Burgundy is one of the largest regions of France and covers four departments l'Yonne, Nievre, Cote d'Or and Saone et Loire.
Burgundy is also a rich region historically, cuturally, gastronomically and economically with each department having something different to offer visitors.
Once Burgundy was France's most powerful rival with territory extending well beyond its present boundaries.
For today's visitor there is something for everyone, centres of medieval religious faith at Vézelay, Fontenay and Cluny, the massive Morvan National Regional Park that covers all four departments, and Dijon, the capital of Burgundy as well as the Cote d'Or with its wealth of art and splendid grat palaces relating to the old Burgundian nobility, to name but a few.
When travelling south to Burgundy l'Yonne is the first department you encounter, with Sens the northernmost town.
The Cathédrale St-Etienne was begun in the early 12th century and in 1234 Louis 14th honoured the town by marrying there. The exquisite stained glass windows dated between 12th and 16th centuries show scenes which include the Tree of Jesse and a tribute to Thomas à Becket.
La Puisaye is an area of watery valleys, woodlands, orchards and meadows found nowhere else in Burgundy. St-Sauveur and St-Amand are famous for their pottery and here you will find over 40 potteries each individual in its style. Nearby Chateau de St-Fargeau is a renovated chateau which has firework displays and entertainment throughout the summer and the same renovator is masterminding the building of a 13th century chateau at Guedelon using authentic materials and methods; visitors are welcome and there are exhibitions of 13th century building practices.
Auxerre is the capital of l'Yonne and overlooks the Yonne river.The Cathédrale St-Etienne took 300 years to build and finished in 1560. St Germanus, mentor to St Patrick and Bishop of Auxerre in 5th century was buried at the former abbey church of St Germain founded by Queen Clothilde, wife of the first Christian king of France, Clovis.
Chablis is known to everyone as one of the most famous wine growing villages on earth. Saint Vincent, the patron ssaint of wine growers, is celebrated each February by processions attended by the wine brotherhood of Piliers Chablisiens.
Tonnerre is famous for the Fosse Dionne . An ancient spring which bursts up to an 18th century washing place and at one time was the only source of water for the town. Due to its immense depth it has never been thoroughly explored and legend has it a serpent lives at the bottom!
The beautiful old fortified town of Avallon is situated high above the river Cousin, which can be viewed by a walk around the ramparts. After suffering at the hands of wars against the Saracens, Normans, English and French, today Avallon is a quiet and beautiful town. Nearby for pottery lovers is the village of Island and the pottery alone is worth the visit!
Follow the footsteps of medieval pilgrims to the top of Vézelay's main street to the Basilique Ste-Madeleine. In the 12th century the abbey claimed to house the relics of Mary Magdelene and was one of the starting points on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
This year the village of Saint-Léger-Vauban will be celebrating the death of Maréchal Vauban along with other towns and villages throughout Burgundy. Details of these celebrations can been seen on this post about Vauban's life.
- by Coral Luke
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