TOWN, VILLAGE, NEIGHBOURHOOD
The superb Voie des Vignes (vineyard route) follows in the tracks of an old railway, because this is where the Chagny-Etang sur Arroux line used to pass through. Here are my 3 good reasons to experience this bike ride for yourself. I hope you enjoy my top tips, and my special favourites.
Come with me!
So whether you’re a novice cyclist or been riding all your life, it’s time to saddle up !
The panoramas from the Roche à Bec viaduct, and more particularly from the Cormot viaduct: a 360° view of Nolay, the vineyards and cliffs; the views plunge down onto market towns such as Change, Paris L’Hôpital and Cheilly les Maranges. Enjoy the views up to the mountain of Trois Croix or Mont de Sène.
My top tip : come down from the Cormot viaduct by one of the paths and take a picture of this arched bridge. Built in 1869-1870, it’s 158 metres long and 18 metres high. You won’t hear a choo-choo train, just the birds singing and the lapping waters of the Cozanne. If you have time, go to the end of the world, 2 km towards the cliffs of Cormot.
Located along the route, these pretty villages invite you to take a break.
Several detours are on the cards, even if that’s not part of the route. Like the Nolay Market Halls from the 14th century. Its imposing wooden framework and its Burgundy lava roof weighing 400 to 600 kilos per square metre are superb.
My special favourites : to really soak up the atmosphere of the place, sip a peach diabolo or Burgundy Hautes Côtes at Bistro des Halles with views of ... the market halls. The narrow streets lead to the beautiful square and its red half-timbered house, where you’d think you were in Place François Rude in Dijon ! And if you look up, the figurines in their bell tower, Jacquot and Jacquotte, ring out the bells. They sound amazing on this square full of resonance, every quarter of an hour.
My top tip : There’s always an activity or celebration for you to share in Nolay, so check out what’s on.
After passing through the villages (Change, Paris L’Hôpital, Cheilly-les-Maranges) and the hillsides of the Maranges, the Voie des Vignes leads to Santenay. This pretty flower village is a thermal and wine village, with its own Casino. Forming the crossroads of the Voie des Vignes and the Beaune-Santenay cycle route, it’s a great place to take a stroll.
My top tip : at Place du Jet d'Eau, dine on the terrace of the restaurant Le Terroir to the sound of the splashing fountain ... Make sure you try the Epoisses cheese ... no shortage of flavour here ! If you have the time, take a short detour to Saint Jean de Narosse church, which dates back to the 13th century. Located under the Mountain of Trois Croix, it’s open Saturday and Sunday from St John’s Day to the Heritage Days from 3.00 to 7.00pm.
From Santenay, you’ll quickly reach Chagny via Remigny and Bouzeron. Along these waterways of the Canal du Centre, you’ll find somewhere cool in the shade of the acacias. Boats and barges share your journey to the river stop at Chagny. The canal takes you to Chalon sur Saône, Digoin, the Atlantic, the English Channel, the Mediterranean and even the countries of Eastern Europe via the Rhine. Chagny is a famous gastronomic stop-off point, where Maison Lameloise with its three Michelin stars forms one of the greatest restaurants and hotels in the world!
My top tip : come to Chagny on a Sunday morning to experience its colourful market and local products. Enjoy marbled ham or a slice of judru, that big sausage that’s wider than it is long, a piece of goat’s cheese on a slice of old-fashioned bread. There’s no doubt about it : you'll be coming back to Chagny !
The Voie des Vignes is made of smooth asphalt, an excellent surface for cyclists. This track is very well maintained throughout the year. You descend gently with a slope of just -2%.
If this is too short, too easy for you, you can try out the various loops on offer from the Voie des Vignes. There’s the Dheune Valley and the Côte Viticole, an 18.5km loop from Santenay, or the Grand Tour of Chassey Mountain, a route covering 23.8km that starts from Remigny.
Choose your table for a picnic: in the shade, in the sun, it’s your choice. Picnic tables line the route. There are benches, too, so you can admire the landscapes.
You can rent your bike in Nolay, Santenay and Chagny at the Tourist Offices. Electrically assisted bicycles are also available if you want to discover the Voie des Vignes without too much effort. Within these villages, you’ll find all the necessary supplies (grocery store, bakery, delicatessen, supermarket etc) and can also get your bike repaired if you run over an acacia branch !
My top tip : The Voie des Vignes is very well maintained, but sometimes, acacia branches can fall on the ground, so avoid them where you can. In spring, their clusters of white flowers smell so good; in summer, these trees provide much-needed shade.
In addition to the region’s varied landscapes, you can discover railway structures all along the route: viaducts, bridges, tunnels, little stations...
You’ll find explanations on modern, illustrated panels. You’ll also find bike racks in every town and all along the route, railings where you can safely attach your bike.
And the last point I’d make, you have everything you need to hand: restaurants, accommodation (bed and breakfasts, hotels, camp sites), picnic areas in a region full of riches.
My top tip : extend your stay and visit the wonderful sites in Pays Beaunois to make your getaway an unforgettable trip.
Pratical aspect :