Tasting fine wines often involves hanging out in dimly lit cellars, but Burgundy is also a paradise for lovers of the great outdoors.

The Comité Régional de Tourisme de Bourgogne (www.burgundy-tourism.com) publishes excellent brochures on outdoors options (including Burgundy by Bike, available at tourist offices) and has a list of boat-rental companies.

Hiking & Cycling

Burgundy has thousands of kilometres of walking and cycling trails, including sections of the GR2, GR7 and GR76. Varied local trails take you through some of the most ravishingly beautiful winegrowing areas in France, among them the vineyards of world-renowned Côte d'Or, Chablis and the Mâconnais (in Saône-et-Loire).

Rural footpaths criss-cross the Parc Naturel Régional du Morvan and some depart from the Morvan Visitors Centre, but you can also pick up trails from the Abbaye de Fontenay, Autun, Avallon, Cluny, Noyers-sur-Serein and Vézelay.

You can cycle on or very near the chemin de halage (towpath) of the Canal de Bourgogne all the way from Dijon to Migennes (225km). The section from Montbard to Tonnerre (65km) passes by Château d'Ancy-le-Franc; between Montbard and Pouilly-en-Auxois (58km), spurs go to the Abbaye de Fontenay and Semur-en-Auxois.

For details on Burgundy's planned 800km of véloroutes (bike paths) and voies vertes (green ways), including maps and guides, see www.burgundy-by-bike.com or stop at a tourist office.

Canal & River Boating

Few modes of transport are as relaxing as a houseboat on Burgundy's 1200km of placid waterways, which include the rivers Yonne, Saône and Seille and a network of canals, including the Canal de Bourgogne, the Canal du Centre, the Canal Latéral à la Loire and the Canal du Nivernais (www.canal-du-nivernais.com). Rental companies offer boats from late March to mid-November (canals close for repairs in winter).

France Afloat Based in Vermenton (25km southeast of Auxerre), with a second base in Tonnerre.

Locaboat Holidays Based in Joigny (27km northwest of Auxerre), with additional bases in Montbard, Mâcon and St-Léger-sur-Dheune (27km southwest of Beaune).

Hot-Air Ballooning

From about April to October you can take a stunning montgolfière (hot-air balloon) ride over Burgundy. Book through the Beaune and Dijon tourist offices. Some veteran outfits:

Air Adventures Based just outside Pouilly-en-Auxois, 50km west of Dijon.

Air Escargot In Remigny, 16km south of Beaune.