Burgundy (Bourgogne) only became part of France in 1477: up until then the region was an independent dukedom that was more affluent and more influential than the Kingdom of France itself during the 14th and 15th centuries. Now the region is famous for its red and white wines, cuisine and wonderful architecture.
Joan of Arc was captured by the Burgundians and sold to the English during the Hundred Years War. The Cistercian and Benedictine orders are both based in Burgundy, and this aspect of the region's history has left some very colourful and interesting architecture of its own. The monastery at Cluny is in ruins but still bears silent testimony to the great power of the abbots, who were nearly as powerful as the pope. There are Roman vestiges at Autun, and Alésia was where Julius Caesar defeated the Gauls in 52BC.
The city of Dijon (famed for its mustard) is capital of Burgundy and a large university town that mixes young students with old medieval and Renaissance buildings. Thanks to the dukes of Burgundy, Dijon is a centre for European art and serves as a good place to begin your discovery of the Côte d'Or wine areas.
Burgundy's rich cuisine is also well worth a try as it combines two of the region's most famous products: red wine and good quality beef. Sauces made with Burgundy wine are dubbed à la bourguignonne; onions, mushrooms and lardons (cubed bacon) are put into the wine, heated and added to chicken to made coq au vin, or beef to make boeuf bourguignon. If you prefer white wine to red, try the region's snails (escargots), which are prepared with Chablis (and lots of garlic!).
Walking and cycling are popular activities in Burgundy and you can follow trails right through the pleasant wine-producing areas of the Côte d'Or, or cycle along the lengthy canal paths. Canal boating and hot air ballooning are also options for the more adventurous amongst you. Burgundy has 1200km of waterways including 17th - and 19th-century canals, such as the Canal du Nivernais and the Canal de Bourgogne, and the rivers Yonne, Seille and Saône, and there are a number of good, dependable companies that rent out boats.