Three stops to make on a Burgundy boating holiday

Thursday, 1 March 2012 4:14 PM

If you want to experience France at its most authentic, you can't go wrong by booking a Burgundy canal boat and meandering through the Franche-Comte region. Known for its world-famous vineyards and natural beauty, Burgundy also has plenty more to offer travellers, whether you're staying for a couple of weeks or just a few days.

You can enjoy picturesque cruising along the Rivers Saone and Seille, which are perfect spots for nature fans and fishermen alike. As you traverse the waterways, expect to pass rolling pastures, waterfalls, mountains and pine forests, making the region truly idyllic and ideal for a peaceful break.

If you haven't long to spend in Burgundy, make sure you visit some of the most popular parts of the region during your getaway. If you can't decide which places are true must-visits, read on.

The first stop worth making on a boating holiday in the area is at Dijon, the capital of the region. Once you've made your way along the Canal de Bourgogne through verdant countryside, you'll arrive at one of the most attractive cities in provincial France.

An elegant and chic settlement, Dijon is a cultural hotspot renowned as the birthplace of Dijon mustard. As you explore the area, you'll come across medieval and Renaissance buildings, as well as more modern landmarks.

To make the most of your visit, book a sightseeing excursion and you'll be able to admire the elegant church of Notre-Dame - which is a fine example of Burgundian Gothic style - as well as the old streets lined with half-timbered houses and the medieval sculpture known as the Well of Moses.

In the centre of Dijon is the Place Francois Rude, which is full of bustling cafes and bars that surround a pretty central fountain. From here, you can make your way to the Philippe le Bon Tower and climb the 315 steps to the top for superb views over the city's medieval quarter.

There are plenty of museums and galleries to visit, including the Musee des Beaux-Arts - where you can view collections that date between the Egyptian era to the 20th century. It's worth taking a wine tour too, during which you can visit various cellars and chateaux, as well as sample the locally-produced tipple. Before you leave, pick up a couple of jars of Dijon mustard, which is sold in pretty ceramic pots at speciality shops.

Another top spot worth stopping at during a France boating holiday in Burgundy is Louhans - a town full of character. Located in eastern France, the settlement is well-known for its bustling market, which has been held since medieval times. The large, colourful market takes place on a Monday morning throughout the high street, which is comprised of 157 arches and arcades that date back to the 11th century.

Special Bresse poultry is sold here, along with other livestock like pigs, goats and even horses, making it a real sight to behold! This is the main section of the market; not too far away is another part where you can pick up vegetables and fruit, and if you're feeling peckish you might want to visit a nearby restaurant to try the local specialities, such as corniottes - sweet pastries - and la tete de veau, which is head of veal. Another part of the market sells clothes, shoes, handbags and accessories at low prices - perfect if you want to update your wardrobe.

The third stop you should make if you're looking for things to do in Europe is at Gray - a major town on the Petite Saone. The settlement has a long history, having been razed by fire twice during the Middle Ages. Afterwards, it was rebuilt and became a bustling commercial and industrial centre by the 17th century.

Gray reached its highest levels of prosperity in the 19th century when trade on the Saone was strong. Now, that industry has vanished, and so the town has become a peaceful haven popular with tourists.

There's plenty to see if you venture on to land here, including an array of well-preserved old buildings like the antique church and the restored theatre. It's well worth paying a visit to the fortified chateau of Baron St Martin too, as not only is the building aesthetically pleasing, it also houses an art gallery and museum. Call in at the local science museum and take a dip in the river at La Plage with the locals.

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