- Countryside A vine romance
- Country life Haute cuisine heaven
Distinguished wines, world-renowned cuisine and ornate châteaux of honey-coloured stone – Beaujolais is everything the Francophile dreams of.
Located in the heart of France, this is a rural idyll of old villages, vineyard, lush farmland, forest and gentle hills, where the graceful Saône and Rhône rivers merge. At its core is the chic metropolis of Lyon, former capital of the silk industry and the first stop on any self-respecting gourmand's grand tour. A bright firmament of Michelin-starred restaurants offer gourmet tables overflowing with fine Burgundy and some of the best cuisine in France. Horse riding, ballooning and cycling will let you savour the rich landscape of Beaujolais, and even burn off a few calories after a night on the gastronomy.
Do go/Don’t go
Visit in May to see cherry blossom in bloom, or during the autumn harvest when turning leaves give the region a spectacular colour. Summer in the city can be hot and humid, but never overwhelmingly so. The third Wednesday of November sees the town of Beaujeu come together to get a first taste of the year’s Beaujolais Nouveau. The winter months can be rainy.
- Planes Lyon Saint-Exupery airport (www.lyonairport.com) sees plenty of short-haul action from across Europe and North Africa; fly to Paris or Nice for long-haul connections.
- Trains High-speed TGV trains connect Lyon to the rest of France. High-speed TGVs connect Lyon to the rest of France and Europe. The station isn’t central, but an efficient tram network will get you there. London to Lyon takes four to six hours by Eurostar, via Lille or Paris (www.eurostar.com).
- Automobiles A car is highly recommended if you want to visit the vineyards, châteaux and historic towns scattered throughout Beaujolais and Burgundy; a 30-minute drive from Lyon takes you into the heart of the region.
- Taxis In towns, pick one up from a taxi rank or hail one on the street. If you’re travelling in more remote areas, try to book a car in advance – or prepare for a long walk.