In this world-famous French wine region, the seasons have been charted out by winemakers for centuries. Every month brings its own wine-fueled joy in Burgundy – the grape harvest, wine festivals, the release of an exceptional vintage, or an extraordinary food-and-wine pairing made even better by fresh seasonal ingredients.
The traditional sun-seeking crowds flock to Burgundy in July and August for sightseeing and exhilarating outdoor activities in temperatures that are comfortably warm but rarely sizzling. Winter on the other hand is startlingly quiet; some sights and places to stay shut down completely and the pea-green vineyards turn a monochrome brown, but the general peace and quiet has its own charm.
It's the shoulder months that cast the most exquisite light on the region’s bewitching landscapes and natural treasures. For memorable road trips to Burgundy vineyards, uplifting hikes on country trails and tranquil waterways for boating, spring and fall are peak seasons.
Whatever your glass of vino, here are the best times to visit Burgundy.
Low season (November–March) is best for budget explorers
The region might appear to have gone into hibernation, but that is all part of winter’s charm. In keeping with the sleepy, snail-slow vibe enveloping the region, monuments and museums are blissfully empty. Accommodation is at its cheapest. Some family-run hotels and chambres d’hôtes (B&Bs) shut for a couple of months.
Shoulder season – April to June and September and October – is time for outdoor adventures and wine tasting
Whether you're a wine lover, outdoor-action junkie or natural beauty aficionado, you’ll struggle to find somewhere better than Burgundy in spring and fall. The region’s sensorial cocktail of gorgeous landscapes, zero-kilometer cuisine and spirited wine culture is at its headiest – such colors and flavors! With the departure of the summer crowds, things calm down at Burgundy's Unesco-listed abbeys and honeypot hilltop villages.
High season (July–August) is the best time for sunshine and music festivals
Pleasant temperatures, pretty-much-guaranteed sunshine and a sampling platter of outdoor festivals celebrating food, wine and culture make this a prime time to visit Burgundy. Son et lumière (sound and light) shows light up châteaux, cathedrals and other historic monuments, and the choice of guided tours and activities is gargantuan. Restaurant and café life spills outside and the best accommodation fills up fast; book ahead for both tables and rooms.
With New Year festivities done and dusted, rural Burgundy slips into hibernation. This is the month to catch up on seasonal exhibitions at museums in Dijon and Beaune, and recharge batteries with fireside wine tastings, hearty suppers and festive galettes des rois (Epiphany cakes). Winemakers celebrate their patron saint, Vincent, at the end of the month.
Key Events: Epiphany (6 January), Saint Vincent Tournante (29-30 January 2022)
Skies are grey and temperatures hover not much above zero. As Lent approaches, Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) raises the curtain on street carnivals and sugary beignets (donuts), still warm from the village boulangerie (bakery).
Key Events: Mardi Gras celebrations, Carnaval de Chalon-sur-Saône (late February),
Spring feels close, with warmer, sunnier days and a sprinkling of wine festivals marked by guided walks through vineyards, tastings and fireworks. Canals reopen to boaters.
Key Events: Carnaval d’Auxonne (6 March 2022), Fête du Crémant et du Tape Chaudron (3rd Saturday, Châtillon-sur-Seine)
Weekly open-air markets overflow with local produce, café tables spill outside onto pavement terraces and people take to the waterways on kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards. Wine fairs mushroom all over the place, including Mâcon's celebrated Concours des Grands Vins de France.
Key Events: Concours des Grands Vins de France (Mâcon)
Welcoming the first of the season’s tourists to the region, longer, warmer days call for slow and indulgent exploration. Mustard fields blaze a glorious and photogenic sunflower-yellow.
Key Events: Rallye Décourverte de la Route Touristique des Vignobles de l’Yonne (Vézelay), Rallye des Vignes en Fleurs (Mâcon)
Splendid summer weather makes this an idyllic time to explore Burgundy’s scenic trails on foot or by bicycle, go boating on local waterways or take a road trip through the scenic countryside. After dark, son et lumière (sound and light) shows cast a magical spell on Auxerre’s cathedral.
Key Events: Fête de la Musique (21 June), Les Grands Heures d’Auxerre (June–September)
July is the time to dip into the region’s wild rivers and lakes, and picnic on river beaches. Farmers plant fields of saffron bulbs and open-air music concerts – many free – fill vineyards and streets with merriment.
Key Events: Festival Musical des Grands Crus de Bourgogne (July–October, Chablis, Cluny, Noyers and around), Festival International Opéra Baroque et Romantique (Beaune), Festival Chalon dans la Rue (Chalon-sur-Saône).
In August, the French join everyone else on holiday. Expect warm – even hot – sunny days, big crowds at Burgundy’s blockbuster abbeys and hilltop villages, and music festivals galore.
Key Events: Rencontres Musicales de Vézelay (Vézelay)
Vineyards hum with activity as pickers hand-harvest the region’s prized grapes during the annual vendange (grape harvest). In autumnal woods, dogs sniff out decadent black truffes de Bourgogne (Burgundy truffles).
Key Events: Marché aux Truffes de Bourgogne (Noyers-sur-Serein), Fête de l’Andouille (Blanzy)
Expect wine festivals galore this month as winemakers crack open the first bottles of vin bourru (a young wine made from fermented grape must). Keen hikers, bikers and horse riders hit trails that blaze with gold, rust-red and other glorious fall colors. To the delight of Burgundy gourmets, black truffles are still in season.
Key Events: Fête du Vin Bourru (Nuits St-Georges), Fête des Vins (Chablis), Les Foulées des Vendanges (Savigny-lès-Beaunes), Tournuscîmes (Tournus), Fête de la Truffe et des Papilles (Is-sur-Tille).
Temperatures plummet and canals close for maintenance and repair works. No weekend is as festive as the third weekend of November, when wine lovers pour into Beaune for Les Trois Glorieuses – a trio of wine celebrations honoring Burgundy’s grandest vins, including the famous Vente aux Enchères des Vins des Hospices de Beaune wine sale.
Key Events: La Paulée de Meursault and Vente aux Enchères des Vins des Hospices de Beaune (3rd weekend, Beaune), Marché aux Truffes (Vézelay)
Days are short, it’s cold and many outdoor attractions (including MuséoParc Alésia) close for winter break. Festive markets and Les Glorieuses de Bresse celebrations bring seasonal feasts of garlicky snails, Bresse capon and spicy pain d’épices (gingerbread), and plenty of winter cheer.
Key Events: Les Glorieuses de Bresse (Bourg-en-Bresse, Louhans, Montrevel-en-Bresse, Pont-de-Vaux)
Safety recommendations and restrictions during a pandemic can change rapidly. Lonely Planet recommends that travelers always check with local authorities for up-to-date guidance before traveling during Covid-19.
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