When you think of the Burgundy region of France, you probably think of wine, fine dining, maybe escargots, and biking through vineyards – none of which are especially kid friendly. However, last summer we found a great last-minute travel special for a gorgeous chateau in the region, so we set off with our two little ones for a long weekend and were pleasantly surprised to find that this region can be great for families.
We stayed at Chateau de Gilly, which is situated between Dijon and Beaune, the two main towns in Burgundy. The location was perfect and the hotel was beautiful and caters to families with a pool, small playground, kids’ menu at their fancy restaurant, and even little gift boxes filled with goodies waiting on the kids’ beds. We loved this hotel, but there are a multitude of wonderful accommodations in the area!
During the day there is plenty in the region to keep the whole family entertained. Dijon is a charming small town famous for their mustard and is also the home of Creme de Cassis, the basis of the Kir apertif. The highlight for us was the unique “Owl Trail,” where the famous sites around the city are marked with a numbered golden owl tile on the sidewalk. The kids had a great time hunting them down while we adults appreciated the town. Maps of the trail can be obtained for a few Euros at the tourist office. There is also a chance to sample the famous Dijon mustard in many different flavors at the Maille shop in the center of town. Dijon is a great place just to wander around, and of course the kids couldn’t miss a ride on the carousel at the center of town.
We found the town of Beaune, known as the capital of the Burgundy wine region, to be equally charming. Probably the most famous landmark of the town is the former hospital, with its beautifully tiled roof. It is now a museum, and there is an audio guide for children that kept our little ones entertained throughout the tour. There are many opportunities for wine tasting in the town; we enjoyed the tasting cave of Marche Aux Vins near the museum because the tour was self-guided. We were able to take our time when the children were content and then speed through the last couple of wine when they were beginning to get antsy.
The region itself is quite lovely, with rolling hills and vineyards as far as the eye can see. We enjoyed just driving through the countryside and small villages and making occasional stops to let the kids run around while we sampled some wines. There are also several larger-scale operations that you can tour, such as Veuve Ambal, which specializes in a sparkling white wine known as Crémant and includes a tasting in the tour, and even a non-alcoholic tasting for children. Le Cassissium is another of the larger places with a small museum and factory tour. It includes tastings of various flavored liquors for the grownups and flavored syrups, which were definitely a hit with the kids.
Burgundy is a beautiful region of France where you can enjoy fine food and wine, even with the little ones in tow. It was far more family-friendly than I had ever imagined, and we would happily visit this area again as we didn’t have time to do everything we wanted in our few days there! If we do visit again, I will definitely want to rent bikes for at least one of the days to cycle through the area. Children’s seats and bike trailers are readily available from various bike rental companies. In short, don’t be intimidated to travel with children to areas that don’t seem like they cater to families – as we were, you might just be pleasantly surprised!
Text and photos by Ashley Klukowski
Ashley is a mother to two little boys and a passionate traveler living in Geneva. You can follow her adventures in traveling with children at www.bohemianbornbaby.com