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Photography by Brandon Presser
When you picture the French countryside you’re probably imagining Burgundy. Sweeping fields of green, hillocks dotted with stone fortresses, and placid rivulets befitting a lily-dotted Monet. It’s the rural France of the tourist brochures, and feels like some sort of fairy tale combustion between Robin Hood’s forest and the Beauty and the Beast’s “little town.”
Spring in Burgundy is a particularly magical time to visit — the grass always seems dewy and the blooming rapeseed splashes radiant bursts of yellow across the otherwise beige-and-green landscape. A springtime visit also promises much more personal time with the region’s main attractions before the legions of tourists file through in the height of summer. The area, though bucolic, is considerably compact, making it a great place to explore by bike.
Over the course of the week we’re laying out a Day-by-Day travel planner of the best things to see, and best places to stop on a cycling tour of what the New York Times called one of the world’s must-see destinations in 2015. This tailor-made trail ensures that you get the best of what Burgundy has to offer: canal-side views, forest-y rambles, crumbling castles, and a generous smattering of good food and wine.
Leaving La Bussière-sur-Ouche, continue along the canal until you reach the township of Pouilly-en-Auxois where you’ll leave the waterway to surround yourself with the enchanting greenery of the Morvan Regaional Natural Park. When you arrive in Saulieu, check into Relais Bernard Loiseau for the evening.
(La Bussière-sur-Ouche to Saulieu: 50km/30miles)
Points of Interest
Relais Bernard Loiseau
Located in the heart of little Saulieu, this luxury Relais & Châteaux inn features gorgeous gardens, cozy hunting lodge-style rooms, and an excellent three-star Michelin restaurant run by the talented Patrick Bertron. The set menus range from 70 to 210 euros (without wine) and showcase some of the region’s best produce. The restaurant is most well known amongst diners for its frog legs and dessert (like edible sculptures), but all of the inventive appetisers are worthy of a mention as well.