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It is impossible to explore a region the size of Burgundy during one holiday but, even a short visit will illustrate abundantly the richness of the region’s heritage and the important role it played in European history.

This part of France was a main route between north and south Europe. For trade, for invasion, for religion…the historical importance of Burgundy cannot be overstated.

It was in Burgundy, I discovered, that the Gallic resistance to the Roman invasion came to an end. The legendary hero Vercingetorix met his match against one Julius Ceasar.

Vercingetorix in Alesia

In fact, Burgundy is scattered with reminders of the Roman occupation and none more so than Autun, which was the second town of Gaul and founded 2000 years ago by the Emperor Augustus.

The sites are very impressive especially the theatre. In Alesia those final battles took place but, also in this area is Bibracte. Bibracte is astonishing. It was a city whose 10,000 population left for the more agreeable Autun.

The site was not discovered until the 19th century and it was only very recently excavated on a large scale. One wonders how such a large city was ‘lost’! Today a visit is a real insight into life during the pre Roman times.

Burgundy wasn’t Burgundy, I discovered, in Roman times. In fact, it was named after a Germanic tribe, maybe originary from the island of Bornholm who had settled in the Geneva area and then spread their lands west into Burgundy and south as far as Marseille.

The region is named after this tribe who brought a degree of stability to this part of France about A.D. 500 and allowed Christianity to flourish. It would, however, take a few more centuries of turbulence before the religious revival would seriously take over Europe, France and, certainly, Burgundy.Vase de Vix, the finest urn in the Mediterranean, in the Museum at Chatillon sur Seine

Vase de Vix…

 

The museum in Châtillon-sur-Seine in northern Burgundy houses the massive 5ft. high bronze urn, the ‘Vase de Vix’. It was buried more than 2,500 years ago with the ‘Lady of Vix’ and her elegant jewellery.

The urn is the biggest and finest to be found in the entire Mediterranean area.

Solutré…a pilgrimage

In the south of the region, close to Mâcon, the landscape is dominated by the huge monolithic rock of Solutré.

Surrounded today by vineyards, the rock was not only a landmark but a symbol of Celtic pilgrimages. In later years, Président Mitterrand would lead a group on the annual walk to the summit of the rock. You can also follow the trail. The view from the top is splendid.

credits : Burgundy Tourist Board

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