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Regions of France - Burgundy

Norman abbeys, châteaux with glazed rooves, ducal towns and charming villages make Burgundy a historic region with a glorious heritage.

Until the late 18th century Burgundy was not part of France, but a Dukedom with the powerful and long reigning Burgundy Dukes. One time allies to the English kings against the French king, Burgundy rivalled in power and prestige with the kingdom of France itself. In the Middle Ages, it covered a large part of central eastern France, including half of modern-day Switzerland.

Today, Burgundy is one of the administrative regions of France, lying across the main lines of communication between Paris and Lyon. The region is bordered by the river Loire, in the west, and by the Franche-Comté and Champagne regions in the east. To the south it is bordered by the Rhone Alpes region.

The Burgundy region is made up of four French departments. Northern Burgundy comprises the department of the Yonne (89), capital Auxerre, a rolling agricultural area bordering on the outer fringes of the Paris region. In the west, the Nièvre (58), capital Nevers, is a hilly department that includes the highest peak of the Morvan hills (Le Haut Folin, 903 m), and a large part of the Morvan regional nature park.

The Côte-d'Or department (21), around Dijon, is hilly in the north west, and flat in the south east; finally the department of Saône & Loire (71) in the south of the region stretches from the banks of the Loire in the west to the foothills of the Jura in the east, and includes large flat expanses of the Saône valley.

The historic and modern capital of the Burgundy region is Dijon (population 150,000), a thriving administrative and cultural centre, which is also a major communications and freight-distribution hub. The city is less than two hours from Paris by direct TGV high-speed train service. Dijon has a historic city centre, with old narrow streets, and houses built in the local pale honey-coloured stone; of particular interest to visitors are the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, and the gothic Cathedral of Saint Bénigne.

Wine is one of the pillars and pride of Burgundy, with some of the most famous wines in the world coming from the concentrated vineyards The Romans introduced grapes and the production was mastered by the local monks. Today, burgundy wines such as Gevrey-Chambertin, Pommard, Romanee-Conti or Montrachet are sought after around the world.