names include Mâconnais, Chalonnais, Beaujolais and Chablis of course. 

Burgundy wine is noted as being mono-cépage – from one grape variety, and sometimes one single vineyard. Pinot Noir, fickle and temperamental, is the most common red variety here, soft, rich and mouth filling, while Chardonnay makes some of the world’s greatest deep, buttery whites. 

Vineyards of Burgundy
Vineyards of Burgundy

Food, glorious food

Burgundy is blessed with fabulous countryside for producing superlative wine and world class beef. The heavy, pale Charolais cattle are part of the landscape, as much as the rows of vines, and the two combine in great dishes like boeuf bourguignon. 

Other specialities include chickens from Bresse (which famously has its own protected designation or AOC) and these are key to the finest coq au vin. Then there’s jambon persillé, escargots, eggs meurette and tête de veau – for some, the height of luxury is a dish of calf’s head with simple market vegetables and a glass of very decent Mâcon.

Traditional Coq au vin
Traditional Coq au vin

Luxury hotels

Staying somewhere just a little decadent takes any holiday to another level. We work hard to find wonderful, character properties that fit our ideals well: friendly, comfortable, with great food and well used to welcoming visitors in muddy boots or on two wheels.

Some of these properties are really rather luxurious, especially those in our ‘Prestige’ category. Below we flag up just a few to whet your appetite.

Le Chapeau Rouge, Dijon
Le Chapeau Rouge, Dijon

The one with a 13th century wine cellar

Le Chapeau Rouge Dijon

A beautiful 16th century mansion right in the heart of old Dijon and beside the imposing cathedral. Quite simply, this is one of best hotels in town and a great way to start your holiday. It’s steeped in history, with a 13th century wine cellar, and the Michelin starred restaurant offers sensational dishes showcasing local produce while also displaying international influences.

La Gentilhommerière, Nuits St Georges
La Gentilhommerière, Nuits St Georges

The one that’s a 16th century hunting lodge

La Gentilhommerière Nuits St Georges

On the edge of the world famous wine village, perhaps one of the most renowned of all, this was built as a hunting lodge in the 16th century. No doubt luxurious in its day, it is now a haven for travellers wishing to relax, indulge and experience the best of Burgundian cuisine, not to mention the finest of fine wines.

Le Cep, Beaune
Le Cep, Beaune

The one where Louis XIV stayed

Le CepBeaune

This 5 star establishment has a really welcoming atmosphere, combining 16th century charm with 21st century luxury, with corridors and lounges furnished with antiques, log fires and a piano room. The building has evolved over the centuries, gradually assimilating buildings from the 14th to the 18th centuries and incorporating several private mansions. 

The fascinating heritage and architecture remains intact, with one of the city’s most beautiful stone staircases, an internal courtyard featuring original Renaissance stone carvings and an artesian well. Not surprisingly, it is reputed that Louis XIV, the Sun King of Versailles fame and no stranger to luxury, once stayed here, almost certainly in the days before mini-bars. If it’s good enough for Louis….

Hôtel Lameloise, Chagny
Hôtel Lameloise, Chagny

The one with three Michelin stars

Hôtel LameloiseChagny

Set on a picturesque square, this is a seriously elegant 15th century house owned by the same family for over a hundred years. They have created a hotel of relaxed, discrete charm and comfort, with soft lighting, individually designed bedrooms and a wealth of well preserved Burgundian architectural features. 

If you like your luxury on a plate, in edible format, then this is the place: how does foie gras poché, huîtres fumées aux sarments de vigne, fines lamelles de pomme reinette sound? Or perhaps filet rôti & gratiné au pain d'épices, rillette d'épaule confite & polenta torréfiée?

L’Ermitage de Corton, Ladoix Serrigny
L’Ermitage de Corton, Ladoix Serrigny

The boutiquey one

L’Ermitage de CortonLadoix Serrigny

Set right in the bull’s eye centre of top flight wine villages, this is a truly impressive hotel with exemplary restaurant, where the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed in the manner of an upscale guest house. 

North of Beaune and with easy access to the Côte de Beaune and the Côte de Nuits, glancing at the map is like leafing through the pages of a particularly good wine list: Pommard, Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet, Nuits St Georges, Vosne-Romanée, Savigny Les Beaunes, Aloxe-Corton, Auxey-Duresses, Volnay are all on the doorstep and easily accessible. And many are available by the glass in the restaurant too. Bliss!

Holidays in Burgundy