Imagine biking smack in the middle of fields upon fields of vineyards. In the distance lies a picture-perfect fairytale town with a church steeple perched high above the houses. The path behind you leads to an equally charming town taken from the pages of a storybook. The hillside on your right is filled with the grand cru vines, which bear some of the most expensive grapes in the world. To your left are the village grapes that create surprisingly different wines as you move from one village's plot to the next.
This is the Voie des Vignes, a 23-kilometer (~14-mile) moderate (there are some hills that my Mom did not enjoy!) bike trail stretching from Beaune to Santenay. It’s hands down the best way to see Burgundy. While driving in a car can also afford you picturesque views of the towns, nothing beats seeing them in the midst of the vines.
The roundtrip trail can easily be biked in a day with stops for lunch and tastings at a few wineries. From Beaune, you’ll pass through the famous Burgundian towns of Pommard, Volnay, Meursault, Puligny Montrachet, Chassagne Montrachet and Santenay. Each town has not only a unique character but also distinct characteristic to their wines that you don’t have to be a sommelier to pick up on. It’s a treat to let your taste buds distinguish the differences in a premier cru chardonnay from two villages. It’s also amazing how towns that are only a couple of miles apart are famous for different wines. For example, Volnay is known for their outstanding pinot noirs, while next door, Meursault is famous for their incredible chardonnays.
My family and I almost missed this incredible biking experience due to the cold and rainy weather, but the weather turned on our last day! We rented bikes in the neighboring village of Pommard and rode through Volnay where we stopped for a tour and tasting at Domaine Francois Buffet. We met with Mrs. Buffet for a wonderful tasting and tour of their wine cave (one of the biggest in Volnay) before biking on to our village of Meursault. After stopping for a glass of chardonnay on our house rental’s patio, we continued biking to the village of Puligny Montrachet before turning back to Pommard. We biked about 12 miles roundtrip. We would have loved to have biked the entire Voie des Vignes if we had more than one afternoon of good weather.
The bike ride was one of my favorite memories from our trip to Burgundy and I would highly recommend renting a bike for at least a day or two of your visit. If you don’t want to rent a car, it’s possible to get around to most of the wineries by bike using the trail. The only downside to biking is that you are limited to buying whatever wine you can carry in your backpack. That said, I was glad we had our car so that we could stop back by Domaine Francois Buffet to buy a bottle of Volnay Premier Cru Clos des Chenes 2008 on our way out of Burgundy.