Family-Friendly trip in Burgundy

Our Family-Friendly Cycle Trip – Burgundy, 2018

On this page, you will find...

Our trip combines elements of our two Burgundy rides, chosen to offer a variety of activities and entertainment for all ages.

The first half:  canal barges decorated with flower boxes, the tow paths which they ply converted to dedicated cycle lanes.  Swimming holes surrounded by weeping willows; Auxerre’s cathedral and Vézelay’s basilica; Epoisses’ cheese, whose perfume you recognize in the pastures of wild flowers you cycle past; ice cream made from the milk of the cows which dot the hillsides....  And, for the parents, the crisp slate of Chablis:  chardonnay with attitude. 

See it all from our country lanes, which you share with much odd-looking, grape-oriented farm machinery, but very few cars.

This is the part of Burgundy that the French themselves love most.  Tiny stone villages, flower-bedecked canal locks, and vineyards which produce wonderful wines at a third the price of their better-known cousins just to the east.  Goat cheese farms, wild boar from the Morvan plateau, and other culinary delights will shake up the pizza-based diet the kiddies are used to (don't worry, there is always a children's menu — though it probably won’t have pizza). 









The second section of the trip showcases all that you’ve heard about France:  the world’s most precious vineyards, 15th century villages, Renaissance castles, great art, and more of France’s best cuisine. 

Cycling through vineyards is one of our favorite pastimes, and we will discover Burgundy’s greatest during the course of this half of our trip, pedalling in the Côte d’Or, or “Golden Hillside.”  The rest of Burgundy’s great wines (and all of the best-known) come from the vines along our route.

But we also spend time off the beaten track, in deep forests and pastoral farmlands, far from famous wine towns. 

The 14th c. Nolay market pavillion stands on one of the prettiest town squares we know, the lot forgotten by time.  And one of our best cycling days follows an old rail bed, to a castle with a hedgerow maze in which your GPS is going to be of absolutely no use.

Loop rides let you vary your riding distances to suit your tastes.  Overall, a wonderful idyll in pastoral France!

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Day-by-Day Itinerary:   Family-Friendly Burgundy

Riding distances don’t mean much on this trip.  Rides of different distances, 10 - ∞ k, are proposed every day.
But distances are shown for sample rides that we particularly like.
Day of the Week
Typical distances, in km
If you have subscribed to our Access Package, you will generally meet us in Paris for the trip to Burgundy.  Train through the Seine valley to Laroche-Migennes.  The trip assembles in Laroche (it is also possible to arrive from the southeast, via Dijon). 

From Laroche, a midday ride on country lanes brings us to the cathedral city of Auxerre. 
Lunch down by the river port to watch the canal boats drift by. 

We now join the tow paths of the Nivernais canal, and pedal along the canal towards Vermenton.  The locks are covered with flowers; the houseboats with overweight tourists.  Our destination, and home for the next three nights, is at the confluence of the Cure and the Yonne rivers.  A city park offers swimming in the river.

Half Baggage
40 k
Riverside riding in the Yonne valley.  Our nominal goal is Clamecy, an old logging center for the Morvan plateau.  The town is a well-preserved haven for centuries-old buildings, and has a bizarre 500-year history as the home-away-from-home for the bishops of Bethleham (yes, that Bethleham).

But the real interest is in the beautiful ride.  Mailly-le-Château offers views of the valley from the ramparts of the ruined chateau.  Châtel-Censoir is a picturesque village on the banks of the river.  Coulanges has a mini-golf course to give you a bit of upper body work.  And the whole trip takes place on country lanes which line the river, under the branches of willows and chestnut trees.

Return via the plateau, on roads which see so few vehicles that you wonder why they could possibly have been built.

Half Baggage
35 k
A beautiful riding day, along water courses and on country lanes lined with hedgerows.  First stop is the Grottes d'Arcy.  Underground lakes, vast halls filled with limestone formations, and also dozens of paleolithic cave paintings, awe-inspiring testimonies by our ancestors.

In the afternoon, leave the river, and head to the Vézelay basilica, one of France’s best-preserved Romanesque structures of its size, and starting point of centuries’ worth of pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela. 

Feeling ambitious?  Continue
past the lovely water mills of the Cousin Valley, and to Avallon.  Walk the 16th century ramparts, and pour boiling oil on your fellow riders struggling up the hill behind you.  You’ll all have a hearty laugh over it at dinner, before they poison your soup (a cheerful local custom). 
45 - 65 k

After a short morning bike ride, a train brings us to Burgundy’s gastronomic and political center:  a nice place to take a break.  The region’s four most famous products are well-displayed:  mustard, cassis (black currants), wine, and snails.  Mix and match according to taste. 

Visit the old town, the Palace of the Ducs de Bourgogne, the wonderful covered market...   Ride the wine-colored street car (tram).  A museum of Burgundian life, ensconsed in a 17th century monastery, includes a reconstructed 19th c. market street.

On south in the evening, to our home for the next three nights, in an inn built on the ruins of an old Roman fort.  There is a climb to get up there, but mini-golf once you do!

10 or 30 k
A leisurely morning ride to Beaune, the quintessential Burgundian town.  Our bikes carry us through the southern half of the “Golden Hillside,” the Côte de Beaune.  We make our way north on quiet farm lanes, through Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet, Meursault, Volnay, and Pommard.   Names that won't mean much to the children, but the parents may detect a theme.

Use your bikes to explore Beaune’s largely car-free center.  The 15th-century hospital, a masterpiece of Burgundian / Flemish architecture, was incredibly still in use until 1971!  A wine museum occupies the former mansion of the Dukes of Burgundy — two culture hits with one entrance.  The ramparts, in excellent condition, offer a 2 k tour of the town from above.

Back to our encampment for the night, retracing our cycle route, or via a 10-minute train ride. Remember, you still have that hill to climb....
30 k
A rail-to-trail “greenway” cycle path takes us off the beaten track, and up a little side valley to Nolay, a charming 17th century market town.  Stop for mini-gold along the way...  parents, the course includes a bar.

Close by, there’s a nice waterfall at the Cirque du Bout du Monde (“hole at the end of the world”), in case your shower doesn’t work so well.  La Rochepot, on the hillside above town, offers a jewel of a medeival fortified castle, restored stone by stone by former French President Sadi Carnot. If you get up there, you are rewarded with views to forever, and a glorious downhill to come home.
35 k
Our last day is our most ambitious, but it can be shortened at will.  It takes us into the Côte Chalonaise, via a flat-as-a-crêpe rail-to-trail bike path.  The best!  Givry is the most prestigious wine town along the way, Buxy is the prettiest lunch stop, swimming holes abound, and Cormatin, our destination, has a castle out of a fairy tale.  The silliest game of the day is chasing each other through it’s maze.

Our trip disbands in Cormatin.  Bus / train connections are available to Paris (9p arrival, café / restaurant aboard the train), or to Dijon.  We recommend returning to Dijon for a final night of snails and mustard (maybe chicken for the children  :-), and can arrange a convivial hotel and supper there for those interested.
50 k
CONNECTION DAY, if you spent Saturday night in Dijon
The first morning train from Dijon to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport reaches the airport at 9a.  Book same-day flights accordingly! 
Train k:  they don't count.

Family-Friendly BurgundyTrip — Facts & Figures
2018 Dates
Baggage Services
Difficulty of the Ride
July 1 - 7
$2,295 US
$2,850 C
1,695 €
Lower prices apply to children:   see “Family Pricing,” below.
Easy to Moderate

4 of the 7 riding days are loops (out and back to the same hotel) so you can do as much or as little riding as you please.  Many options, including long rides for adults not travelling with children.

* Prices in $ and € do not include precisely the same things.  Click here for details.

Prices of Optional Extras (links lead to explanations)
$ prices include
the bike.
See here for information on bringing your own.
** At least 4 riders must subscribe to a given baggage service for it to operate.  The services listed are those currently offered on the departure in question.  Services which appear in bold already have at least 3 subscribers (so, one more would ensure their operation).

Family Pricing / Child Discounts
Age of Child
Desired Lodging
Under 2
2 - 5
6 - 11
12 - 19
Sharing Parents’ Room**
Price* =
$398 US / $498 C / 330€
Price* =
$650 US / $790 C / 520€
40% discount
on the trip price
20% discount
on the trip price
Not in Parents’ Room
40% reduction on trip price***
20% reduction on trip price***

* Prices for children 0 - 5 do not include rental bike equipment. 
Child seats, trailers, and tagalong bikes are available at additional cost.

** With separate bed (crib or “pack-and-play” for children 2 and under).

***The trip’s Private Single Room charge will apply if a child requires a single room, but single rooms for children are discounted by 25% (they may be small rooms, or independent rooms in a suite with the parent’s room).
Children 5 and under occupying their own room are garanteed to be in a suite with their parents, or in an adjacent room, ideally with a communicating door.
Children 6 - 11 are garanteed to be in a room on the same floor of the hotel as the parents’ room, and every effort is made to keep the two rooms in close proximity.


  • Discount triple rooms (used by three children) may be twin rooms with an extra bed.

  • Quad parent-and-child “family” rooms cannot be guaranteed, as not all hotels have them, and certainly not in sufficient quantity for multiple families.  When available, they will typically be rooms with one double bed and two single beds.  If you are two parents travelling with two children over 2 years old, you may request such a room when you sign up for the trip.  But you must be willing to accept the alternate (and less discounted) solution of two separate-but-proximate rooms.  If a quad can be assigned at some stops and not others, the additional discount will be pro-rated.  Available quads will be assigned in order of trip sign-up.

  • Child discounts are not cumulable with any other commercial discount, such as “student” or “group” discounts.  In all cases, the largest discount for which you qualify will be used.

Reaching & Leaving Your Trip:  General Information on Access Packages
Specific information on reaching your trip’s start in... Laroche
Specific information on departing from your trip’s end... Cormatin