The original home of hotel barging, the great wine region of Burgundy boasts around 100 châteaux across its rolling vineyard landscapes. Each so different in charm and character, with some well known and some hidden gems we’ve fallen in love with along the way – here’s our guide to some of our favourite Burgundy châteaux…
9 of Burgundy's Best Châteaux and Abbeys
Château d’Ancy le Franc
One of the finest Burgundy châteaux, this is a haven for lovers of art, history and incredible stonework. Built in the 16th century by Italian architect Sebastione Serilio, the château has a plain, austere grey stone exterior, with imposing square towers and a grand front entrance. Its lavish interior is richly-decorated with carved or painted walls and ceilings. Located between Auxerre and Dijon along the Burgundy Canal, Château d’Ancy le Franc is home to one of France’s largest collections of mural paintings.
Château de Germolles
Located 30km south of Beaune, the Château de Germolles is the best preserved residence of the Dukes of Burgundy. Built during the second part of the 14th century, this Burgundy château has great historical significance and furthermore, is a rare example of a well-preserved residence dating from the 14th and early 15th centuries. This exceptional building still evokes court life in France on the eve of the Renaissance. Enjoy a private tour of the Château de Germolles by the owners themselves!
Château de Ratilly
With origins in the 11th century, the secluded Château de Ratilly as we see it today was built on existing foundations in the 13th century. Purchased in 1951 by ceramist Jeanne Pierlot and her husband, Norbert Pierlot – the château was loving restored by the couple and local residents to feature a series of facilities including kilns, workshops and exhibition spaces. Today, this charming Château in Burgundy plays is a creative centre for the arts with a pottery workshop, continuing a local tradition which has existing since the Roman occupation of France.
Abbaye de Fontenay (Fontenay Abbey)
Although not a Burgundy château, this historic Abbey really packs a punch when it comes to ancient charm. Founded by Saint Bernard de Clairvaux in 1118, the Cistercian Abbaye de Fontenay (Fontenay Abbey or Abbey of Fontenay) is described by UNESCO as being ‘an excellent illustration of the ideal of self-sufficiency as practiced by the earliest communities of Cistercian monks’. Having been ravaged and abandoned during the French Revolution, and later serving time as a paper factory, the Abbey has been so carefully restored – it’s now the most complete remaining medieval monastery in France!
Château de Commarin
Did you know, the Château de Commarin has been in the hands of the same family for 26 generations? That’s more than seven centuries! This once fortified castle, built in 1346, underwent radical transformations in the 16th century to convert it into a modern habitation and was further reconstructed in the 17th and early 18th centuries. Within its 14th century chapel, you’ll spot a series of statues and fascinating tapestries that have been created for the family. Our guests will enjoy an exclusive private tour of the Château with Count Bertrand de Vogue.
Château de Bazoches
The 12th century Château de Bazoches has belonged to 40 different owners, from 20 different families over time. A feudal Burgundy château, it was adopted in 1675 by Marshall de Vauban, Louis XIV’s great military engineer, and the unrivalled master of sieges and the 17th century military architecture. It was here that he designed more than 300 constructions and fortified sites. King Richard the lionheart stayed here at various times, and it’s still owned by Vauban’s descendants today. A real highlight of this visit is the spectacular distant views over Vezelay, 10km away.
Clos de Vougeot
Could this be Burgundy’s best château? The Clos de Vougeot is a small château built to house the wine presses needed by the Cistercian monks to make wine for their religious ceremonies. This château in Burgundy is now the seat of region’s most sophisticated wine lovers – the Confréirie des Chevaliers du Tastevin.
Hidden Gem - Château de Ricey-Bas
Owned by the Detaisne family, the charming Château de Ricey-Bas bears a fascinating connection to the Duchy of Burgundy. Over the years, the owners have beautified and modernised its interiors and today, it is open to the public as quite possibly one of the region’s best châteaux. Guests on our La Belle Epoque cruise will enjoy a gourmet lunch with the Baroness herself, which we take in either the private salon or the atmospheric vaulted 13th century kitchen.
Hidden Gem - Château de Chamirey
Built in the 18th century atop a rocky outcrop, the Château de Chamirey is owned and managed by the Devillard family. Influenced by Italian architecture and art, the château once enjoyed a chapel adjoining the building, which was destroyed by fire at the end of the 18th century. Today, the château is often recognised by its towers that replaced grounds of the chapel. Tours of the Château de Chamirey with Finesse include a exploration through the Grand Cru plots, followed by a private tasting experience.
In Search of More of Burgundy's Best Châteaux?
Just the mere thought of Burgundy château transports you to balmy sunny days in the peaceful French countryside exploring decadent country houses following a gentle cruise along the Nivernais and Bourgogne Canals en route to the picturesque River Yonne.
For help in exploring your favourite French châteaux in the comfort and convenience of a luxury hotel barge cruise, talk to a member of our Sales Team today.