Chalonnais: Subtly filtered light
From the Côtes de Beaune hills to the Bresse Plain in the Saône River Valley, Chalonnais country encompasses an array of contrasted landscapes, vineyards, forests, vegetable and cereal cropland. On the hillsides (some of which peak at over 400 m), Pinot and Chardonnay grapes thrive by virtue of both climate and geography.
Maranges, Hautes Côtes de Beaune, Bourgogne Côtes du Couchois, Rully, Mercurey, Givry and Montagny all produce extremely high-quality vintages reputed well beyond the Burgundian territory. The Chalonnais region is centred around the city of Chalon-sur-Saône, famous in particular for its July Open-Air Festival (Chalon takes to the Street).
The area also boasts Chagny, a celebrated stop for both its gastronomy and marina, the village of Rully and its feudal castle, and a host of other villages exuding Burgundy's charms along the wine road.
In short, the Chalonnais is to be experienced first-hand and then enjoyed over and over in your memories.
Tour the vineyards however you like whenever you like!
A natural extension of the Grand Cru Wine Road to the north, Maranges, Couchois and Côte Chalonnaise deploy tasty routes of their own whether you're driving, boating on the Canal du Centre or cycling along the Greenways. A wonderful outing is in store amidst the vineyard-clad hillsides, admiring a bountiful nature, small stone walls and bucolic stretches of canals, during which an aficionado can cross nearly 40 wine villages. Here's the perfect occasion to assess the wealth this region has to offer, through a sampling of a few leading Burgundy appellations, like Rully, Mercurey, Givry, Montagny and Bouzeron.
More information: Vineyard walks
30 minutes from Beaune, Chalon-sur-Saône is an appealing city renowned for its art and history, as well as the birthplace of Nicéphore Niepce, inventor of photography (a museum is dedicated to this illustrious local figure). It is also well known for the open-air festival "Chalon takes to the Street", where for the past thirty-some years street artists have been shaking the town to its core during 4 days in July.
Chalon is such a delightful place to stroll, whether around the Saint-Vincent Cathedral, along the Saône banks or just several kilometres away in the heart of wine country and its castles: Rully, Germolles, Pontus de Tyard, to name a few.
Chalon houses a good number of half-timbered structures, towers, fortifications, bastions and other architectural marvels laid out for discovery along the Orbandale path, a circuit through the historic centre covering a bit less than 3 km. At the end of this invigorating walk, take time to contemplate the cathedral on a shaded patio at the attractive place Saint-Vincent, offering a moment of pure and simple contentment.
More information: https://www.achalon.com/en
The Germolles Castle in Mellecey
North of Chalon, the Germolles castle provides one of the best preserved houses of Burgundy's Dukes, serving as an ideal spot to embark upon a truly authentic exploration into a princely palace of the Kingdom of France.
Having been inhabited successively by John the Fearless, Philip the Good and Charles the Bold, this chateau is especially known for having housed Marguerite of Flanders, Duchesse of Burgundy, and her husband Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy during the 16th century.
Feel free to wander this exceptional residence: its owners will relish the chance to recount its history.
More information: Germolles castle