Photos by: Teddy Verneuil
Burgundy’s gastronomic reputation and impressive history make its capital Beaune and nearby vineyards amongst France’s most-visited destinations. But we’re sidestepping this for a moment, in order to discover the lesser-known but equally beautiful areas in Nièvre and some spots in the Côte d’Or – off the well-trodden Route des Grands Crus.
Villages To Visit
With the River Yonne winding through the city, Auxerre is characterized by its cobbled streets, impressive Burgundian-style monuments and timber-framed, colorful architecture. Make sure you visit the Église Saint-Eusèbe d’Auxerre, Clock Tower and the Quai de la République lined with boats.
Named one of France’s Most Beautiful Towns, Flavigny-sur-Ozerain is a medieval city famed for producing Anis de Flavigny, a candy. Its winding streets, cobble stones and verdant walls certainly make it picture perfect. Flavigny’s chocolate-box aesthetic saw it cast as the backdrop to the cult film Chocolat!
The capital of the Yonne valleys, Clamecy is set in one of France’s most scenic areas. The town itself is protected with a wonderfully preserved 13th-16th century core. It has a distinct cultural activity, there’s a month-long festival during the summer which welcomes various musicians.
On the banks of the river Yonne, Merry’s main feature is the impressive Saussois cliffs – a popular climbing site for nearby Parisians. Scale their heights and enjoy breathtaking panoramas above, or admire their beauty from below with a river walk.
This sleepy town has been left to its own devices over recent years, but the medieval infrastructure and long bridge that leads up to it make it worth the visit.
Things To Do
21 Boulevard Saint-Jacques, 21200 Beaune
A few steps from the famous Hospices de Beaune, you’re sure to find something special here. This group of antiques vendors specialize in beautiful furniture, artwork and objects from the 17th to 20th centuries.
Make a plan to visit both the interior of this 17th-century chateau which is breathtaking, and stay to stroll around the beautiful formal garden and potager.
he River Yonne runs through several of the region’s villages, including Auxerre, Clamency and Merry. Electric, sail or canal boat, there are numerous ways to enjoy the area by water.
4 Rue de l’Abbaye, 21150 Flavigny-sur-Ozerain
Native to the town of Flavigny and first made by the area’s Benedictine monks, stop off at the Anis de Flavigny, a charming shop and little museum dedicated to this herbal treat. These candies are each made from single aniseed grain, repeatedly coated with layers of sugar syrup.
Where To Stay
5 Allée de Charbuy, 89240 Villefargeau
Just a few kilometers from the heart of Auxerre, this little manor house encapsulates French charm and style. Its leaf-strewn facade, toile de Jouy interiors, Louis XIII gilded dining room and surrounding forest will make leaving to tour the area quite the challenge!
‘La Resle’, 89230 Montigny-la-Resle
Between Chablis and Auxerre, Château de la Resle is a design-led boutique hotel where countryside tranquility and cutting edge style go hand in hand. There are only six rooms, each offering maximum intimacy in an informal setting.
Categorizing themselves as ‘ecoluxury’, Château de la Resle believes that beauty and finesse is compatible with sustainability, seen through their organic meals and low-energy power choices.
6 Avenue Foch, 89000 Auxerre
Ideal for exploring Auxerre and the surrounding area, this 3 star hotel has everything you need for a comfortable stay. A heated pool, comfortable rooms, a daily breakfast buffet and a warm welcome. An easy choice for those that like guest house comforts with the perks of a hotel.
Rue du Golf, 21200 Levernois
Surrounded by the lush greenery of Burgundy’s vineyards, this 5-star is a wonderful base for a wine tour. The stately 18th-century buildings are hidden away in 6-hectare park, and also host a michelin-starred restaurant.
Where To Eat
65, bis Rue de Paris, 89000 Auxerre
This unassuming little eatery delivers a consistently delicious menu with a focus on sweet treats. Run by a passionate young couple, come for lunch or around tea time to sample one of their home-baked pastries and a café au lait.
21 rue Saint-Etienne, 58000 Nevers
A discrete little restaurant with a humble exterior, but full of surprises inside. Very intimate with only ten tables spread between two rooms, one of which is ceilinged by 14th-century arches. The wine cellar, stock full of French classics, is also well worth the detour.
9 Place Saint-Sébastien, 58000 Nevers
A grand and traditionally decorated bistro in the heart of Nevers that serves affordable food accompanied by an extensive wine list. Expect such classics as tartare de boeuf and foie gras de canard, and don’t hesitate to ask for pairing recommendations!