France's Wine Country: Paris to Nice - Page 2

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Chateau Chemonceau
At Home on the River: Chateau Chenonceau  (Photodisc)

Day 5: Paris to Bourges (155 Miles)
Depart Paris for the fertile Loire Valley, known for its castles, vineyards, and beautiful, bucolic landscapes. Jump from Chambord, a 440-room extravagant Renaissance chateau about 110 miles south of Paris, to Chenonceau, built with beautiful arches atop the Cher River and decorated with Flemish tapestries, oil paintings, and massive stone fireplaces. Then follow the Cher to Bourges, a historic city with astounding gothic architecture, including the Cathedrale St.-Etienne. Before sundown, rent a bike and explore tiny villages and marshlands filled with birds to work up an appetite for the Loire Valley's famously delicious cuisine—try salmon in sorrel sauce or coq au vin.

Day 6: Bourges to Beaune (150 Miles)
From Bourges, it's about three hours to Beaune, a hub of Burgundy wine-making. Along the way, stretch your legs with a mountain-bike ride on forested, mountainous singletrack in Morvan Regional Natural Park ( Further along, stop in Autun, once a glorious Roman center; the Temple of Janus, two city doors, and a Roman theater still survive. Arrive in Beaune in time to taste local pinot noirs in the afternoon. Stop by the Hotel-Dieu (+;, a former hospital built in the Middle Ages with unusual multi-colored roof tiles before strolling through the vineyards at sunset.

Day 7: Beaune to Lyon (100 Miles)
Rise and travel south for about an hour until you hit Cluny. Tour the remains of the ancient abbey, once as powerful as Rome's popes and the largest church in Europe. In the surrounding hills, you'll find other, more intact churches in the towns of Tournus and Paray-le-Monial, which were influenced by Cluny's design and decoration. From Cluny, it's another hour to Lyon, a vibrant cultural and gastronomic center at the foothills of the Rhone Alps. Walk through the old city, situated between the Rhone and the Saone rivers, and savor streets lined with museums, Renaissance buildings, and churches. Watch the sunset and brilliant views of the city from the hill of Fourviere near the ruins of a Roman amphitheater.

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