Many visitors to France never get to see the real France – La France Profonde, the French countryside of farms, villages, waterways, rolling hills, and other hidden gems. Don’t let that happen to you! When you come to France, make sure you see South Burgundy. You will not be disappointed!
In a single day you can visit a 1000 year old church, buy produce from a farmer, stroll in the gardens of a Château and top it all off with dinner and a great bottle of local wine. Does a holiday get any better than that?
After a visit to Southern Burgundy you will only be enticed to discover more. From the rolling hills of the Côte Chalonnaise to the flats of the Bresse Bourguignonne. From small villages to the towns of Chalon-sur-Saône, Mâcon and Tournus, many pass through Southern Burgundy on their way to the South of France or the French Alps without ever knowing what they missed.
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Best known for its wines South Burgundy offers visitors a range of other opportunities. Easily accessed from Paris via TGV – high speed train in less than 1.5 hours. For those driving, Southern Burgundy is on the A6 Autoroute that runs between Paris and Lyon. Once in Southern Burgundy, your visit can last from a day of wine tasting to a week of country life. From village markets to the industrial history of Le Creusot and its nearby coal mines.
If you’re boating Southern Burgundy is linked by the Saône River and Canal du Centre. Chalon-sur-Saône, Mâcon and Tournus are on the Saône River and popular day stops for cruise boats. Chalon-sur-Saône is Southern Burgundy’s largest town and home to the Musée Nicéphore Niépce. This photography museum named, after Nicéphore Niépce offers free admission. Nicéphore Niépce is believed to have taken the world’s first photo in nearby Saint-Loup-de-Varennes. Mâcon gives its name to the up-and-coming wine region – Le Mâconnais. In Mâcon you can stroll its cobblestone streets and dine in La Maison de Bois. Mâcon’s oldest building dating from 1510. In Tournus you’ll discover Saint-Philibert Abbey and its church, the crown jewel of local Romanesque churches. This almost 1,000 year old church towers over Touruns and can be seem from miles around.
No matter how you travel, be it by car, foot or bike you can’t help, but be taken in by the charming villages and farming countryside. Of course there are vineyards also, but at its heart Southern Burgundy is farming country and home to some of the finest beef cattle in the world – Charolais. Southern Burgundy is also home to the only AOC poultry in the world – Poulet de Bresse. This specialty chicken can only be raised and bred in the Bresse region.
Southern Burgundy is also home to a number of Roman ruins. The best location being the town of Autun. In Autun, known as Augustodunum during the Roman Roman era, you’ll find what was the largest amphitheater in Gaul. It could hold over 20,000 spectators on three levels. You can also enjoy Porte St-André and Porte d’Arroux, two of the original Roman gates to the city. Autun is where for a short time Napoleon went to school. The now Lycée Bonaparte was attended by Napoleon in 1779, just before he went to military school in Brienne.
If you’re looking for more recent history, Allerey-sur-Saône was home to an American Army hospital camp – Le Camp Américain d’Allerey and then an agriculture school near the end of WWI. During WWII no less than four allied airplanes crashed in Southern Burgundy. Three in the villages of La Chapelle-Thècle, Montcony and Savigny-en-Revermont were British planes and one in Plottes was an American plane. There was also a small battle in Sennecey-le-Grand during WWII and the French resistance was very active in the area.
To book a suitable hotel or other accommodation in Chalons-sur-Saône, you can use the map below, which shows current prices for hotels and apartments. To book further afield, then just enlarge the map (+/-) to see more properties or if you have somewhere particular in mind, enter your preferred city/town/village in the ‘Where are you going?’ box.
France and in particular Burgundy is not expensive – expect to pay much the same as, or even less, than you would elsewhere and certainly much less than in nearby Switzerland for example. Admission to sites of interest is often surprisingly cheap and eating out, while not exactly inexpensive, is normally very good value for money.
Of course the traveller mayfind that the larger towns such as Chalon-sur-Saône, Mâcon and Tournus can be a little pricey especially for eating out but, if you are prepared to shop around a little, you will find something to suit your pocket.
What you can expect is value for money wherever you go. For food shopping try the local outdoor market, held daily in the cities and weekly in small towns and villages. These are not necessarily cheaper than shops but the produce is guaranteed to be local and fresh.
For really low prices on a whole range of goods try the local Hypermarché. These are huge retail outlets, usually to be found on the outskirts of town, which sell everything from food to clothes. Hypermarchés to look out for are Carrefour, Leclerc, Auchan, Intermarché Hyper and Géant Casino.
Prices often fluctuate dynamically depending on capacity, seasonality and deals. We don’t want to lead you astray by quoting exact prices that quickly become wrong. To give you a rough idea for budgetary planning purposes, though, we have indicated general price ranges for all points of interest.
Price ranges are quoted in €.
See & Do
N/A => Not applicable
€ => Tickets less than €15 per person
€€ => Tickets €15- €30 per person
€€€ => Tickets €30 per person
Sleep — Out of town/rural
€ => Rooms less than €60 for a double
€€ => Rooms €60 – €100 for a double
€€€ => Rooms €100 for a double
Sleep — Large Cities
€ => Rooms less than €100 for a double
€€ => Rooms €100 – €150 for a double
€€€ => Rooms €150 for a double
€=> €5- €10 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
€€ => €10 – €25 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
€€€ => €25 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
N/A => Not applicable
€ => Tickets less than €25 per person
€€ => Tickets €25 – €50 per person
€€€ => Tickets €50 per person
Fly the Friendly Skies
Airfares are a fickle thing. When you need it to be low, it’s high. And when prices dip, what happens? You can’t get off work to travel. Sigh.
But you can get notifications from companies like Kayak, which will email you when airfares drop. Type your destination and the dates you are watching and boom, when there’s a deal, you’ll hear about it immediately via your inbox.
Sites like Momondo also display prices for multiple airlines, so you can compare rates without visiting individual airline sites.
That said, there is an advantage to visiting an individual airline’s site. Why? Because some of their really great deals don’t show up on the aggregator airfare sites. Most airlines share limited-time, super-specials via their Facebook pages or email blasts. So it pays to be their ‘friend’ or subscribe to their e-mailings. European operators such as easyJet, Ryanair, Air France-KLM, Jet2, British Airways, flybe and Lufthansa offer an extensive range of routes in Europe.
Have Car, Will Travel
Like airlines, car rental rates are all over the map. Companies like Expedia and Hotwire offer comparison price shopping.
Zipcar is another choice for rentals. Available in many major cities and college towns in the U.S., Zipcar is a great alternative for super-short term rentals. Picture this scenario: you are in a big city with terrific public transport, so you don’t need a car. But then you hear about an amazing restaurant 20 miles away in the suburbs. You can’t go home without trying it. A taxi would cost a fortune. You’d have to wait a long time to get a return taxi. Download the Zipcar app; search for a nearby Zipcar locale. Memberships cost about €8/£6 a month; rentals are about €8-13.50/£6-10 per hour; fuel and insurance are included.
Ride-sharing companies, such as Uber, are also ubiquitous in major cities. Through a smart phone app, you can line up rides all over town. It’s convenient because no money changes hands (payment is made through the app) and it’s usually cheaper than a taxi. Another bonus? After requesting a ride, you can see where the driver is on a map, so you know that they are on their way and how long it will be. Try that with a cab.
All the major car rental companies such as Avis, Sixt, Hertz and Europcar operate throughout Europe. It is not normally possible to rent in the UK and take the vehicle to mainland Europe or vice versa.
Hopefully, your trip to (or within) Europe goes without a glitch. But what if an unexpected situation arises? Will you lose the money you invested in the trip? Will you need quick cash to cover sudden costs?
Travel insurance policies are meant to cover these unexpected costs and assist you when problems arise. The fee is typically based on the cost of the trip and the age of the traveler.
Most travel insurance providers offer comprehensive coverage that usually includes protection for the following common events:
Trip Cancellation — About 40 percent of all claims fall in this category.
Medical — Travellers within Europe from European Union member states should obtain an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) card which entitles them to healthcare on the same terms as citizens from the country they are visiting. This is a reciprocal agreement which means for example that EEA visitors to the UK will receive free care in NHS hospitals in the same way that UK residents do. Some countries e.g. France make a charge known as a patient contribution for GP visits or stays in hospital for both their own citizens and visitors from the EEA. Even so, travellers are well advised to have additional medical insurance to cover for example the cost of repatriation, mountain rescue in ski resorts and other emergencies.
For travellers from outside the European Union the cost of health services in Europe, while not as high as in the US for example, can be relatively expensive for the uninsured. For this reason it is essential to consider purchasing medical insurance. If you have a Health Care Plan back home it may cover you for most situations which arise abroad but you need to check this out and in any case additional medical travel insurance will cover you for private health care or other expenses.
Some countries outside the European Union have a reciprocal agreement for healthcare with certain European countries. For example Switzerland has an agreement with all European Union countries and Australia has agreements with the UK, the Netherlands, Italy and others. It pays to check before leaving home.
Trip Interruption — For example, if you become ill during your trip or if someone at home gets sick, and you have to get off the cruise ship or abandon a tour. The insurer will often pay up to 150% of the cost of your trip to get you home.
Travel Delay — Insurance usually covers incidentals like meals and overnight lodging while you wait to travel home.
Baggage — Insurance will typically cover lost and mishandled baggage.
Some insurance companies allow you to purchase a policy that allows you to cancel for any reason. This may cost more (often 10% or more), but it is worthwhile for certain travellers.
Do I need travel insurance?
If your trip is expensive it’s essential and even if it isn’t it’s certainly a good idea. Your age and health are important factors. Your English or other European language skills are also crucial because insurance policies often include concierge services with 24-hour hotlines that can connect you quickly with someone who speaks your language.
How do I choose an insurance provider?
Do your homework — check around.
The largest insurers in the U.S. include Travel Guard, Allianz and CSA Travel Protection. Smaller reputable companies include Berkley, Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, Travel Insured International and Travelex. You may also find deals through aggregates like Squaremouth and InsureMyTrip.
Many airlines and travel companies also offer travel insurance when you book your flight (often contracted with the above major players).
In Europe the largest insurers are Allianz, Axa and Zurich but there are many smaller providers such as insureandgo and Direct Line.
Pre-existing health conditions — Many policies have exclusion policies if you have a pre-existing medical condition or charge an additional premium related to the condition. Some companies also offer waivers that overwrite the exclusion if you purchase the policy within a certain time frame of paying for your trip (e.g., within 24 hours of buying your cruise package). Again, it’s best to check the fine print.
Credit card insurance — If you buy your airfare or trip with a credit card, you may be partially covered by the credit card’s issuing bank. Check directly with the company to find out exactly what’s covered, as many have “stripped down” coverage and restrictions.
The currency of France is the Euro which is currently used in 25 countries a few of which are not even EU members. Some countries within the European Union have retained their original currency including the UK (Pound), Denmark (Kroner) and Poland (Zloty). Most non-EU countries such as Switzerland (Swiss Franc) and Turkey (Lira) continue to use their own currency. All are decimalised and have 100 ‘pennies’ in each main unit.
Euros come in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500 notes. They vary in size, from 120mm x 62mm (€5) to 160mm x 82mm (500), and colour, so it is easy to differentiate between them. All feature European architecture throughout the ages. (Smaller businesses may not accept the larger notes, so plan to have €20s or smaller notes in hand)
There are eight denominations of euro coin: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent plus a €1 and €2 coin. All have a common side and a national side. Remember to spend all coins before you leave – they can’t be exchanged!
Many travellers like to have a small amount of local currency when they arrive in a country but this is becoming less and less important as ATMs and Bureaux de Change appear everywhere especially in transport terminals.
The good news for travellers in Europe is that you don’t need to get stressed about tipping – you don’t have to do it and when you do it really should reflect good or excellent service rather than be something you are expected to do. On the whole workers in tourism are reasonably well paid and don’t depend upon tips to make up their wages. In some cases over-tipping can be embarrassing for all concerned.
Many restaurants include a ‘service’ charge in the price so check and, if it isn’t mentioned, then a tip of between 5 – 10% is quite enough. Even where it is included but you feel that you’ve had really excellent service then the same amount is adequate but ensure that your server receives this by handing it directly to them.
Other methods are to add a euro/pound for each member of the party or round up the bill to the nearest 5 or 10 euros.
In the UK many restaurants add an ‘optional’ amount to the bill when you are paying with plastic, but in many cases the servers don’t receive any of this and it simply becomes an extra profit for the owner. The server won’t mind if you decline to do this!
With taxis, just round up to the next euro or pound for a short journey or, for a long ride, to the nearest ten. Again 10% is the maximum you should consider unless of course the driver carries your bags into the hotel or airport when a little more will be appreciated.
You may wish to give the porter a euro for each bag he carries but, while it will be appreciated, it is not normally expected. Similarly you may wish to leave a small tip for the housekeeping staff, especially if they have been particularly helpful, but this is completely up to you.