DIJON, THE CAPITAL OF BURGUNDY
Dijon is perhaps best known for its mustard (named after the town), which is still produced locally, but it is also one of the most beautiful cities in France, and its historic buildings and byways were not heavily damaged by bombing in World War Two and are largely intact.
Dijon was for some time the capital of the Dukes of Burgundy. Burgundy was a great power during the 14th and 15th centuries, when the dukes controlled a large part of what is now northeastern France, western Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
The dukes were great patrons of the arts, so Dijon was a major centre of Gothic and early Renaissance music, painting, and sculpture, attracting some of the greatest and most famous artists and musicians from Flanders in particular. The music the great composers left behind can be performed anywhere, but it is particularly in the fields of sculpture and architecture that masters left a lasting mark on Dijon.
Today, Dijon is a cosmopolitan city, with universities in the centre and industrial plants on the outskirts. Traffic is restricted in the centre of the city, so many parts of central Dijon are quiet and relaxing. While perhaps not an ideal city for a whole holiday,it's definitely worth a day trip.
More info on www.visitdijon.com
BEAUNE, A MEDIEVAL TOWN SURROUNDED BY VINEYARDS
Situated in the heart of prestigious vineyards, like Pommard, Corton-Charlemagne, La Romanée-Conti whose names make wine lovers' eyes sparkle, Beaune is also a city of art with the master element of the town's heritage: the Hôtel-Dieu (Hospices de Beaune) and its multicoloured roofs.
More info on www.beaune-tourism.com
You will find that the town of Autun grows on you. It is small enough for everything to be easily accessible, yet large enough to have many places of interest to explore. Situated at the southern end of the Morvan Natural Park it is sturdy and dependable like its ramparts, surrounded by open countryside – rivers, lakes, fields and farms. To get in the swing of things, head to the square in front of the cathedral, and on a sunny day, sit and enjoy a café life.
This is a town that basks in its Roman origins. Several of the ancient gateways into the town still exist - Porte d'Arroux, built in the 1st century and Porte St-André, the 4th century gateway. After the Romans conquered Bibracte from the Gauls, Emperor Augustus set up his headquarters here in the 1st century, calling the town Augustodunum. It grew in prosperity, controlling the Agrippa Way along the trade route from Lyon to Boulogne. Augustus built the largest Roman Amphitheatre of its time, seating up to 20,000 spectators and the remains can still be seen today, with summer spectaculars performed there each year celebrating past glories.
More information on www.burgundytoday.com/towns/autun
Vézelay, it ‘s name alone, evokes a village that winds its way up the hill crowned by a church – a miracle of the Roman art, classified World Heritage by Unesco.
It is one of the most beautiful villages of France, a sanctuary, a delicious white wine, a place for the pilgrim to start from on the road to St. Jacques de Compostelle and the gateway to the Morvan. With an exceptionally well preserved environment of supreme landscape, there are underestimated treasures to be found in the heart of each village.
More info on www.vezelaytourisme.com