Burgundy's long and proud history stretches far back in time. The richness and sheer variety of its heritage are proof of this. From Gallic vestiges to Romanesque clock towers, artistic treasures and splendid châteaux, an industrial legacy and creations of the future, there are all sorts of things to discover.
From prehistoric hunters to the Gauls and Romans
Given its location, Burgundy played an important role in the Celtic era. It was the scene of the most important turning-points during the conquest of Gaul. The treasures of the Lady of Vix, the shrines where the Seine springs forth and fortifications in Bibracte show the full breadth of its glory for over two millennia. Long before the first Celts, Solutrean hunters achieved technical prowess, producing Volgu blades from flint and some of the oldest paintings known to humankind, in the caves in Arcy-sur-Cure.
Following in the footsteps of monks and dukes
The two greatest monastic movements of the Middles Ages were born in Burgundy. Cluny, and later Cîteaux, was among the greatest spiritual, intellectual, artistic and even political centres in Europe from the 10th to 12th centuries. In Vézelay, Paray-le-Monial, Fontenay and La Charité-sur-Loire, majestic edifices illustrate this glory. And monks also deserve thanks for the many wonderful Burgundy wines, including the famous Clos de Vougeot.
From the 13th century, the Capetian dukes of Burgundy had set up a robust principality, with Dijon and Beaune as their capitals and a generous sprinkling of forts. They were succeeded by the Valois, otherwise known as the "Grand Dukes", who turned it into a political entity from the original duchy right up to the North Sea, straddling the kingdom of France and the Holy Roman Empire. Admire the splendours of the princely palaces in Germolles, the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon and Hôtel-Dieu in Beaune, the might of the Chastellux fortresses in Semur-en-Brionnais and Talmay.
Château splendours and literary glory
Some are sumptuous, some more rustic: residential châteaux set in woodlands remind us of the strong, yet distant, relations Burgundy kept up with French kings in the Ancien Régime (i.e. before the Revolution). Historic cities feature many fine town houses built by rich masters. Famous personalities such as Vauban, Buffon, Madame de Sévigné, Lamartine, Romain Rolland, Colette and Jules Roy will guide you through a region that has inspired so many writers.
In this Burgundy, proud of its rural roots, museums and reconstitutions allow you to find out how farmers and wine-growers, millers and craftsmen used to live.
Blessed with mineral resources, rivers and its geographical position, the region where photography was invented by the genius Nicéphore Niépce has long boasted an industrial tradition. Forges and quarries, mines and Eco-museums welcome you into their world, from the banks of the Yonne through to the Lyon region. Creative flair finds a home in Burgundy with the Technopole de Magny-Cours and the Fabuloserie in Dicy, the SEB pressure cooker, Tolix stainless steel furniture and many centres of contemporary art throughout Burgundy, to name only the most well-known.