Things to do in Burgundy it’s not all about the wine

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The first thing everyone will think of when you mention Bergundy is the wine. After all, even those who equate wine to vinegar and have no interest in the stuff knows that Bergundy wine is among the most cherished in the world. But Bergundy as a place to visit on vacation is so much more than that.

Things to do in Burgundy

The best tourist sites in Burgundy include the Rock of Solutré, the Tournus cathedral, Cluny, Brancion, and the castles of Cormatin and Couches. Other attractions include the palace of the dukes of Burgundy in Dijon, the Pézanin Arboretum (in Dompierre-les-Ormes), and Vézelay abbey. Of course there are wine tasting tours aplenty and you can also grab a pot of the regions famous mustard.

Hospices de Beaune

The Hospices de Beaune or Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune is a former charitable almshouse in Beaune, France. It was founded in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin, chancellor of Burgundy, as a hospital for the poor. The original hospital building, the Hôtel-Dieu, one of the finest examples of French fifteenth-century architecture, is now a museum.

Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon

The Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon is a museum of fine arts opened in 1787 in Dijon, France. It is housed in the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy in the historic centre of Dijon.

Half-timbered houses in Dijon

Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy

The Palace of the Dukes and Estates of Burgundy or Palais des ducs et des États de Bourgogne is a remarkably well-preserved architectural assemblage in Dijon.

Museum of Burgundian Life

Museum recounting regional history & domestic life through costumes & artifacts in an old monastery.

Château de la Verrerie

The Château de la Verrerie is an historic castle in Le Creusot, Saône-et-Loire, listed as an official historical monument by the French Ministry of Culture since 1984.

The Burgundy Slave Route

A poignant tour around the region which the Burgundy slave route includes three main sites.

Toulon-sur-Arroux and Charolles where a charter demanding the abolition of slavery was conceived and the Château de Lamartine in Saint-Point. The chateau was where the decree was issued in 1848 that abolished slavery in the Franch colonies.

Burgundy and its wine

Burgundy of course is one of France’s main wine producing regions. It is well known for both its red and white wines, mostly made from Pinot noir and Chardonnay grapes, respectively.

Burgundy wine country

Other grape varieties can be found, including Gamay, Aligote, Pinot blanc, and Sauvignon blanc.

The region is divided into the Côte-d’Or, where the most expensive and prized Burgundies are found, and Beaujolais, Chablis, the Côte Chalonnaise and Mâcon.

The reputation and quality of the top wines, together with the fact that they are often produced in small quantities, has led to high demand and high prices, with some Burgundies ranking among the most expensive wines in the world.

With regard to cuisine, the region is famous for the Burgundian dishes coq au vin, beef bourguignon, and époisses de Bourgogne cheese.

What is the Burgundy slave route

Launched in 2004, the ‘Abolition of Slavery Route’ or ‘Bergundy slave route’ reminds us of the struggle led by Abbot Grégoire, Toussaint Louverture, Anne-Marie Javouhey, Victor Schoelcher and those unknown people of Champagney against the cruel servitude that for three and a half centuries, saw 15 million Africans dragged from their lands and enslaved on the plantations of the Americas.

It forms an integral part of ‘The Slave Route’, an international project supported by the UN and UNESCO focusing on our duty to remember. Three major sites in Burgundy allow you to delve deeply into this subject: ‘the recognition of the black slave trade and slavery as a crime against humanity’.

The following is the text of a press release issued by Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Tourism, reproduced with permission.

The Burgundy slave route

On 19th March 1789, a few months before the French Revolution, in a small village of HauteSaône in the north of what is now Burgundy-Franche-Comté, the local people drew up a charter of grievances in which they expressed their solidarity with black slaves.

Veritable pioneers, they wrote to the King of France: ‘The inhabitants and community of Champagney cannot think of the ills being suffered by Negroes in the colonies, (…) without feeling a stabbing pain in their hearts’.

This was a drastic and courageous act that we can fully appreciate the visionary significance of at the House of Negritude and Human Rights thanks to a reproduction of a slave ship and numerous African and Haitian objects that illustrate negritude (or the values of black civilisations around the world).

On the summit of a rocky outcrop at an altitude of 1000 metres, the Château de Joux guard’s entry to the water gap at Pontarlier, a natural thoroughfare into Switzerland.

From 1690 to 1815 it was a State prison and, in 1802, became home to Toussaint Louverture (1743/1803), who was jailed under the orders of Napoleon Bonaparte for having opposed the reintroduction of the black slave trade.

This former slave who had become Governor of the Island of Santo Domingo (present day Haiti) and ringleader of the Santo Domingo rebellion, died a few months after his incarceration here.

Today, the cell that held Toussaint Louverture, situated on the ground floor of the dungeon, welcomes countless visitors that come to pay tribute to this predecessor of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, a symbol of the emancipation of peoples.

The Maison Anne-Marie Javouhey – Chamblanc

‘Negroes are not deaf to the voice of morality nor to that of civilisation; children of God, they are men just like us.’ Anne-Marie Javouhey.

It was in 1805 that Sister Javouhey founded a religious congregation that was soon called to the missions in the French Overseas Territories. There it would become the very first order of female missionaries.

In 1817 these sisters set off to the Islands and to Africa where they would bear witness to the black slave trade. After an initial stop in Senegal, in 1838 Sister Javouhey oversaw the emancipation of more than 500 black slaves seized aboard slave ships in Mana, Guyana.

Besides the family home of Anne-Marie Javouhey and a museum space located in the school that currently bears her name, the remembrance forest, made up of 150 trees each named after one of the first freed Africans, keeps alive the memory of the liberation of the slaves in Guyana.

These three main sites form part of the National Remembrance Hub of the Grand-Est that brings together all the French remembrance sites and historic figures involved in the abolition of slavery.

It includes the sites of Toulon-sur-Arroux and Charolles, where the charter of grievances demanding the abolition of slavery was drawn up, the Ursulines Museum in Mâcon and the Château de Lamartine in Saint-Point (71), which preserves the memory of Lamartine, a signatory of the French decree abolishing slavery that gave more than 250,000 slaves in the French colonies their freedom on 27th April 1848.

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