About South-East France: Southern Burgundy and Rhone Valley
For most this region amounts to a straight swoop down the Autoroute du Soleil to the Côte d’Azur. Cryptic road-side pictureboards hint at the treasures in store, but the sun beckons and you press on.
Wine lovers know how to take this at a sedate pace, making time to savour Burgundy’s Côte d’Or, the Mâconnais which rolls into Beaujolais just north of Lyon, and the Côtes du Rhône. The Romans took their time along this ancient highway, too. Between planting vines and quashing Gauls they built the cities of Augustodunum (Autun), Lugdunum (Lyon), and Arausio (Orange), all of which retain vestiges of their illustrious past. And then there is Vasio Vocontiorum, painstakingly excavated around the pretty town of Vaison-la-Romaine.
Among the best places to visit are two four-star cities, and the gourmet Mecca of Lyon, with a halo of some 20 (at the last count) Michelin stars scattered within a 25-minute radius. If the stars are beyond your reach, Lyon’s budget-priced bouchons deliver the goods and affordable local wines by the glass or pitcher, several of the museums are free and the nightlife rages.
In addition to frequent local services, Paris-Marseille TGV trains link Dijon and Avignon via Beaune, Tournus, Mâcon, Lyon and Valence. Local Rhône valley trains serve Orange for bus connections to Vaison-la-Romaine. There are buses from Dijon and Beaune to Autun; and from Mâcon to Cluny.