Road trip itinerary: Burgundy France
The hardest decision when taking any kind of road trip in France is which area to go to. Each part of France, whilst all French, is unique. Regionality is strong in France, so from area to area, region to regions, you’ll notice many differences in the landscapes, the food and wine, the architecture and other cultural variations.
We’ve driven all over France in a motorhome and whilst we do of course have many favourite areas, we’d be happy to just potter around any area given the chance.
Choosing an area to do a road trip in France will largely be dictated by time, budget and how far you want to travel, along with ease of access to your starting location. Personal preferences for an area will also inform the decision along with time of year and therefore season.
Those who own motorhomes will also approach a journey much differently to those who are hiring a motorhome in France. Those who have a much longer journey to get to France, like us, will usually always stay longer.
The south of France is always preferred in northern hemisphere winters, but it’s a busy place in summer too. That’s why road trips in southern France are so popular. The alps attract those who love winter sports, whilst the seaside towns are of course popular in summer.
For us, our love of food and good wine also directs us to certain areas, although we’ve been perfectly happy munching on French food and sipping local French wine wherever we’ve been.
These are all factors in ultimately determining your road trip in France.
This is an itinerary that will help you to discover the Burgundy region of France. There are so many things to do in Burgundy, and doing a road trip gives you the best chance of seeing and doing as much as possible.
Where is Burgundy located in France?
Burgundy or Bourgogne as it is known in France is part of the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region in central-Eastern France. It is surrounded by the Loire Valley area to the west, the Champagne and Franche-Comté regions to the east and the Rhone-Alpes region in the south.
It is widely recognised throughout the world as one of the most prestigious wine producing areas. It’s also home to well-known regional foods and beautiful landscapes.
The area is easily accessible by train, especially the TGV fast train which runs regular services from Paris through to Lyon.
Dijon, the capital of Burgundy, is located 314 kilometres south-south-east of Paris.
Burgundy itinerary 10 days
Total kilometres for this itinerary (return) is 720 kilometres (447 miles). Across 10 days, this is only 72km per day (45 miles), on average. If you did this in seven days, it is 102 km (63 miles).
Note, however, that the bulk of this distance is from Sens to Flavigny-sur-Ozerain and from Mâcon straight back to Sens. This can be broken up according to personal preference.
Because of the close proximity of many of these locations, they don’t have to be done linearly. Some can be done on the journey south and others picked up on the return trip.
Highlights of this itinerary
- Great for lovers of good wine or those wanting to explore the different varieties of wine available in the Burgundy region of France.
- Ability to travel slowly through Burgundy, without ever having to get onto the autoroutes (unless you want to).
- Good supply of Aires de Service and France Passion locations as well as official campgrounds.
- The small towns along this route are just as interesting to visit and are deserving of a stop.
- You can find great places to stop for a break or lunch: think canals, rivers and country areas. The Bourgogne Canal presents many beautiful opportunities for this to happen.
- The small boulangeries and fresh produce markets in the small towns are great to stock up on items for the motorhome or for a quick bite to eat.
- If fine dining is of interest, there are a number of Michelin-starred restaurants here in incredible locations. If not, Burgundy is known for its regional specialities like boeuf bourguignon.
Sens is always the starting point for us when we are hiring a motorhome in France, as this is where the depot for France Motorhome Hire is located. We’ve been using FMH for many years and coming back here each time takes all of the planning hassles out of the equation.
Located 90 minutes south of Paris by fast train, it puts us in a good logistical position for travel within France and into other European countries.
The Burgundy region of France is home to the northern part of the Bourgogne Canal.
Commencing at Migennes, 40 km south of Sens, the Bourgogne Canal runs south-east to the north-west from Pouilly-en-Auxois, where it empties into the Yonne River.
From Poullly-en-Auxiois a 3.3 metre long tunnel was built in 1832 to connect with the southern part of the Bourgogne Canal that runs from Escommes to Saint Jean de Losne. On the southern side, the water flows to the south-east (the opposite direction to the northern canal)
The canals were built in France as a method of transportation in the days before motorised land transport. Even when rail and vehicles became more prolific, they were built alongside the canals.
As a result, driving along the roads in northern Burgundy in particular offer beautiful views of the canals and canal barges, and many opportunities to stop and watch the barges and canal boats pass through the locks.
As such, we chose to start our itinerary from Sens to follow the Bourgogne Canal for a little of the way. It’s a beautiful way to drive with rural outlooks.
Where to stay in Sens
There are a number of good permanent locations to stay in Sens.
We always pick our motorhome home up in the afternoon and by the time we have done all the hiring activity, checked over the vehicle and done our grocery shopping, it’s often too late in the day to contemplate driving too far.
We’ve developed a nice routine where we head over to the Aire de Service at Gron. It’s a good hard-stand site in a quiet location and it’s perfect for getting ourselves set up quickly for the road trip ahead.
Then we just sit outside in the semi-rural surroundings with some of our favourite French things and contemplate our trip and think about how wonderful it is to be back in France once more.
This location is free to park overnight and also has toilet facilities as well as water and a dump location.
Location: 4-6 Rue des Petits Prés, 89100 Gron
Aire Municipal d’Entre Deux Vannes – There is a charge for overnight parking of around €10, and water and electricity are available. There is a supermarket and boulangerie across the road.
Location: 191, Avenue de Sénigallia
Distance from Sens to Flavigny-sur-Ozerain – 177 kilometres (110 miles)
Flavigny-sur-Ozerain is one of those pretty French towns that sit aloft a hilltop, the terracotta rooftops prominent from a distance. In fact, it’s yet another one of the towns that are officially named one of the prettiest villages in France.
The village dates back many centuries and was fortified during medieval times. Parts of the old ramparts still exist along with tunnels and what were once entrances to the village.
Things to do in Flavigny-sur-Ozerain
Wander the old laneways
One of the best things to do in Flavigny-sur-Ozerain is one of the simplest. Take a slow stroll around the narrow, cobbled streets that are typical of many French towns of the same era. This is a very small town, with only around 400 permanent residents, so getting around is easy.
Note: the village does get busy during summertime as visitors flock to check this beautiful location out.
Visit the Saint-Pierre Abbey
There are two main points of interest in Flavigny-sur-Ozerain. The Saint-Pierre Abbey was built in the 17th-century and housed the Benedictine Monks who created the aniseed flavour balls that this village is known for. At the abbey, you can also see an ancient crypt.
Buy Anis de Flavigny
In a building attached to the abbey, the hard (break your teeth kind of hard), round sweets of Les Anis de Flavigny are produced.
Using the same recipe that dates back to the days of the Monks, you can find almost any flavour here, although it is the Anis (aniseed) that is the original and most popular.
Lesser known fact: The French movie Chocolat was filmed in Flavigny-sur-Ozerain
How to get to Flavigny-sur-Ozerain
The D905 goes south from just outside Sens and tracks all the way down the west of Dijon where it joins into several of the major highways.
At Venarey-les-Laumes, get onto the D103T, then D10. Just outside the village follow the signs to D9 (right turn off the D10).
On the right hand side, there is a parking area, outside the village. Park here as it is the easiest place to do so and it’s not far to walk into the main streets.
From the carpark walk up the stone stairs across the road and you will find yourself in Rue de l’Abbeye. Follow this down the road a little and you will find the Les Anis de Flavigny store.
Where to stay
The Burgundy region is rich with France Passion locations. We stayed at a local Flavigny-sur-Ozerain wine producer’s property where we did a wine tasting and bought some of their Pinot Noir.
Outside we sat in the motorhome watching the locals work until it was time to wash the mud off their gumboots and go home for the day. At 7.30 pm, the site was quiet and we had it all to ourselves until morning.
There are several official campgrounds in the general area.
Camping Pont du Lac is approximately 20 kilometres south-south-west of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain.
Location: Rue du Lac, 21140 Pont-et-Massène, France
Camping Municipal Alesia about 10 kilometres to the north-north-west.
Location: 15 Rue du Dr Roux, 21150 Venarey-les-Laumes, France
Distance from Flavigny-sur-Ozerain to Châteauneuf-en-Auxois – 41 kilometres (25.4 miles)
Another of the prettiest villages in France. If it was up to me, they’d all be classified in this way. Without even trying, we seem to find those that are officially classified as being amongst the best in the country.
Locally known as plain old Châteauneuf, this fortified town on the top of a hill in the middle of the Auxois hills is anything but plain. In fact, it’s one of our favourite villages in the Burgundy region.
Things to do in Châteauneuf-en-Auxois
Take a tour of Châteauneuf Castle
The main feature here is Châteauneuf Castle, a military fortress with its early buildings dating back to the 12th-century. As wars ensued, further walls and fortifications were added. In the 15th-century it was modified further to become a live-in castle.
Visit Eglise Saint Philippe et Saint Jacques
The Eglise Saint Philippe et Saint Jacques (Church of St James and St Phillip) is another important building here, but once again, it is the streetscape of the town that provides Châteauneuf-en-Auxois with its soul.
Walk through the town
With a small population residing in historical medieval houses, the town is well kept and much loved. Wander around and take the time to admire the beautiful buildings, some of which are undergoing major renovations to bring them back to their former beauty.
There are several small galleries here and a wonderful gourmet food store where you can pick up local wine, truffle products, vinegars and other artisanal goodies.
Take in the view of the surrounding hills
If you are looking for a great view over the hills, there is a viewing point tucked away under a huge tree and near La Croix de Mission. If you come from the main carpark, turn right at the last “street” on your right before you go through the city wall.
Tip: If you are planning on travelling in July, Châteauneuf-en-Auxois celebrates its medieval heritage every two years (on the even years) with a Medieval Festival.
How to get to Châteauneuf-en-Auxois
If you are coming from Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, take the 9J road out of town. This will eventually turn back into the D905 (the main road south we took just out of Sens).
The D977 is the final highway that will bring you into Châteauneuf-en-Auxois.
The main parking area is on the northern side of the village. It’s a short walk from the main town area and at the other end of the town to the castle.
It is possible to drive into the town and drop passengers off near the castle.
Distance from Châteauneuf-en-Auxois to Dijon – 41.5 kilometres (25.7 miles)
Dijon is the capital of Burgundy and shouldn’t be missed. It’s a fabulous city, with plenty of things to do, great history, markets and food. There’s also the famous Owl Trail.
If you can, allow yourself a full day (or more) in Dijon. Our article below gives all the detail you will need to enjoy your time in Dijon.
Distance from Dijon to Beaune – 45.8 kilometres (28.4 miles)
Routes des Grands Crus
From Dijon, you can quickly get onto the Burgundy Wine Trail or the Routes des Grands Crus as you head south towards Beaune. It’s a great part of Burgundy to spend a few days if you have the time, especially if you are a lover of good wine.
If not, it makes for a perfect day trip between Dijon and Beaune. The Routes des Grands Crus runs for 60 kilometres (37 miles) and runs parallel to the main highway from Dijon to Beaune.
Beaune and Dijon are two of the largest cities in Burgundy and are both favourites of ours, having been here now a number of times. Visit Beaune on a Saturday if it fits in with your itinerary as the fresh food market makes it a special place to be.
Beaune is also perfect for riding bikes and it makes for a nice activity to ride around the old city walls.
Aires des Service Givry – quiet village, overnight parking available, hard stand. Water and electricity are available with jetons.
Location: Rue de la Gare, 71640 Givry
We stayed at a France Passion site in nearby Vessey. Once we’d settled in, we went to meet the owners and took a tour of their farm complete with cows, guinea fowl, chickens, crops and a friendly golden retriever.
Distance from Beaune to Chalon-sur-Saône – 34.8 kilometres (21.6 miles)
To the west of Dijon and Beaune, a number of small villages line the Bourgogne Canal. We travelled along the stretch of canal from Fleury-sur-Ouche to Escommes aboard the canal barge Savoir Vivre. This area also includes Châteauneuf-en-Auxois that we have already mentioned above.
The highlights of this area are:
- La Bussière-sur-Ouche
If you have bikes or like to get out and walk, you can do this along the tow paths that run alongside the canals. Look for the lock houses which have the distances between each lock written on them so you will know how far it is to the next one.
Château Sainte Sabine
Location: 8 route de Semur – Route départementale 970, 21320 Sainte-Sabine, France
Abbaye De La Bussière
Location: D33, 21360 La Bussière-sur-Ouche, France
As the name of this town suggests, it lies on the River Saône, creating a beautiful ambience. The towns throughout the Burgundy region are awash with the half-timbered medieval houses and Chalon-sur-Saône is no different.
It’s one of the things we truly love about this area. It’s a step back in time and so wonderful to see these houses being protected for future generations to enjoy.
Things to do in Chalon sur Saône
Spend time in the town square
Most of the activity occurs around the main town square, a feature that even the smallest of French villages has. In Chalon-sur-Saône, the Eglise st Pierre Chalon sur Saône (church of St Pierre) is a key feature, along with the town hall (Place de l’Hôtel de Ville) and the Vivant-Denon Museum, which highlights local history.
Visit the museums
There are four museums in the city centre for those interested in having a look. Chalon-sur-Saône was the birthplace of photographer Nicéphore Niépce. A museum is now dedicated to him and the printing and photography industry.
Go to Place du Marché
Not far away, the Place du Marché is the place to go to see the Cathedral Saint Vincent, also known as Chalon Cathedral. With some fo the building having 11th-century origins, the imposing facade was added in the 19th-century. This area was the original town centre.
Many of the medieval buildings can be easily seen around Place du Marché. The area around here is pedestrianised so it’s perfect for taking a slow walk around and getting to know the town a bit more. Take the time to stop for a coffee or lunch here too.
Walk across the river to St Laurent Island
As a town on the River Saône, it comes with a distinctly Parisian feel. Promenades line the river, flanked by the beauty that is French architecture. In the middle of the river, lies St Laurent Island, eerily similar to Île de la Cité in Paris. Be sure to get over to the island for a different perspective of the town.
How to get to Chalon-sur-Saône
From Beaune, the D974 will allow you to get to Mâcon, blending back into D906 as it gets closer to the town.
Distance from Chalon-sur-Saône to Mâcon – 59 kilometres (36.6 miles)
Mâcon is the southern-most (major) town of the Burgundy region, and the final destination for this itinerary.
In Mâcon, the rolling hills of the upper Burgundy department of Côte-d’Or flatten out here. So much so that it is perfect for riding your bike, which is exactly what we did, riding in from the official campground on the outskirts of the town.
It’s also another vibrant river town poised on the River Saône.
There’s another subtle change here with the abundance of timber houses subsiding away to make room for the bright, pastel coloured buildings. More modern than those from medieval times, but up close, still very much showing the signs of their age. Modern they may appear but they’ve still got plenty of stories to tell I’m guessing.
Allow at least one day to see the best of Mâcon if you can.
Things to do in Mâcon
Weave your way through the cobbled laneways that run behind the main wall of buildings along the river. The river is fantastic for people watching, eating and drinking, but it’s the backstreets that are hiding the best of this town.
Église Saint Pierre (Church of St Pierre)
Spend a bit of time in Burgundy and you’ll become very familiar with churches bearing the name of St Pierre. Here in Mâcon there’s yet another, but this one is a stunner.
This impressive church, a new one by French history standards, was built in the 19th-century. It can be found at Place Saint Pierre which is usually a hive of activity.
Vieux St Vincent (Old Mâcon Cathedral)
Unlike the youth of the Church of St Pierre, the old Mâcon Cathedral is deeply entrenched in the past, but it’s had a tough life. Only the entrance and two towers are left standing now.
It makes you sit and think about the breadth of ancient buildings in Europe and how truly lucky we are to have had so many either survive or be re-built over the centuries for us to continue to enjoy. Especially given the number of wars, revolutions and fires!
As a case in point, this cathedral was severely damaged in the French Revolution.
Maison de Bois (The Wooden House)
This was one of our favourite things to see in Mâcon, the oldest house in the town. We’ve seen some incredible wooden buildings before, particularly in France, but this one was another level. Don’t come to Mâcon with seeing Maison de Bois.
Maison de Bois was built between 1490 and 1510 and the facade is made completely from timber. It didn’t take quite this long to build but historical records are unable to pinpoint the exact dates. Adding to its character are the gargoyle-like carved wooden features that adorn the facade. Some are quite cheeky too.
Walk the banks of the River Saône
With pedestrian-friendly walkways and bridges, the city and the banks of the river are ideal for stretching your legs and taking in the river. There’s always something going on. On the day we were here, a river cruise had just pulled up for their day trip, sending a throng of people forth into the town to explore.
There was also a marathon (of sorts) being conducted along the riverfront and a fishing competition was also underway. We spent quite some time just hanging around watching all the activity.
Cross the river via Pont Saint-Laurent
On the other side of the river lies the town of Saint-Laurent-Sur-Saône. The current bridge, Pont Saint-Laurent, has been around since the 11th-century. Prior to that, a timber bridge carried people to and fro.
A beautiful arched bridge, like many found on the Loire River further north, has been extended throughout the centuries, but always in keeping with the arched architecture. fortunately, this was one of only several bridges to survive the bombings of World War Two.
How to get to Mâcon
The A6 comes out of Chalon-sur-Saône if you are in a hurry, but we always prefer to stick to the smaller roads. The D906 continues all the way down south, joining Chalon-sur-Saône to Mâcon.
Where to stay in Mâcon
Once again, we stayed at a France Passion site but there is a very good official campground in Mâcon, about 3.5km out of the city. It is close to the river and you can walk or ride along the river for half of the way. It’s flat and easily navigable.
Location: 1 Rue des Grandes Varennes, 71000 Sancé, France
Distance from Mâcon to Sens – 307 kilometres (191 miles)
This itinerary represents just a slice of what France and the Burgundy region has to offer. On any given day of your road trip, you can take a different turn, east or west and find yourself in amongst another part of this beautiful country.
How long should you spend in Burgundy?
If you are not restricted by time, you can quite literally spend months in this area exploring every single village and area from top to bottom. Unfortunately not everyone has that opportunity, so this itinerary provides guidance and suggestions for where you may take a road trip in France for a shorter period of time.
As always with our itineraries, they are best done slowly and flexibly. Take our ideas of where we have visited and pop them into your own places if and when they fit.
At a push, you could do this in seven days, but that would be rushing things a little. Ten days would be perfect as a minimum for this itinerary. There are many itineraries found online that suggest you can do three days in Burgundy France, or even four. Any such articles will only ever skim the surface as it is just not physically possible to see Burgundy in three days. You will really only hit the highpoints of a few cities.
You can of course do this road trip in Burgundy with a hire car. We use and recommend Rentalcars when we are hiring standard vehicles.
Tips for travelling in Burgundy France
Driving in Burgundy is easy. It’s mostly flat, the roads are quite good (unless you get on the dirt tracks by accident, which we often do) and you can do it all without getting onto the toll roads.
Remember that if you are going to be doing wine tasting or eating out to be mindful of the drink driving rules in France. The limit in france is 0.05.
English is spoken proficiently in all of the major towns but not the smaller villages. We try to speak French wherever we can but if you need help, a phrasebook can still get you out of a tricky situation.
There are tourism centres in all of the major towns and they are always very helpful. Some, like Dijon, even have activities and self-walking tours now available on smartphone apps.
If you are driving large motorhomes, it’s best to park them on the outskirts of the larger towns. In our articles on Dijon and Beaune noted above, details are given for motorhome stopover and parking locations.
Best time to visit the Burgundy region
The weather in Burgundy dictates the best time to travel. May to October is the pick of the months to visit the Burgundy region. The summers are Mediterranean-like but be warned, they can get very hot particularly in July. Their winters get down to zero and below as well.
Harvest time is usually around the end of August to the middle of September but this can be impacted by environmental factors.
More motorhome travel resources
- Must-ask questions before hiring a motorhome in France (or Europe)
- What’s inside a campervan?
- Things to pack to make your motorhome life a breeze
- Tips for picking up a hired motorhome
- Tips for motorhome safety
- Comprehensive packing guide for motorhome road trips
Motorhome itineraries in France
We hire motorhomes in France through France Motorhome Hire. If you are looking for an online quote, use our special promotion code BEERCROI to receive €50 off.
If you are a non-European resident, you might also be considering buying a motorhome in France. To ensure you are fully briefed on all of the possible issues and impacts, we recommend reading our article on how to buy a motorhome in France legally.
France travel resources
- We use Skyscanner to view and book flights
- When researching and booking accommodation, we use Trip Advisor.
- For tours in any region of France we recommend Get Your Guide or Viator
- We use and recommend Rentalcars and AutoEurope for car hire