Wednesday, 18 April 2012 4:34 PM
Burgundy is a picturesque part of France, characterised by its famous vineyards, pretty villages and rolling countryside. Cycling holidays are the perfect way to explore this region in the east of the nation in a relaxed and leisurely manner.
Using pedal power instead of travelling by car will allow you to really enjoy the stunning scenery as you move from place to place and, as you'll be exercising every day, you won't need to feel guilty about indulging in the delicious cuisine and fine wines along the way!
So, where exactly can you visit on cycling holidays in France that take you through Burgundy? Here are just a few of the spots you can stop off at.
Auxerre is a stunning town steeped in history and it is here that you will begin your cycling adventure through Burgundy. Before you climb on your bike for the first day's pedalling, make sure you take the time to discover some of its fascinating attractions.
Saint-Etienne Cathedral is possibly the most famous landmark in the town and is renowned for the quality of its stained-glass windows. Parts of the building - such as the crypts - date back to the 11th century, while the rest of the place of worship was constructed or modified over the course of the following 500 years.
Another religious sight you must see is the Saint-Germain Abbey, the 9th-century crypts of which are home to the oldest mural paintings known in France. Other sections of the monastery have been added over the years, such as the Saint-Jean tower in the 12th century and the cloister in the 17th century.
From Auxerre, you will cycle to the picturesque village of Ligny-le-Chatel, from where you will be just a short ride away from the world-renowned wine producing area of Chablis. Paying a visit to its famous vineyards is a must on gastronomic cycling holidays, so once you are well rested get back in the saddle and head off. There are numerous vineyards in Chablis, with four different appellations grown in the district.
Most of the vineyards around the town offer tours and tasting sessions, so leave plenty of time for a leisurely stroll among the grapes and a glass or two of the finished product once you have finished exploring.
Another possible trip from Ligny-le-Chatel is to Pontigny, which is home to a stunning abbey dating back to the 12th century. The structure is considered to be one of the best examples of Cistercian church architecture, so it is certainly worth stopping here to admire this unusual structure. The abbey also became the home of three exiled English bishops in the 12th and 13th centuries - Thomas Becket, Stephen Langton and Edmond Rich.
On the final day of your cycling break, you will head back towards Auxerre, but not before stopping off at the amazing vineyard where Cremants sparkling wines are produced, near St-Bris-le-Vineux. The cellars here are located some 50 m underground and now span more than 4 hectares. You can tour these subterranean caves and see the rows of bottles where the wine is maturing - and developing its bubbles. During its time in the caverns carved out of the limestone bedrock, the wine naturally becomes sparkling.
After you've explored the cool, underground cellars, you can enjoy the Burgundy sunshine and a few of the different tipples made by the numerous wine makers who all use the caves to produce their beverages.