Departure point Dijon 412 km
Suitability for duo
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© Michelin - extract from '90 motorbike tours in France 2011'
At the heart of Burgundy are found the geological origins of the historic river Seine and of Gaul. This land of the Dukes of Burgundy is also a place of spirituality, home of two great Monastic orders, a land of heritage, nourishing, emblematic of great wines and good food ... In short, it's biker country!
Dijon > Châtillon-sur-Seine
You are sure to enjoy the rich heritage and intense cultural activity of this vibrant university city and capital of the Burgundy region. If you just want to stroll around the loveliest streets in Dijon, follow the Chouette trail (little owl symbols on pavement). If you can't spend all day there, try at least to see two major sights: the tombs of the Dukes of Burgundy and Grand Dukes of the West, in the Fine Art museum; the 'Puits de Moïse', a superb example of Gothic art, in the grounds of the charterhouse (medieval monastery) at Champol, used as a psychiatric hospital since 1843. Leave Dijon on the N5 going towards A38 motorway. In Talant, in the city suburbs, turn onto the D10 road before crossing the river Ouche.
When you get to Neuvon railway station turn right to stay on the D10 and follow directions to Dijon-Prenois racing circuit, venue for the annual Coupes Moto Légende, a European vintage motorbike event and magnet for collectors. After this, ride round the forest of Pasques and follow the course of the river Suzon, along pleasant country roads, as far as Messigny-et-Vantoux.
Ride on up to Saussey, then 15 great kilometres of narrow winding road as far as Moloy. After this, take the D901 across country, via Aignay-le-Duc (interesting 13th century Gothic church), then the D971 as far as Châtillon-sur-Seine. As you stroll around the old part of this pretty little town, it's hard to imagine that it holds within its walls one of the most extraordinary archaeological finds: the Vix treasure from a princely Celtic tomb discovered in the old settlement (oppidum) on nearby Mont Lassois. Those who prefer the great outdoors may prefer to come here in winter to see the fast flowing vauclusian spring of La Douix, a tributary of the Seine.
Châtillon-sur-Seine > Dijon
Leave Châtillon-sur-Seine on the long straight D980 road towards Montbard. At Coulmier-le-Sec, turn left to Villaines-en-Duesmois, then right to Touillon and straight on to Fontenay abbey. Tucked away in a remote and leafy valley, this second daughter-house of Clairvaux is a superbly well-preserved example of a 12th century Cistercian monastery: a group of Romanesque buildings within a walled enclosure, a sober and harmonious whole. The abbey became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1981.
The rest of this route takes you on different country roads linking the many tourist sights between Montbard and Dijon. Opposite the village of Bussy-le-Grand stands the château of Bussy-Rabutin where you can hear the incredible story of Roger de Rabutin, Count of Bussy (1618-1693), officer under King Louis XIV, libertine and provocative man of letters, whose free speech caused him many problems. The interior of the château is richly decorated with remarkable portrait galleries and two parts which are essential viewing: the Tour Dorée and the Cabinet des Devises. You can also walk around the park and gardens attributed to Le Nôtre.
A stone's throw from Bussy-Rabutin is Alésia, the archaeological excavation of an old Gallic fortress on the slopes of Mont Auxois in the Alise-Ste-Reine district. After decades of debate, historians and archaeologists are now certain that this was where, in 52 BC, Julius Caesar's Roman troops besieged Gallic forces led by Vercingétorix. The archaeological site of the old Gallo-Roman town at the top of the 100 hectare oppidum is open to the public. From the foot of the colossal bronze statue of Vercingétorix there are panoramic views over the Laumes plain and positions occupied by the Romans during the siege of Alésia.
A little further on stood Caesar's camp, near Flavigny-sur-Ozerain. Clinging to a rock surrounded by three rivers, the historic importance of this village can still be seen in its narrow streets, fortified gates and ruined ramparts. It is also home to delicious little round sweets, filled with aniseed, which have been made in Flavigny abbey since the 16th century.
Head off to Frôlois, via the village de Darcey, then take a short round trip on twisting, turning little roads, through Hauteroche and Thenissey back to Frôlois and its castle. Return to the D6 road and head towards Dijon. After Chanceaux, take the first right turn to the sources of the Seine. They flow through a lovely little valley planted with fir trees, starting in a cave at the feet of the Nymphe de la Seine, copy of statue symbolising the river. Did you know that, since 1864, the site belongs to the city of Paris? See the main source first then take a walk to the Source de la Coquille (round trip of about 1 km) in a lovely glacial cirque, whose height affords fine views over the Châtillonnais. From St-Germain-Source-Seine, head for Salmaise then Vitteaux. Take the wide D905 road towards Dijon: it narrows after the motorway junctions at Sombernon and terminates at Le Pont-de-Pany.
Cross over the A38 (for the third time) and take the D33 along the Canal de Bourgogne, joined at this point by the river Ouche. The road which runs closely alongside the canal is leafy, attractive and well-maintained. Do look out for cyclists. There is an excellent cycle track but it runs along the other side of the canal, crossing the road only once, just after La Bussière-sur-Ouche, before the bridge. Proceed with caution. At Le Pont-d'Ouche, where river and canal join, turn left onto the D18, then take the little D2 road to Savigny-les-Beaune, famous for the quality of its wines. The imposing 14th century castle is home to a large collection of Abarth racing cars and has nearly 80 jet fighter planes parked in the grounds. The second floor of the castle houses a collection of over 250 motorbikes, from the most famous to the most obscure of models, unfortunately displayed without any explanatory information. To return to Dijon you can choose between motorway, main road (via the D974) or country roads described in the road-book, via Gevrey-Chambertin, known and loved by all wine enthusiasts. It's the end of the trip and time to pack your bags...