Hills of Gold in France by Debra Amundson

It is not just food and wine the French are famous for; they are a notorious walking country. Franceonfoot.com offers the key to unraveling the puzzle of thousands of miles of foot trails that criss-cross France. The site can direct you to the local tourist bureaus for “promenades” through ancient villages and vineyards or more strenuous hiking and climbing in the Morvan, a national park in Burgundy. (Most paths are suitable for two wheels too.)
The Cote d’Or, in Burgundy, France, literally means hills of gold, the color of the hills in the fall after the grapes are harvested. This tiny slip of land only 35 miles long by 1 mile wide could just as well be called the gold hills for the “strike in rich” opportunities it offers to active travel.

Cote d’Or famous for it’s world-class wines, is fast becoming legendary for it’s devotion to the continued development of both hiking and biking trails for mountain bikers, pleasure seekers and professionals alike. There are hundreds of miles of paths that connect the ancient villages, chateaus, and vineyards. You certainly could not ask for more picturesque surroundings.
There are 28 different “promenades”, (walks), that tour Beaune and the villages surrounding it. Two prominent bike routes, the Velo, and the Voie Vert, (Green Way), visit the vineyards and flank the Burgundy Canal. This famous waterway was an early concept of Leonardo da Vinci.

All trails are well charted; maps are available from the local tourist bureaus. There is a number of biking, or hiking, specialty tours to choose from that can include anything from wine tasting, to yoga, or culinary arts. Whether budget, or first class, it is easy to go it alone or be completely catered to with exotic meals and accommodations.
Don’t miss out on the rich history of the Cote d’ Or. Visit the Musee des Beaux Arts in Dijon, considered second only to the Louvre Museum for its collections. Dijon, the capital of Burgundy, and Beaune, the capitol of the wine trade, are the largest towns of the Cote and both offer magnificent 14th century architecture. Nolay, Semur-en-Auxois and Vezelay are but a few of the mediaeval villages that offer fascinating sites and history.
To make the most out of these famous, fertile, fields of grapes you might consider a wine testing class. Vin Sensation, in downtown Beaune, offers 1 to 1 ½ hour classes, tasting from 4 to 8 wines. http://www.sensation-vin.com. L’ Ecole de Vins de Bourgogne, also in Beaune, is staffed by industry professionals. For the past 30 years they have offered a variety of programs, from a 1 ½ hour wine tasting class, to a full week covering the entire wine making process. L’ Ecole des Vins also offers a weekend seminar with 18 wines for tasting over the two days in class and at meals. The weekend is all-inclusive, you are provided 4 star accommodations, gourmet lunch and dinner.

You might want to mine a little of that gold for your self and see why Burgundy is called, “the land of great art, and good living.” For both walking and biking maps, equipment, winery guides and hotel
accommodations contact, Office de Tourisme de Beaune, http://www.ot-beaune.fr . For tours and general Burgundy information, http://www.franceguide.com for the EZ Reference Guide.