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Burgundy, France

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Burgundy Fields

Burgundy Fields

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Burgundy Town

Burgundy Town

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Burgundy, France

L'Hospice de Beaune

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Producing a rarefied concentration of what many consider the world's greatest wines and harboring a sigh-worthy collection of magnificent Romanesque abbeys, Burgundy hardly needs to be beautiful—but it is. Its green-hedgerowed countryside, medieval villages, and stellar vineyards deserve to be rolled on the palate and savored. Like glasses filled with Clos de Vougeot, the sights here—from the stately city of Dijon to the medieval sanctuaries of Sens, Auxerre, Vézelay, and Cluny—invite us to tarry and partake of their mellow splendor.Although you may often fall under the influence of extraordinary wine during a sojourn in Burgundy—called Bourgogne by the French—the beauty surrounding you is no boozy illusion. Passed over by revolutions, left unscarred by world wars, and relatively inaccessible thanks to circuitous country roads, the region still reflects the lovely pastoral prosperity it enjoyed under the Capetian kings. Those were the glory days, when self-sufficient Burgundy held its own against the creeping spread of France and the mighty Holy Roman Empire. This grand period was characterized by the expanding role of the dukes of Bourgogne. Consider these Capetians, history-book celebrities all: there was Philippe le Hardi (the Bold), with his power-brokered marriage to Marguerite of Flanders. There was Jean sans Peur (the Fearless), who murdered Louis d'Orléans in a cloak-and-dagger affair in 1407 and was in turn murdered, in 1419. And then there was Philippe le Bon (the Good), who threw in with the English against Joan of Arc.Yet the Capetians couldn't hold a candle to the great Abbaye de Cluny: founded in 910, it grew to such overweening ecclesiastical power that it dominated the European Church on a papal scale for some four centuries. It was Urban II himself who dubbed it "la Lumière du Monde" ("the Light of the World"). But the stark geometry of Burgundy's Cistercian abbeys, such as Clairvaux and Cîteaux, stands in silent rebuke to Cluny's excess. The basilicas at Autun and Vézelay remain today in all their noble simplicity, yet manifest some of the finest Romanesque sculpture ever created; the tympanum at Autun rejects all time frames in its visionary daring.It's almost unfair to the rest of France that all this history, all this art, all this natural beauty comes with delicious refreshments. As if to live up to the extraordinary quality of its Chablis, its Chassagne-Montrachet, its Nuits-St-Georges, its Gevrey-Chambertin, Burgundy flaunts some of the best plain food in the world. Once you taste a licensed and diploma'd poulet de Bresse (Bresse chicken) embellished by the poetry of one perfect glass of Burgundian Pinot Noir, you won't be surprised to see that food and drink entries will take up as much space in your travel diary as the sights you see.

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Things You Can't Miss

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Eat Well, Drink Better at Côte d’Or Vineyards
Eat Well, Drink Better at Côte d’Or Vineyards

Vineyards large and small stretch between Dijon and Saone. Take a minibus tour or bike between them in dedicated bike lanes (reserve ahead).

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Image Credit

Chris Cheadle/All Canada Photos/Corbis

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Saint-Marie-Madeleine Vézelay
Saint-Marie-Madeleine Vézelay

This medieval hilltop village and basilica were a focal point for pilgrims, who came to see the relics of St. Mary Magdalene on their way to Spain during the Crusades.

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Image Credit

Hemis/Corbis

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Catch the Excitement of the Tour de France
Catch the Excitement of the Tour de France

The French bicycle industry is based here, and the city often hosts one stage of the famous three-week, 2,200-mile Tour de France.

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Image Credit

Tim De Waele/Corbis

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Got a Long Flight? Prepare for Takeoff

Preparing for a long-haul flight? See what nutritious foods you need to help avoid jet lag.

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Cruise the Narrow Canals and Rivers
Cruise the Narrow Canals and Rivers

Several companies organize trips on small, luxuriously outfitted barges for a week of leisurely touring. Or, you can actually captain one yourself.

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Hemis/Corbis

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7 Safety Tips for Traveling Alone

Traveling solo? Follow these safety tips when going places on your own.

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Visit the WWII Resistance Museum
Visit the WWII Resistance Museum

The heavily wooded Morvan Forest was the ideal place for resistance fighters to hide during the Nazi occupation of France.

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Photononstop/Getty Images

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7 Travel Essentials

Find out why Samantha Brown recommends traveling with melatonin, comfy socks and other necessities.

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