What if Saône-et-Loire was the destination for a romantic or family weekend? This department of Southern Burgundy has so much to reveal that it could even quickly make you want to stay longer. You will discover towns and villages with a superb heritage, abbeys and castles eager to reveal their history, and a nature that is conducive to multiple outdoor activities. On foot, by bike or even by boat, you can walk through the heart of famous vineyards, through vast green meadows, along rivers that invite silence, without forgetting the gentle reliefs to immortalize breathtaking panoramas. Lovers of great wines, good food and other cheeses, Saône-et-Loire is also a land of choice for gourmets. It is easy to understand that South Burgundy invites you to all the pleasures of life and to the awakening of the senses.
Attacking the heritage of Saône-et-Loire
Following Route 71 - South Burgundy is like taking an American road trip, but with a Burgundy accent, crossing the varied and generously green landscapes of this department in the center-east of France. Chalon-sur-Saône, in the north of the department, is an indisputable stop to contemplate the Saint-Vincent cathedral, the numerous colored facades and wood-framed houses. The best is to walk along the Chemin de l'Orbandale to soak up the city center and stop at the foot of fortifications, towers, bastions and other architectural attractions
Further south, Mâcon, the prefecture, is also a must-see. The city of Lamartine also shines with its houses with colorful facades. The Saint-Laurent bridge, the banks of the Saône, the Saint-Pierre church or the Ursulines museum and its collections retracing the history of art from Antiquity to the 21st century are all stops not to be missed. To simplify the walk of the curious, the bronze arrows of the Tracé de la Plume will guide you in the center of the city.
The Saône-et-Loire region takes you far back in history and never fails to surprise you with the diversity of its rich heritage, such as Autun, in the Autunois-Morvan region, which is home to ten remains from the Gallo-Roman era, making it the leading Gallo-Roman site north of the Loire
In a completely different style, the Creusot-Montceau area leads travelers to discover two cities that are emblematic of the industrial boom of the second half of the 18th century. The city of Le Creusot, with its 100-ton sledgehammer, plunges us into the history of coal, iron, steel and the Schneider family. The history of the city can also be discovered at the Museum of Man and Industry. In Montceau-les-Mines, you can admire the spectacle of the rising bridge, before going to observe the architecture of the mining cities of yesteryear and celebrating the memory of the miners of yesteryear at the Musée de la Mine in Blanzy.
Along the Route71 - South Burgundy, the stops in the towns and villages of character seem almost infinite. Semur-en-Brionnais, in the Charolais-Brionnais region, is one of the most beautiful villages in France with its picturesque streets, its magnificent Romanesque church of Saint-Hilaire, its castle and its 9th century square keep.
Paray-le-Monial shines with its superb basilica, the only one in the department, and the entirely sculpted Renaissance façade of the Town Hall - Maison Jayet
And what about Cluny, the high place of the spiritual renewal of Europe in the Middle Ages, its famous abbey is worth a visit with, among other treasures, numerous monastic buildings, a town rich in Romanesque and Gothic houses and two churches
In Tournus, another charming city, the Saint-Philibert abbey site is a world famous masterpiece of Romanesque art. Its facade, its nave, its frescoes and other mosaics contribute to make it one of the most beautiful jewels of Southern Burgundy.
We also take pleasure in discovering the Route des Châteaux, in 17 stages. The castles of Couches and Digoine and their gardens, the medieval fortresses of Brancion and Berzé-le-Châtel... there is no doubt that Saône-et-Loire offers a real tour of the grand dukes. To make your trip easier, go to the Route71-Burgundy web application. The geolocation system accompanies the visitors and gives multiple ideas of discoveries, without forgetting the offers of restoration and accommodation around. This is a precious tool to create the stay of your dreams, in a few clicks!
A getaway to go green
When the weather is nice in Saône-et-Loire, you want to spend as much time as possible in the fresh air. Here, nature is varied and offers experiences that make you discover the territory in slow tourism mode. Let's understand this way of discovering the department while taking the time to enjoy each element that surrounds us and by reconnecting with the natural environment.
By bike, for example, we can enjoy venturing into the heart of the vineyards of the Côte Chalonnaise, the Couchois and the Maranges. The Voie Verte leads through the hillsides and generous nature to stop at welcoming winegrowers to taste some of Burgundy's appellations, including Bouzeron, Montagny and Rully. The Voie Bressane is another Voie Verte rich in unspoiled nature, with gently undulating terrain and leading through countryside of bocages, fields, ponds and rivers.
In the Charolais-Brionnais, the trips that take place on foot or by bicycle, lead along the Loire and other canals. The "Balades Vertes" circuits are a breath of fresh air in the bocage, the stronghold of the Charolles beef PDO.
Many other landscapes are unavoidable in Saône-et-Loire, like the one where the Roche de Solutré rises. It is here, in the Mâconnais-Clunisois region, that the local vineyards are dominated by this incredible geological formation that rises to a height of nearly 500 m. After reaching the top, the panorama of the surrounding vineyards, hills and villages is breathtaking.
On sunny days, Saône-et-Loire offers an original way to discover the gentle landscapes of Southern Burgundy. Visitors can embark with family or friends for a river cruise. With 300 km of navigable waterways, one can for example go to the city of Digoin to begin to travel on the Canal du Centre and then continue on the Saône and finally the Seille. The ports of call, in Montceau and Chagny, are an opportunity to get on a bike and ride the Voies Vertes and véloroutes that run along the waterways, to vary the pleasures. For lovers of unusual experiences, what could be more original and relaxing than discovering the Saône-et-Loire landscapes from a boat without a license, with a few stops along the way, like in Louhans, whose historic center is remarkable with its arcades? For other fun experiences, you can plan an outing on the Saône in an authentic Breton rig, on a moped or at the wheel of a 1974 Renault Estafette in the Chalonnais. Coupled with a stop in a vineyard, the experience is authentic, a bit retro, and always very exciting.
The pleasures of the table in Saône-et-Loire
The discovery of a territory is always more complete when it includes delicious gourmet moments. In Saône-et-Loire, there are 30 AOC wine appellations in the vineyards of the Côte Chalonnaise, Couchois, Maranges, Mâconnais and Beaujolais. Gastronomy is not to be outdone with its 5 AOP, including Bresse poultry, the only poultry in the world to benefit from an AOP since 1957, goat's milk cheeses from the Mâconnais and Charolais regions, Charolles beef, Bresse butter and cream. All these products are to be discovered on the markets and in the restaurants, several of which have been distinguished.
When can you go?
You can visit Saône-et-Loire all year round, but spring and autumn are two ideal seasons for the mild temperatures and the beauty of the landscape. However, a river cruise is very pleasant in summer.
A weekend in Saône-et-Loire allows you to visit one or two cities and to walk in the nature. But with 6 distinct micro-territories, one week is not too much to discover all the treasures of this part of Burgundy.
The budget is the same as for most of the French regions
From 70 to 120 € for a night in a 3 or 4 star hotel.
It is also possible to rent apartments and houses on dedicated platforms
Allow 20 € on average for a menu in a restaurant for lunch.
Saône-et-Loire is a department that suits all types of travelers
Couples who want to spend a romantic weekend and visit the vineyards
For groups of friends and families who want to walk, bike or ride horses in the heart of green and bucolic landscapes.
A multi-faceted department with historic towns and villages, vineyards, a varied nature and a gastronomy rich in good local products.
An authentic territory with a preserved heritage and nature.
A stay outside the school vacations allows you to enjoy a calm and serene atmosphere
Beware, some tourist sites only reopen in spring!
How to get there
By car. Take the A6 from Paris, about 4 hours drive. Take the A7 from Marseille, about 3h40 of travel.
By train. Several TGV trains per day from Paris Gare de Lyon to Mâcon Loché TGV: 1 hour and 35 minutes
TER Lyon Part-Dieu - Mâcon Ville: 45-minute journey
By plane. Lyon Saint-Exupéry airport then TER or TGV from Lyon Part-Dieu to Mâcon Ville
3, 4 or 5 star hotels, gites and B&Bs are available in Saône-et-Loire. Allow 80 € for a night in a 3-star hotel.