Departure point Chalon-sur-Saône 294 km
Suitability for duo
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© Michelin - Extract from '90 motorbike tours in France 2011'
The Mâconnais is certainly an appealing destination for wine lovers. It also offers many other attractions in the form of art and architecture, varied scenery and, of course, gastronomy!
Chalon-sur-Saône > Cluny
The Mâconnais is a famous wine-growing area in the Saône-et-Loire department of southern Burgundy, marking the transition between northern and southern France. It offers an attractive patchwork of landscapes: low mountains (the Monts du Mâconnais), hilltop forests, dry moorland banks, green meadows in dewy valleys, vine-covered slopes, villages nestling in leafy settings ...The selected route for exploring this region runs through the Mâconnais and the nearby Côte Chalonnaise, taking you from the steep slate roofs of the north to the flatter Mediterranean-style roofs with round Provençal tiles of the Mâconnais.
Leave Chalon-sur-Saône and head south to Varennes-le-Grand where you take the D6 road towards Buisson-Roncin and Messey-sur-Grosne: a straight, easy road running first through a forest then peaceful farmland in the Grosne valley. Once past Santilly, you can either carry straight on towards Cormatin or take a short detour via the attractive medieval town of St-Gengoux-le-National, ideal for a gentle stroll and some food shopping. The Cormatin road and, to the north, the Chapaize road both run through a series of villages with Romanesque churches which are all worth a good look.
Be sure to stop and tour the château of Cormatin with its sumptuous, polychrome décor. After this, the D14 road will soon bring you to within sight of the tower of the Romanesque church at Chapaize, whose sober, simple architecture forms a striking contrast to that of the château of Cormatin. Ride straight through Chapaize as far as the D215 junction then turn right for Collonge. The road climbs up to the Col des Chèvres, your first encounter with the Monts du Mâconnais. The road drops back down in its way to Tournus. On the Avenue Vitrier, turn right on the D14 towards Brancion.
A few kilometres past this little town, standing on a ridge surrounded by wooded hills (and well worth a visit), don't miss the turning for Prayes, the Col de la Pistole and Mont-Saint-Romain (highest point 579m). The lovely road to Cluny winds its way through vineyards and rolling countryside. All that remains of the famous Benedictine abbey of Cluny, once home to the largest church in Christendom, are ruins ... but magnificent ruins! Don't miss the old Abbey storeroom with fine vaulted ceiling and 300 different local wines!
Cluny > La Rochepot
Leave Cluny on the D980 towards Mâcon, shortly afterwards take the D22 to Ste-Cécile then follow directions to Curtil-sous-Buffières and St-Bonnet-de-Joux. Halfway along you can stop at the butte de Suin and climb to the viewpoint diagram to enjoy the superb panoramic views of the Saône valley and Charolais area.
After St-Bonnet, head for St-Martin-de-Salencey, then Sailly. On the D980 road, turn left towards Montceau-les-Mines. About twenty kilometres further on, turn off towards Mont-St-Vincent, which also affords panoramic views and varied scenery. Carry on to Croix-Brousseau and Genouilly. About 2 km north of this village, turn left towards St-Micaud then, further on, right towards St-Martin d'Auxy. At a place called Les Maison-Rouges, ride to Ste-Hélène, then towards Villeneuve-en-Montagne before turning right to L'Abergement, St-Jean-de-Vaux and St-Mard-de-Vaux. Carry on as far as St-Bérain-sur-Dheune. Ride north along the D974, between the river Dheune and the Canal du Centre, as far as St-Léger-sur-Dheune.
On the D109 via Aluze, go to Remigny and Santenay, then Dezize-les-Maranges and the Mont de Sène (rather narrow road to the top). The viewpoint (belvédère) has fine panoramic views: to the north, beyond La Rochepot, the Côte with its vineyards; to the east, the Saône valley, Jura and Alps; to the south the Cluny area dominated by the Mont St-Vincent; to the west the hilly mass of the Morvan. In Nolay, yet another charming medieval town with half-timbered houses, follow directions for Cormot-le-Grand and Vauchignon.
As you leave Vauchignon, turn left towards the little Tournée valley and the Cirque du Bout du Monde. What a sight! Majestic limestone cliffs and a 40 metre high waterfall. Leave your bike in the car park and walk to the cave 9on the left0 or the waterfall 9on the right). Return via Vauchignon and Bel-Air to La Rochepot.
La Rochepot > Chalon-sur-Saône
La Rochepot, in the Côte-d'Or department, stands on the edge of the most famous vineyards in the Beaune area. Before leaving the town, take time to tour the château, set amidst trees at the top of a fairytale rocky hill called the Roche-Nolay. The oldest parts were built in the 13th century and its style is completely different to that of Cormatin. Be sure to see the kitchens with their striking stoves and copper pans.
Afterwards, head for the vineyards by way of Orches, St-Romain and Pommard on the D17 road. Once past Orches, pull in, dismount and enjoy the gorgeous view over St-Romain, Auxey, Meursault and the Saône valley. After this, all along the road to Pommard, you can see the very famous vineyards and visit their wine cellars – without overdoing the wine tasting, of course, or forgetting where you left your bike, but making sure you keep an note of names and addresses – until you get to Beaune, a world-renowned wine capital which also boasts some very beautiful buildings. Its town hall, church of Notre-Dame, 'hospices' (old hospital/poorhouse) and ramparts – whose bastions house some of the best known wine cellars in the region – its gardens and old houses form one of the loveliest urban centres in the whole of Burgundy. Afterwards, ride quietly back to Chalon-sur-Saône on the D19 road via Demigny.