Bourgogne – Burgundy

Bourgogne is part of Bourgone-Franche-Comté, one of the 13 new regions created by the territorial reform that took effect on January 1, 2016.

Bourgogne Franche Comte map
Bourgogne Franche Comte map

Historic Bourgogne became an administrative region during the 20th century.

It includes 4 departments:

Côte d’Or (21 – Dijon), Nièvre (58 – Nevers), Saône-et-Loire (71 – Mâcon) and Yonne (89 – Auxerre)

Dijon is its administrative center or préfecture.

The other major cities are Chalon-sur-Saône, Nevers, Auxerre, Mâcon, Sens, Le Creusot, Beaune, Montceau-les-Mines and Autun.

Creation of the Kingdom of Bourgogne

The Burgundians left their name to the region.

The Germanic tribe invaded present day French-speaking Switzerland and the south-east of France after the fall of the Roman Empire, in the late 5th century AD.

Bourgogne - Picturesque facade in Beaune
Picturesque facade in Beaune

However, the Franks annexed their territory to the Kingdom of France in 534AD.

It became then known as Regnum Burundi – Kingdom of Burgundy.

The region later became part of Charlemagne’s Holy Roman Empire.

Treaty of Verdun of 843AD divided Charlemagne’s Empire into three kingdoms between his three grandsons.

The Duché de Bourgogne was founded in 880AD.

Dijon was the capital of this feudal fiefdom of the Kingdom of France, which was attached to France in 1477.

It corresponds roughly the current Bourgogne (minus the department of Nièvre).

Geography and economy

The northern and eastern parts of the region consist of vast plains.

The center is a region of limestone plateaus, a region of renowned vineyards.

Vineyard in Bourgogne
Vineyard in Bourgogne

However, it is also a region of forests such as Morvan, an ancient forest massif, today classified as a regional natural park.

The south stretches up to the foothills of the Massif Central; Mâconnais is dedicated to polyculture, breeding and of course wine-making!

60% of the land is devoted to agriculture and specialized in the cultivation of cereals and oil seeds; this sector employs 5% of the population.

Bourgogne is also the second French producer of cattle and is renowned for the the quality of the Charolais meat.

Viticulture has a major place.

The vineyards indeed cover nearly 31,000 hectares of land in the Beaune, Chalon, Mâcon, Chablis and Beaujolais areas.

Bourgogne is sparsely populated.

The bulk of the population is concentrated along the axes of communication – Valley of the Saône from Chalon-sur-Saône to Mâcon and of course in the capital Dijon.

The region is at the confluence of continental, Mediterranean and oceanic climatic zones, but is mostly temperate.

Some of the region’s tourist sites

The region is renowned for its gastronomy, but also for its historical and architectural heritage.

Here are a few:

1- The site of the Battle of Alesia, where Jules Cesar besieged Vercingetorix and his warriors in 52BC.

2- The Abbey of Cluny, which in the 10th century was the largest spiritual and intellectual center of Europe.

3- La Roche de Solutré is a limestone plateau that overlooks Solutré-Pouilly, a town renowned for its Pouilly-Fuissé wine.

This site, inhabited for 55000 years, has unveiled  a wealth of artefacts, that led archaeologists to name an epoch of the Paleolithic after it – Solutrean.

The site’s calcareous soil also promotes the adaptation of a specific flora only found on the plateau.

4- The Photography Museum of Chalon-sur-Saône attracts many tourists.

The city is indeed the hometown of Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, the inventor of photography.

5- Finally, the Morvan and green areas are propitious to eco-tourism.

How to get there?

Bourgogne is in the Rhône-Rhin axis and is therefore traversed by an important road network.

The TGV connects Dijon to Paris, Lausanne, Berne, Montpellier and Marseille.

The LGV Rhine-Rhône connects Dijon to the rest of Europe!

Area:31 582 km21
Population: 641 130 (2012)

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