Spring in Burgundy is one of the most colourful times of year. From the bright yellow rapeseed* fields to the delicate pink blossom on the cherry trees, and the burgeoning green-leaf growth of the famous vineyards, the entire region springs into colour as the days grow longer and the weather warmer.
Spring also heralds some great events in Burgundy. If you’ve got a hotel barge holiday or hire boat vacation in Burgundy coming up, here’s our choice of the top 10 spring events in Burgundy to take in as you make your way down river or up canal.
Classic cars in Burgundy
Event: A must for any petrol-head especially if you have a penchant for classic cars. The village of Tournus hosts one of the stages on the TourAuto this year when over 200 classic cars will gather in the Place de l’Hotel de Ville. Expect to see gems on wheels including the Ferrari Berlinette and Jaguar MK. And when the cars have left on the next stage of their tour, head for the Benedictine Monastery and Saint Philibert Abbey before a Michelin-starred dinner – Tournus shines bright on the haute cuisine firmament with no less than 4 Michelin stars.
When: 20 April, 11am to 3pm
Activities for children in Burgundy
Event: Chateau Olympics for the entire family giving everyone a chance to show off their sporting and intellectual skills while having a whole lot of fun at Chateau de Brancion in the lovely medieval village of Martailly-les-Branson. And every family team gets a prize at the end. When you’ve finished at the castle, pop into the village church to admire the stunning medieval frescos.
When: 1 May at 1.30pm
Price: €8 for anyone over 5
Find out more: http://www.chateau-de-brancion.fr/
Burgundy wine in the spring
Event: The pretty town of Beaune hosts the annual Saveurs de Vignes when a leisurely stroll takes you through the vineyards – just coming into leaf and flower – and treats you to some of the best wines in Burgundy and gourmet local cuisine. The 8k walk winds its way round 5 food stalls (all serving delicious local fare plus perfectly paired wines) with music and entertainment along the way.
When: 5 May. Tours leave between 11am and 2pm
Price: adults €50, children up to 13 €15
Find out more: http://www.beaune-saveursdevignes.com/english-version.html
Horse racing in Burgundy
Event: Semur en Auxois has been hosting this event for centuries and it’s one of the greatest traditions in the area. The entire town steps back into the Middle Ages for a weekend of horse racing through the town including the highlight – the Race for the Ring when jockeys in full livery race 2,120m along the dirt track in just 2 minutes. Chariot races also take place and non-equestrian events include arts and crafts stalls, and concerts with everyone in full medieval attire.
When: 14-16 May
Antiques galore in Dijon
Event: This is one of the main annual events in Dijon and the annual antiques fair ranks among the biggest in France. Over 120 exhibitors come together and showcase the very best in French antiques. Highlights on the stalls include 18th century furniture and Art Deco objects, but this is somewhere you’ll find a treasure trove of beautiful things including probably a French kitchen sink.
When: 14-22 May at Parc des Expositions, 11am to 7.30pm
Price: Free entry
Find out more: http://www.destinationdijon.com/en/
Medieval fun in Burgundy
Event: Medieval fairs are major events in Burgundy and one of the largest in spring takes place in Saint Apollinaire. Expect a full day of entertainment – jugglers, mock battles and music, all washed down with l’Ambroisie nectar and plenty of medieval fare. Artisan stalls offer traditional arts and crafts, and there’s a ‘children’s corner’ too.
When: 22 May at Parc de la Redoute
Price: Free entry
Find out more: http://www.ville-st-apollinaire.fr/
Words do come easy
Event: At the ‘Word Festival’ in La Charité sur Loire when the town becomes the City of the Word for a 4-day event celebrating language. All art forms have pride of place including photography, dance, music, street art and of course, the written word so even if you don’t speak French, or just have a basic knowledge, you won’t be lost for words here!
When: 25-29 May
Price: Free entry
Find out more: http://www.festivaldumot.fr/
Roller blade marathon
Event: Dijon hosts one of the stages of the France Master Marathon Cup for roller skating talents. After you’ve watched the skate masters doing their speedy stuff round the circuit, join in some of the related events for all ages and skating talents – roller skating, roller hockey and a skate park, plus games for all the family.
When: 12 June
Find out more: http://www.rollermarathondijon.com/
Music for everyone
Event: In late June, Aix en Othe becomes the centre of musical events in Burgundy with a giant music festival. The event aims to offer something for everyone and to do this it splits into three separate events: a Travelling Cabaret when performers visit the villages around Aix en Othe; Festi’Coccinelle especially for children and packed with activities and attractions; ‘Les Jours Mabouls’ offering a variety of live music performances from folk to rock.
When: 25 June to 12 July
Price: Depends on the event
Find out more: http://www.festivalenothe.org/
Event: Spring is one of the best times of year in the Morvan national park, a natural paradise of vast forests, lakes and mountains. After the harsh winter months, the flora and fauna in the park burst into life again. Best explored along one of the many hiking and biking routes, the park also offers good climbing opportunities as well as plentiful fishing. Highlights include the Canche gorges and the archaeological settlement of Bibracte, once home to the Gauls.
When: Anytime during the spring
Price: Free entry
*Similar to Canola