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Burgundy: The Wine Route

Relics of the former Duchy of Burgundy abound as we cycle along scenic canals and in-between vineyards on the Route des Grands Crus between Lyon and Dijon in this storied corner of France.

  • 10 Days
  • Activity Level: Easy / Moderate
  • Daily Mileage: 16 - 35 mi
  • Daily Biking: 2 1/2 - 4 1/2 hr
  • Small Groups: 20
  • Biking
  • Easy / Moderate
  • Plane

Why You'll Love This Tour

Overview

Burgundy: The Wine Route

In storied Burgundy, pleasures are meant to be savored slowly – and that’s exactly what this delightful bicycling vacation was designed to do. We’ll spend time in Lyon, a gastronomic mecca, then set off for Dijon, which has attracted musicians, artists and writers for centuries. Along the way, we’ll cycle through some of the most famous vineyards in the world, roll along the pleasant Route des Jardins (Garden Route), join in a popular local pastime at a family home and taste the region’s famous wine. Only VBT gives you the time you need to drink it all in!

Cultural Highlights

  • Cycle through some of the most famous vineyards in the world
  • Play pétanque and enjoy homemade dessert at a local home
  • Tour the 15th-century Hospices de Beaune, the region’s most famous landmark
  • Explore Dijon, third in France for its number of protected historic buildings
  • Trace the pleasant Route des Jardins (Garden Route) along the Canal de Bourgogne
  • Celebrate your journey over dinner at a Dijon restaurant

What to Expect

This tour offers a combination of easy terrain mixed with moderate hills. Our VBT van support shuttle is always available for those who need assistance. Ideal for beginning and experienced cyclists alike.

Average Daily Mileage: 16 – 35 miles
Average Cycling Time: 2.5 – 4.5 hours

What to Expect

Average Daily Temperature (°F) – Lyon Apr 58°  May 67°  Jun 73°  Jul 80°  Aug 79°  Sep 72°  Oct 61° Average Rainfall (in.) – Lyon Apr 2.4  May 3  Jun 3.1  Jul 2.6  Aug 3.1  Sep 3  Oct 3.4

What’s Included:

Bicycle Tour Only – without Air

  • 6 nights in fine family-run or historic inns and 4-star hotels
  • 11 meals – 6 breakfasts, 2 picnic lunches, 3 dinners

No Hassle Air Package Plus

  • Roundtrip international airfare
  • 8 nights in fine family run or historic inns and 3- or 4-star hotels
  • 13 meals – 8 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 3 dinners
  • Transfers
  • AND the option to add our Low-Cost Trip Extensions: Pre-trip: Lyon – 2 nights for only $245 • Post Trip: Paris – 2 nights for only $345

Both Vacation Options Include

  • FREE use of custom VBT bicycle and helmet
  • Service of two bilingual VBT Trip Leaders
  • FULL VAN SUPPORT
  • Daily route directions and maps
  • Welcome reception with your leaders and fellow travelers
  • Sightseeing and cultural activities
  • 5% Frequent Traveler Credit to use on your next VBT vacation
  • Special Good Buy Discount
Dates & Prices
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Air Package Plus Single Supplement: $745 | Land Only Single Supplement: $595

Please note: Web Special savings cannot be combined with any other offer. Standard Terms & Conditions apply when purchasing this trip. 2015 Prices include all airline surcharges and Government taxes and fees. Ask our Tour Consultants for details. Every effort has been made to produce this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors. Prices are based on preferences selected above, including meals and sightseeing as specified in What’s Included. All prices are subject to change. Departure dates and prices shown may be updated several times daily, and apply to new bookings only.

Itinerary & Map
Or, Expand All Days
DAY 1: Depart from home / Fly to Lyon

Depart from home for France. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary.

DAY 2: Arrive in Lyon

Upon arrival at Lyon Airport, claim your luggage and clear customs. If your luggage is lost, fill out a PIR form before leaving the customs area; VBT representatives are not allowed into the customs area. Please note: Make sure that your VBT luggage tags are attached to your bags. This helps the representative identify you. After exiting customs, enter the arrival hall and look for your VBT representative or driver, who will be holding a VBT sign. Your representative will welcome you to France and arrange for your transfer via taxi or van (approximately 40 minutes, depending on traffic) to your Lyon hotel. Important: If you are delayed in meeting your VBT representative at the Lyon Airport, please call 06 68 32 22 05 from within France. Outside of France, call +33 6 68 32 22 05.

VBT provides you with City Information that includes information and recommendations for what to see and do in Lyon. VBT has included a one-day transportation pass for the day you are in Lyon. The whole city is yours from dawn to dusk to come and go as you please on the city’s network of buses, trams and subway. You will receive your individual passes upon check-in at hotel reception. Use the rest of the day to relax or to begin exploring the city. Please note that hotel check-in is at 2:00 p.m., but the hotel will try to have rooms available earlier if possible.

Hotel: Hotel Charlemagne

DAY 3: All guests meet in Lyon / Transfer to hotel via Cluny / Warm-up ride

VBT No-Air Package guests: Meet one of your Trip Leaders in the lobby of the Hotel Charlemagne at 9:00 a.m. He or she will be wearing VBT staff garments. If your arrival in Lyon is scheduled later than 9:00 a.m. or if you are delayed, you must take a taxi or train to the hotel in Tournus at your own expense. Taxi cost is approximately €200 (travel time is approximately 1 hour to the first hotel); train cost is approximately €30 (travel time approximately 1 hour, 10 minutes). If you have taken the train, depart the train station and take a right; you will see the hotel on the opposite side of the road about 300 yards away. If you experience any travel delays or changes to your schedule, please contact the first hotel to advise the staff, and they will inform your VBT Trip Leaders.

VBT Air Package and Pre-Trip Extension guests: Meet your VBT Trip Leader in the hotel lobby at 9:00 a.m. We will transfer by bus via Cluny to the first hotel in Tournus.

Cluny, the former abbey and home of the Pope around AD 910, was larger than St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It was later dynamited, and its richly carved stones were sold by an unscrupulous lot that included a local priest! We stroll along the ancient stone streets of Cluny with our local guide. We’ve timed our visit to fall on a market day, so you’ll have the opportunity to buy some local specialties for lunch on your own.

Arrive at your Tournus hotel, meet your second Trip Leader, and have free time to settle in before your Trip Leaders offer a safety and bike-fitting session. We’ll warm up with a brief ride through the countryside and on a bike path along the River Saône.

After the ride and some time to freshen up, meet for a welcome cocktail reception and dinner at the hotel.

Hotel: Hotel Le Rempart
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 4.4 miles (7 km)

DAY 4: Chardonnay loop

This morning our ride takes us on a flat bike path along the tranquil banks of the Saône. Keep your eyes open for the various birdlife along the route.

Leaving the river we enter rolling wine country, and in particular the dry white wine of the Chardonnay grape. Our first wine village is that of Vire. In the latter part of the 20th century the villages of Viré and Clessé realized that they had a quality wine that could rival the older appellation of Pouilly-Fuissé, so they applied for a separate status. This was finally granted in 1999 and the Viré-Clessé appellation emerged.

From here continue to a small village with a name intrinsically linked worldwide to that of dry white wine: Chardonnay. The village recently celebrated its thousandth anniversary and the name comes from ‘cardonnacum’ or the ‘place full of thistles’. Chardonnay grapes most likely originated from here and were then spread throughout France by the monks. The earliest recorded reference to Chardonnay occurs in 1330. Cistercian monks built stonewalls around their ‘Clos de Vougeot’ vineyard exclusively planted to Chardonnay grapes. The village is a collection of stone houses around the ‘lavoir’, a stream-fed wash-house and several ‘domaines’ – wine producers. Here we will stop for lunch at local restaurant.

We continue after lunch through the rural countryside before again rejoining the Voie Bleue bike path along the river and back into Tournus.

Tonight we take a short walk to La Banque des Grands Crus and meet Benjamin Needham. Originally from New Zealand, he will share his passion for wine during a regional wine tasting, in what was originally a bank but transformed into a cave in 1995. Afterward you are free to enjoy dinner on your own in one of the local restaurants, or you may choose to eat in the hotel’s renowned bistro.

Hotel: Hotel Le Rempart
Meals: B, L
Daily Options: 11, 17, or 25 miles (18, 27, or 40 km)

DAY 5: Cycle through the Côte de Beaune

This morning, we hop on a shuttle and briefly cycle through the vineyards of the Côte Chalonaise. At Chalon Sur Saône, we pedal along the Voie Verte bike path following the Canal du Centre to Santenay. Afterward, continue on small roads through the world-famous vineyards of the Côtes de Beaune, passing renowned villages such as Puligny Montrachet, Meursault and Pommard—considered by many oenophiles as the mecca of Chardonnay production.

This afternoon, there’ll be time for lunch on your own before continuing your ride into Beaune. After time to relax, we walk to a nearby restaurant for dinner.

Hotel: Hotel Le Cep
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 15 or 28 miles (24 or 45 km)

DAY 6: Home-hosted lunch

After an elaborate breakfast (which includes wine and cheese for those who are so inclined), we leave serious wine country and head into the countryside on narrow, quiet roads to the small hamlet of Cussigney. We are invited to the summer home of a local family in a historic locale. Here, enjoy a game of pétanque before a picnic lunch prepared by your Trip Leaders, followed by homemade dessert and coffee or tea with our generous hosts.

We find our way back to Beaune through forests, villages and—depending on the time of year—sunflower or canola fields. We settle back into our hotel, relax for a while, then walk into town to enjoy dinner in one of the fine restaurants on your own.

Hotel: Hotel Le Cep
Meals: B, L
Daily Options: 12, 21 or 29 miles (20, 33.5 or 47 km)

DAY 7: Hospices de Beaune / Routes des Grands Crus / Dijon

This morning, we take a 5-minute walk to the 15th-century Hospices de Beaune (also known as the Hotel Dieu), the epicenter of Beaune. This perfectly preserved historic treasure was the recipient of Europe’s earliest philanthropic endeavors and today is still entirely financed by private donations. It has never been closed a single day in more than 500 years! This authentic masterpiece of flamboyant Gothic art and architecture is Burgundy’s single most-visited site; you will understand why after setting foot inside the stunning courtyard. We visit the Hospice, then set out on our bike path toward Dijon, the beautiful capital of Burgundy.

Our cycle route today takes us through some of the most famous vineyards in the world. We wind our way to Nuits St George, the region where famed Côte de Nuits red wines are produced. Here, we stop to choose from different lunch options on your own before we cycle along the narrow lanes used as access routes by local vineyard workers. In this area, monks toiled for centuries making wine for religious services. Historians now point out they likely kept the very best wine for themselves. It is thought that the very first red wines in the world were made here – and that monks macerated the grape skins so the typical rosé wine would more closely resemble the blood of Christ.

The entire stretch of vineyards from Beaune to Dijon is currently under consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Along the Route des Grands Crus, you may wish to stop and explore old and charming villages such as Vosne-Romanée and Gevrey-Chambertin before continuing all the way to the outskirts of Dijon. As we enter the capital of Burgundy, we’ll marvel at the astonishingly well-preserved city center. Dijon, often called “Sleeping Beauty,” is third in France for its number of protected historic buildings, with more than 100 acres of the city center protected. This capital of the former ducal kingdom has attracted musicians, artists and writers for centuries.

After checking into our hotel, we set out on a walking tour with our Trip Leaders. This evening, venture out on our own to wander the medieval cobbled streets and find just the right place to enjoy an apero (aperitif) and dinner on our own.

Hotel: Grand Hotel de la Cloche
Meals: B
Daily Options: 12, 26 or 29 miles (20, 41 or 46 km)

DAY 8: Dijon / Burgundian canal / Valley de L'Ouche

After breakfast, we cycle directly from the hotel to the Route des Jardins (Garden Route) and the pleasant byway along the Canal de Bourgogne to Pont de Pany.

Our short option loops back to Dijon; longer options head into the Valley de L’Ouche along the winding River L’Ouche and the canal. The bucolic scenery here has made this route a favorite of every off-the-beaten-path traveler in France for its lush, peaceful and unspoiled countryside — true France.

In Dijon, you might browse the many fine museums specializing in everything from fine arts, sacred art and archeology to natural history and daily Burgundian life. Each is free and housed in a historic building.

Tonight, we finish our week of cycling with a dinner in one of Dijon’s restaurants.

Hotel: Grand Hotel de la Cloche
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 14, 27 or 35 miles (22, 43 or 56 km)

DAY 9: Transfer to Dijon railway station / VBT No-Air Package ends

VBT No-Air Package guests: Your tour ends after breakfast. It is a short 5-minute walk to the Dijon train station if you wish to take a train.

VBT Air Package guests: After breakfast, walk to the Dijon train station (your luggage will be taken in the van) and continue by high-speed train to Paris. Upon arrival, you will be met by a VBT representative and transferred to your centrally located hotel.

VBT provides you with City Information that includes information and recommendations for what to see and do in Paris. Use the rest of the day to relax or to begin exploring Paris.

Hotel: Millennium Hotel Paris Opera
Meals: B

DAY 10: Depart for Home

After breakfast*, transfer to the Paris Charles De Gaulle airport for your return flight.** Please ensure you are ready in the hotel reception area at the designated time.

*Please note: For guests with early-morning departures, breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the front desk to verify the times that breakfast is served.

**VBT recommends that you check your transfer time in your “Transfer Reminder.” The transfer is prearranged by VBT and is prepaid. VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to the airport will be at your own expense.

Meals: B

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Accommodations

Hotel Le Cep

It won’t take long to see that Beaune’s Hotel Le Cep, tucked into the heart of the medieval city, was made for royalty. This was Louis XIV’s favorite accommodation when he visited Burgundy, and it’s sure to be yours, too. This unique lodging was established as a private home in the 16th century. Its grounds include buildings built as early as the 14th century, and its “newest” structures date to the 18th century. The 1547 courtyard is overlooked by Italianate galleries and two lovely towers. You’ll savor the local flavor in the hotel’s renowned restaurant, whose wine list boasts 50 regional wines. The Hotel Le Cep is one of the “Small Luxury Hotels of the World” and has again been included in the 500 best hotels list from Travel + Leisure for 2013, demonstrating its excellence in quality.
Free WiFi Included

Millennium Hotel Paris Opera

The Millennium Opera Paris combines the elegance and splendor of the 1920s with modern, comfortable amenities. In addition to a restaurant, the Millennium Hotel Paris Opera offers a lounge bar where guests can enjoy snacks and drinks by the fireplace and cocktails in the evenings, all with the background of music from the grand piano. Room service is available around the clock. Multilingual staff on the 24-hour front desk can recommend places to visit and provide concierge services, including theater and opera reservations and transportation arrangements. Wireless Internet access covers all public areas of the hotel and guest rooms. The hotel features 163 air-conditioned guest rooms with traditional décor in light colors, and includes period-style wood furniture with green leather-topped writing desks. All rooms offer satellite television, pay movies, safe, trouser press, minibar and coffee/tea-making facilities. En-suite bathrooms include hair dryers. The full-sized desks also feature high-speed Internet connections.
Free WiFi Included

Hotel le Rempart

Past and present converge at the Hotel Le Rempart, a 4-star, family-run establishment built on medieval ramparts and set on the site of a 15th-century guardhouse. Inside, find an elegant, modern ambiance and a focus on the cuisine for which Lyon is famous. In the restaurant, enjoy a creative menu based on fresh local produce, or dine in the bistro, whose menu is also served on the delightful Romanesque patio in warm weather.
Free WiFi Included

Hotel Charlemagne

The Hotel Charlemagne is located at the confluence of the Rhône and the Saône rivers, on an island just south of the Lyon’s historic center but still within walking distance of all the major sites. Enjoy delicious cuisine in the hotel’s restaurant, lounge and snack bar. Each of the 116 rooms features air conditioning, LCD TV, Internet access and direct-dial telephone.
Free WiFi Included

Grand Hotel de la Cloche

In the heart of the capital of Burgundy, this hotel is conveniently located near the Old Town and a number of attractions, including museums and the Ducal Palace. This historic hotel was built in 1884 and is listed as a heritage building. Delightful gourmet French and international cuisine are available at its two restaurants. Its amenities include a fitness center, and a golf course is available for use close to the hotel.
Free WiFi Included
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