Burgundy châteaux you have to visit
Although less famous than their Loire Valley counterparts, the châteaux of Burgundy-Franche-Comté offer a range of attractions. Here are our favourites...
Château de Sully, Saône-et-Loire
Children are made particularly welcome at Château de Sully, largely thanks to the kid-friendly tours led by professional storyteller Thomas Volatier. The fun-filled guides often have a theme, be it pirates or princesses, and special events are organised throughout the year including an Easter egg hunt and a Hallowe’en experience. But grown-ups needn’t feel left out of the loop. Take a guided tours of the private residence to get a through-the-keyhole experience of the 16th-century property that’s home to Amelie, Duchesse de Magneta. Situated half an hour west of Beaune, the château also owns Premier Cru vineyards so don’t forget to pick up a bottle of their red, white or sparkling wine from the gift shop on your way home.
Open Apr-Nov, guided tour of the château and visit to outdoor buildings and park, €8.80, children (3-12) €4.
Tel: (Fr) 3 85 82 09 86
Château de Vault-de-Lugny, Yonne
If you’re looking for the royal treatment, head to this five-star boutique hotel in the village of Vault-de-Lugny, near Avallon. Traditional and classic in style, the rooms are all named after royal titles: le prince, le roi, la princesse; la reine. An open medieval fireplace is the focus of the basement restaurant where impeccable service and a classic menu with unusual twists make for an evening to remember. Those who want to burn off the food and wine that you inevitably will indulge in, can choose from a variety of activities including cycling in the Morvan regional park, kayaking down the Cure valley or playing tennis in the woodland court, which can all be booked through the hotel. Alternatively, you could just take it easy in the hotel’s heated swimming pool and stay cosy in front of one many crackling fires.
Doubles from €175, menu gourmand from €69.
Tel: (Fr) 3 86 34 07 86
Château d’Ancy-le-Franc, Yonne
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Set in beautiful parkland in the commune of Ancy-le-Franc, east of Auxerre, the eponymous château that was built in 1540s is a jewel of the Renaissance. The château’s lavish apartments have been decorated on different themes. From the room of arts, depicting subjects such as astrology and mathematics, to the room of flowers displaying paintings of more than 35 floral varieties, the tour offers an insight into the past lives of the inhabitants spanning five centuries. In addition to its Renaissance collection, the château hosts exhibitions of contemporary artists, as well as candlelit visits during the summer and Christmas antiques fairs. Possibly most tempting are the cooking courses held in the old kitchens. Imagine learning how to perfect French culinary classics in a place that played host to Louis XIV. Who could resist?
Open Mar-Nov, excluding bank holidays, open all year for groups by appointment, guided tour €10, children (six-15) €6.
Tel: (Fr) 3 86 75 14 63
Château de Joux, Doubs
Standing on a rocky promontory overlooking the Cluse de Pontarlier valley, Château de Joux is perfect for those looking to delve into some medieval history. Go along with a tour guide who will tell haunting tales of battle, conquest and heartache from the château’s 1,000-year history. Perhaps most spine-tingling of all is hearing the legend of Berthe de Joux in the dungeon where she is believed to have been incarcerated for cheating on her Crusader husband. The fortress also acted as a prison, and those who visit are sure to get goose bumps visiting the cells of some of the convicts, especially that of Toussaint Louverture, leader of the Haitian Revolution, who died here in 1803.
Open Apr-Nov, guided tours €7.50, children (six-14) €4.50.
Tel: (Fr) 3 81 69 47 95
Château de Couches, Saône-et-Loire
For more history-filled tales, head to Château de Couches in the commune of the same name near Chalons-sur-Saône. The former fortress of the Dukes of Burgundy dates from the 11th century and includes a later dungeon and outer walls. Visitors are invited to dress up in period costume, and on selected days, the château holds medieval pageants, with music, falconry displays and combat re-enactments. You can also stay in the charming three-room chambre d’hôte, which is decorated in the Louis XIII style.
Open Apr-Nov, doubles from €190 including a tour of the castle, wine tasting and breakfast; guided visit €7, children (four-14) €4.
Tel: (Fr) 3 85 45 57 99
Château Saint-Michel, Saône-et-Loire
Situated in the village of Rully on the famous Route des Grands Crus, the four-star Château Saint-Michel is ideal for oenophiles exploring Burgundy’s famous vineyards. The 19th-century hotel’s old-world charm blends smoothly with contemporary comforts, which you will find in the sophisticated, spacious bedrooms complete with huge beds, widescreen TVs and romantic balconies. A slice of château extravagance is served up with dinner, too which is served in a candle-lit banqueting table worthy of Downton Abbey. The excellent food is paired with local wines that are suggested by the hotel’s sommelier Matthieu who is on-hand throughout the meal to advise, inform and ensure that everyone’s glass is topped up.
Doubles from €119.
Tel: (Fr) 3 85 87 22 97
Château d’Arlay, Jura
If you want to get a walk in while visiting the region’s châteaux, the family-owned Château d’Arlay perfectly combines the two. Dating from 1774, the château is home to eight hectares of woodland where you could while away afternoons walking among centuries-old trees. In the grounds you will also find a bowling green, outdoor theatre, sheep holding, as well as substantial remains of the13th-century castle and old church that overlook the vineyards. In the château itself, a treasure trove of Restoration period furniture lives in the ornately decorated rooms. “You need time to visit d’Arlay,” says the owner, Anne. “We advise a minimum of two hours.” With all this château has to offer, that would be cutting it very fine indeed.
Open May-Oct, guided tours €6, children (six-12) €5.
Tel: (Fr) 3 84 85 04 22
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