Saône-&-Loire is highly prized by cyclists, out for the day or touring, all types of walkers, horseback riding enthusiasts and waterway navigators for a good reason: this is the ideal playground for all lovers of physical activity and discovery.
Are you more inclined to put on your walking shoes, saddle a horse, unmoor a boat, or all three at the same time? Are you drawn to spectacular panoramic vistas? Whatever your temperament and desires, Saône-&-Loire has more than ample resources to propose the outing of your dreams.
Saône-&-Loire is a broad palette of landscapes and itineraries offering hikers of all levels (from novice to expert) a plethora of marked walks, paths and trails. In all, over 667 Green Walks-labelled circuits are yours to explore throughout the department.
For those who enjoy getting out on walks, whether with family or friends, try a stroll through the vineyards of AOC label producers, as exemplified by the educational path in the Montagny growing area or the trail at the Roche de Solutré monument, head out on a bucolic jaunt beginning in Charolles (take the path through pastureland and old lime kilns) or stomp through wetter terrain like the marshlands around Montceaux-l'Etoile or the trail used by barge sailors and tile-makers along the Loire's banks.
The abundance of natural sites makes for scenic outings amidst protected settings like Uchon's famous Carnaval Formations, the La Truchère-Ratenelle Nature Reserve or the Mont Avril. And for really serious and specialised hikers, Saône-&-Loire offers access to at least ten of the nationally marked "GR" trails.
For another, more spiritual side of walking trips: the Pilgrimage trails that attract hikers on a quest for shared personal and human experiences. Saône-&-Loire provides gentle sections of the Pilgrimage routes from Vézelay to Autun. In departing Cluny, the legendary Camino de Santiago winds its way on a journey to Le Puy-en-Velay. A marked feeder itinerary (only in France), leaving the Mâcon-Loché high-speed rail station, connects with this major pilgrimage path. For a taste of long-distance roaming adventures, walk the renowned Chemin des Moines (or Monks' Trail) between Sennecey-le-Grand and Cluny, on the footsteps of Cluny's monks. 44 km long and presenting no noteworthy difficulty (despite a few rocky stretches), this excursion crosses well-preserved natural settings with plenty of panoramas to behold.
An area with a longstanding tradition of horse breeding (notably around the Cluny National Equestrian Centre), Saône-&-Loire offers horse enthusiasts a wonderful and well-preserved nature through Charolais-Brionnais pastures and countryside, unforgettable rides on vine-clad hillsides or along d'Artagnan's European itinerary, as a way of memorialising the most celebrated mousquetaire.
Saône-&-Loire on horseback is to be discovered as you wish: an array of local equestrian tourism centres are on hand to customise your outing according to the circuit of your choice. Skilled professionals well versed in the local amenities and backcountry will help you appreciate your ride here with a personal caring touch.
For family excursions, carriage rides are an ideal way to spend relaxing time outdoors at a draft horse's plodding pace, a different and serene approach to discovering Burgundy's resplendent landscapes, heritage and architecture.
Along its 300 km of navigable waterways Saône-&-Loire unveils its nautical side in proposing another perspective of its natural beauty. A full range of boats and excursion formulae are yours for the choosing, from a short afternoon water break to the bold navigator's adventure at the helm of a houseboat, not to overlook a group boating excursion, private electric craft and what about a cruise ship tour… Anchors aweigh!
With a departure from Digoin, Louhans, Mâcon, La Truchère or Verdun-sur-le-Doubs, wait no longer to board your touring vessel and taste the pleasure of a short cruise in discovering the banks of the Saône or Seille River. Enjoy family time at the river's gentle pace.
Another possibility featuring greater autonomy is available from Digoin, Mâcon, La Truchère, Saint-Leger-sur-Dheune, Saint-Marcel or Verdun-sur-le-Doubs: rent a boat (no licence required) for an hour, half-day or full day and offer passage to family and friends (some craft can accommodate up to 19 onboard!) for an outing at your speed and at your command.
Why not embark on the ultimate adventure and take on the river and its canals at the helm of a houseboat casting you as the hero (in the role of captain)! With departures from Chagny, Digoin, Gigny-sur-Saône, Saint-Leger-sur-Dheune or Louhans, board your vessel fully equipped with all appliances and set sail (no licence required, although an initial training is systematically proposed for familiarisation with the controls) on the course of your preference. This original and exciting way to explore Southern Burgundy provides a source of reinvigoration and pleasure!
River cruise ships navigate this beautiful and wide stretch of the Saône: quite an attractive site from the banks! These ships make their way from the south of France into Burgundy, with ports of call organised in Mâcon and Chalon-sur-Saône.