Biking through Burgundy

Each significant climb has been graded based on the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) criteria for road racing with category 5 the easiest and 1 the toughest.

Day 1, Sunday: meet in Paris en route to Pont de Pany
A member of the crew will meet you at your hotel in Paris at 1pm for the drive to Burgundy. On the way we will visit the magnificent château of Vaux-le-Vicomte – a mini rival to Versailles.
Le Papillon will be moored in the village of Pont de Pany to the west of Dijon and upon arrival your crew will welcome you aboard with a champagne reception. Time to take a stroll and settle into your cabin before dinner.

Day 2, Monday:
22 miles with one category 3 climb (2½ miles)
After breakfast Papillon will start cruising along the Canal de Bourgogne. Tim will join us this morning for a chat about our biking program. Lunch will be on the early side, so that we can be in Beaune when shops re-open to get fitted out with our bikes. Pedaling out of town we will head straight into the vineyards of Savigny-les-Beaune before steadily climbing up the delightful valley of the river Rhoin with its dramatic limestone cliffs, and on to the quiet village of Bouilland. Maybe take a drink in the café prior to attacking our main climb of the day, the meandering ‘Combe de Nalt’. Having conquered this hill, we can relax as the countryside opens out to some magnificent views. We will pass through St Jean de Boeuf and then head down into the Ouche valley before rejoining Papillon moored near the village of Gissey-sur-Ouche.

Day 3, Tuesday:
27 miles with one category 5 climb (1 mile) & one category 3 climb (2½ miles)
An early morning breakfast cruise before we step ashore at one of the locks and bike along the canal towpath to the village of La Bussière. We now leave the canal and climb towards the village of Commarin, where we can refuel with the locals in the bar beside the château. Our next stop is the lake at Panthier, one of several reservoirs completed in the early 1840’s to supply the canal with suffient water for the then heavy commercial barge traffic; today it is an oasis for sailing and anglers. Time now to pull out all the stops and tackle our most challenging climb of the day! Up to the imposing hilltop village of Châteauneuf en Auxois, rated as one of the most beautiful villages in France. From here the views of the Auxois are splendid and there is the perfect spot to enjoy a gourmet picnic, delivered and served by Papillon’s chef. After lunch we will descend to another château, St.Sabine and continue through several villages before rejoining the barge for a stretch of cruising. Cocktails and dinner will be served on deck.

Day 4, Wednesday:
AM – 29 miles with three category 5 climbs (each about 1 mile)
PM – 33 miles with one category 4 climb (3 miles) & two category 5 climbs (each 1 mile)
Today we offer ‘le Crunch’, a 100 kilometre monster! It’s your chance to cycle through virtually the entire wine cellar of the Côte de Beaune and the Côte de Nuits with all the famous names along the way.
This morning’s ride starts in the charming riverside village of Lussigny sur Ouche.
We follow the route taken by the 2007 tour de France (Wiggins break away) to Ivry en Montagne, then onto Nolay and the fabulous views from the ‘montain des trois croix’ before dropping down through the Maranges appelation vineyards of the Côte de Beaune.
The rest of this ride reads like a wine list from one of the finest cellars in the world….Santenay, Chassagne Montrachet, Puligny Montrachet, Auxey Duresses, Monthelie, Volnay; and in case that’s not enough to work up an appetite, we have a bistro lunch waiting for us in Pommard!

After lunch we circumvent Beaune by biking a scenic route through Bouze les Beaune in the Haute Côte. There are two significant hills to negociate; after the first, we drop down through Ladoix Serrigny and then to Pernand Vergelesses before approaching the gentle four mile category 5 climb up to Echevrone and Meuilly. The following descent to Nuits St Georges will put us en route for the very best of the Côtes de Nuits vineyards: Vosne-Romanée, Chambolle-Musigny, Morey-St-Denis, Gevrey-Chambertin, Fixin and Marsannay. We’ll complete our ride on the outskirts of Dijon and celebrate an achievement to be remembered! The minibus will transport us back to Papillon and civilized living.

There is the option of biking just in the morning, or in the afternoon, or not at all if you prefer to use this middle day as a rest day.
Le Papillon will be covering some interesting ground, climbing to the summit level of the canal and then passing through a 2 mile tunnel!

Day 5, Thursday:
28 miles with one category 4 climb (2 miles)
This morning you can either take it easy and enjoy cruising along the canal, or head out in the minibus to visit the châteaux of Châteauneuf and Commarin. There is also the option of playing a round of golf at the 18 hole course at the château de Chailly. After lunch onboard and following the heroic exploits of yesterday, we embark on a gentle ride towards the Morvan National Park. We start with some delightful villages, Chailly-sur-Armançon, Mont St Jean and La Motte Ternant. The landscape then changes to the extensive conifer forests so typical of the Morvan; this is a slightly wild agricultural area which during the last couple of centuries provided Paris with all of its firewood and a convenient supply of wet nurses!

As we head back to Papillon we’ll pass through Thorey-sous-Charny where a small but vivid revival of traditional wine making is underway. There are currently only 3 vineyards in the Auxois, and whilst the one at Thorey is the smallest, it’s also the best – and not many people know about it! We’ll walk amongst the vines, help with the picking if it’s harvest time and then enjoy a sample back in the village amongst the barrels. Papillon is nearby and dinner is in the oven.

Day 6, Friday:
35 miles with two category 5 climbs (each 1¼ miles), one category 4 climb (2 miles) and one category 3 climb (2 miles)
Soon after breakfast Le Papillon will approach Pont Royal where we will begin our final ride. Our first hill takes us to the picturesque village of Saint Colombe before we descend to Marigny-le-Cahouet. Time now to skip valleys from the Armancon to the Brenne and then ride up to Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, another one of ‘les plus beaux villages de France’.
‘Chocolat’ was filmed here and the village still produces the little oval tins of ‘Anis de Flavigny’ now found the world over. One shouldn’t leave without visiting the 8th century crypt. Outside and if we’re lucky, we’ll catch a glimpse of the current monks in their black cassocks playing football! We’ll pedal on to our picnic spot below the statue of Vercingetorix, the leader of the Gauls who was defeated here in 52 bc by Caesar. After lunch and another climb, there will be time to pause and visit the ‘potager’/vegetable garden at the château of Lantilly.
And then a wonderful ride down to an undiscovered gem – the walled medieval town of Semur-en-Auxois – experience the cobbled streets as did the French road cycling championships in 2008. We’ll leave town in style riding the same route that the horses take each year for the ‘Fête de la Bague’, the second oldest horse race in Europe! The last few kilometres are along the canal towpath – just far enough to find Papillon and Celebrate!

Day 7, Saturday:
After breakfast, transfer by minibus to your Paris hotel, train station or airport arriving during the traditional French lunch hour of 12 to 2pm.

‘Biking through Burgundy’ 2017 Tariffs

Boat chartered with six passengers


Boat chartered with five passengers


Boat chartered with four passengers


Price includes return door to door transfers from your hotel in Paris, 5 days of biking and cruising, 6 nights accommodation, use of light weight hybrid bikes, entry fees and visits, open bar, all meals and wines including picnics or lunches and snacks when on the road.

Not included are travel and cancellation insurance, airfares, green fees, jeep rides, hot air balloon flights and crew gratuities.

We accept the following payment cards.


“Burgundy, like much of France, is laced with canals just made for spending lazy afternoons gliding by pastoral scenes”

 Rick Steves