The landscape of the Saône valley is beautifully contrasted. On the east, the vast plain of Bresse expands all the way to the mounts of Jura. To the west, calcareous hills, most favourable to wine-growing, are separated by valleys and their meandering streams. The western side of the Saône, limited by the Morvan region and to the south by the mounts of Beaujolais, is the most interesting to visit.

The old villages on the hills and in the valleys are linked by an intricate network of paths. Very few farms or houses are found outside of the villages. Tidy hedges border the meadows and the vineyards extend as far as the eye can see… With very little traffic, one can delight in the pure magic of this truly beautiful landscape.

Centuries-old stone houses, grand old trees, wonderful small Roman churches, charming little restaurants, the old public washhouse in every village, all make you feel as if time had stopped here. Far away from the crowds, heavy traffic, constant noise and stress, this simple, basic environment seems as the utmost luxury.

The pretty village of Préty has a 15th century Roman church, the stone public washhouse water fed by a spring; a bakery, a café, and old houses with vegetable gardens. It is a pleasure to walk to the bakery to get fresh croissants and baguettes, and hear the glad “Bonjour” from neighbours. A 45 minutes walk takes you to Tournus, where you will find supermarkets.

The château of Préty, on the border of the village, offers a breathtaking view over the Saône valley and the hills of Mâconnais. South of Préty, a wooded marshland harbours a wildlife park, and hiking trails criss-cross the entire village. The Saône is a peaceful river, easy to walk to for a picnic, try a little fishing or just watch the boats go by.

Tournus is a medieval town along the Saône river, abounding with good restaurants, nice terrace cafés, antiques stores and boutiques. Wonderful old façades line the streets and their charming squares. Uptown, the magnificent 10th century Roman abbey is surrounded by a peaceful cloister; and the old huge refectories now make great exhibition rooms. Flea markets are held regularly along the river banks.

Excellent wines and gourmet food have long made the reputation of Burgundy. The land continues to provide not only work for the people of the area, but also contributes to maintain this tradition of good living, with the vineyards, growing fresh produce in the fields or breeding cattle for the finest meat.

The culture of Burgundy is a fine combination of simple healthy living and a great historical past. Concerts are often given in the small Roman churches or in the castles of the neighbourhood; and craftsmen still apply themselves to their trade in the remote villages. The overwhelming consumer society observed today seems rather unattractive in comparison!

The people of Burgundy take pride in their historical past, as witnessed by the way they tastefully restore their homes. However, if southern Burgundy has prospered very well since the Middle Ages, one notes a regular decrease of the rural populations, in favour of nearby urban areas such as Chalon or Mâcon.