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Saone et Loire

Saone et Loire is a French department in Burgundy, Eastern France and is the most populated of the region with 544,893 inhabitants spread in an area of 8, 575 km2.

Burgundy
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Geography

Saone et Loire is located in the South of Burgundy region surrounded by Cote d’Or, Jura, Ain, Rhone, Loire, Allier and Nievre. This department comprises different areas: the Autunois with the Morvan massif, the Charolais, the Creusot-Monceau Blanzy, the Bresse plain and the Chalonnais and Maconnais hills. The Loire River is abound with flora and fauna (500 flora species and 190 bird species). The South of this department is very famous because it is a part of the Beaujolais area which produces essentially red wine. Every year the third Thursday of November there is the Beaujolais Nouveau with a lot of events all over France and especially in the Beaujolais area.

Towns and villages

Chalon sur Saone is located on the Saone side, at the east of the department and is the more populated of Burgundy region. The city is also listed as an “Art et Histoire” city with numerous historic and religious buildings, theatres and museums. The centre of Chalon sur Saone is a historic area with half timbered houses, lanes and towers (usually from the 16th century).

Macon is located on the South of Saone et Loire, on the side of Saone River, at the East of the Monts du Beaujolais. The city looks like a Provencal town with coloured buildings and is listed as a flowery city. The centre of Macon is the shopping and the historic area of the city. The quai Lamartine (quay), le Vallon de Rigolettes and the marina are lovely areas to enjoy a walk. Moreover, the city has an art museum which is an old convent, 2 castles (Saint Jean and Perrieres) and a theatre.

Autun is an antic and medieval city in the North of the department close to Morvan and Feuillus woodlands. Autun is also listed as an “Art et Histoire” city with antic remains (a 6km wall with towers, a Roman theatre…) and Middle-Age remains (St Lazare Cathedral…). There are also other interesting visits to do in Autun such as the Pierre de Couhard (pyramid funerary building), the Italian theatre where there is a market 2 times a week, the Janus temple, the old jail, Brisecou waterfalls and museums (archaeology, middle-age and natural history)

Activities

The most popular activities in Saone et Loire are golf, karting, leisure parks, hot air-balloon, laser game, helicopter, squash, climbing, a zoo, boating (no license needed), cruises (Loire and Saone River), lake activities, fishing, rowing, thalasso and hiking.

You can visit Pierre de Bresse castle, the cities of Bibracte, Autun, Cluny, Parays-le-Monial, Macon, Chalon sur Saone and local markets. You can also hike in the Voie Verte “Green track” to Charnay les Macon to Cluny (23km), discover the Mont Pouilly, the prehistoric area of Solutre which is a primitive and geological area with an interesting fauna and flora.

There are several tours organised: Tuesday afternoon to discover the natural treasure of the Solutre and followed by a tasting of local products, the Grange du Bois on Wednesday afternoons (Botanic, geological and organic cheese testing). If you want to discover French goat’s cheese, there is a tour called: “le chemin des chevres” which will show you secrets of goat’s cheese and of course you could try several flavours.

You can go to Bernard Dufour chocolate factory (the best French chocolate maker) and see how he makes its delicious chocolate. You could taste them and take initiation lessons to make delicious ones at home.

In May there is the Grands vins Francais competition and the Wine national fair.

Gastronomy

This department is famous for Charolais goat’s cheese, Maconnais goat’s cheese, the Bresse fowl, Charolaise meat, snails, Maconnaise andouillette, Bressane salad, cooked meats, grattons, Meurette eggs, fishes cooked by Morvandelle, Bourguignone and Maconnaise ways (caper, pike, trout…), Gaufrette Maconnaise (cake with fudge, lemon and vanilla flavour), the Bouchon Maconnais (chocolate), the Ideal Maconnais (meringue with almonds and nougatine), the Bernard Dufour chocolates and also wine from Beaujolais and Loire area.

Useful information:

Tourism office in Burgundy:
www.francetourism.com

Maps of Burgundy:
www.ign.fr
www.maps.google.fr

Travel from the UK

By air: Lyon international airport is at 90mn from Burgundy.

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