The world-famous wine region of Burgundy has over nine centuries of bon viveur tradition and is often described as 'the land of great art and good living'. A historic region, reflected in the traditional architecture in the many villages and towns that you pass through, Burgundy also offers a very relaxed pace of life and the rolling hills of the Yonne area provide gentle charming cycling routes.
Starting with historic Auxerre, a lovely medieval city, the cycling is easy and tranquil through a fascinating landscape of hidden villages, water meadows, woodlands and vineyards. Your route then takes you along the course of the river Yonne with several swimming possibilities along the way to Ligny, a short 10km from Chablis. You'll then cycle on to Nitry passing through the Serein Valley. Highlights of your wine & cycling tour include the celebrated stained glass at St Etienne, the ancient crypt at the abbey of St Germain, the early Gothic abbey of Pontigny and Chablis, where wine has been made for over a millennium!
You'll have plenty of opportunities to savour the delicious gastronomy of this region and you'll be able to taste several renowned local wines. Your accommodation is specially selected for its charm and character. The family run Hotel Normandie in Auxerre was converted from a maison bourgeoisie into a hotel by an ex patissier. Here you can choose your own restaurant in the medieval town only 5 minutes' walk away, while the 17th century coaching house at Ligny-le-Chatel has an excellent beamed restaurant with a familial atmosphere. A warm welcome also awaits from your hosts at Auberge de la Beursaudiere.
Auxerre is one of France's prettiest medieval cities, standing on the banks of the Yonne. You'll find two Gothic churches: the cathedral of St-Etienne (13th and 16th century with magnificent stained glass windows) and the Abbey of St-Germain (13th and 14th century with a 19th century crypt). The Hotel Normandie is ideally located to discover the delights of the city.
Leaving Auxerre, it's flat gentle cycling along the River Yonne and through the forest of St-Germain to Seignelay, here you'll find castle remains, a fine market hall and pretty views over the Serein. Head via the magnificent abbey at Pontigny (which gave sanctuary to Thomas a Beckett) before arriving at Relais St Vincent for the next two nights, with dinner included.
Originally this was the Roman Lanniacum Castrum; later, Marguerite de Bourgogne lived here. See the Church of St Peter and St Paul (Romanesque on the inside, Renaissance outside). It's just a 10km cycle to the small village of Chablis, almost entirely given over to the production of the world's most celebrated white wine. There are masses of tasting opportunities here. You may also visit Pontigny, reputed to be home of the greatest Cistercian abbey in the country.
Cycle along country lanes to Chablis, surrounded by its famous vineyards and with plenty of opportunities for wine testing. Continue on through the Serein Valley before heading west to Nitry. Arrive at the Auberge de la Beursaudiere, where you'll spend two nights, with dinner included in the traditional restaurant.
Head across country to medieval Noyers-sur-serein recognised as one of the most beautiful villages in France with it's half-timbered houses, cobbled streets with artisan wares, 12th century castle site, church and chapels.
Pedal to Cravant, then follow the towpath towards Auxerre and picnic on the banks of the Yonne. Head to the amazing Bailly wine cellars where Cremant sparkling wines are made, before returning to historic Auxerre, with its abbey, cathedral, shops and superb indoor and outdoor swimming complexes.
Please note that cycling helmets are compulsory in France for children under 12. As we are unable to provide these, we strongly recommend that you bring your own.
Please see our Planning you holiday page for full details.
During your holiday you stay at the following hotels. If you'd like to extend your time at any of these or, if you'd like to enhance your stay with an upgraded room, just let us know at the time of booking. If you'd like to keep your bikes with you for any extra nights we can arrange this for you for just £ per adult per day and £ per child per day.
NEARBY:This hotel was originally a maison bourgeoise until it was converted into a hotel by an ex-patissier! It has now been in Mme Ramise's family for over 45 years.
Room upgrades: Privilege Room.
The Privilege room has a very spacious bedroom with king size bed.
Extra nights: Please contact us for details.
NEARBY:The Relais St Vincent offers 15 stylish, comfortable rooms, with en suite bathrooms, television and telephone.
The Auberge de la Beursaudiere, formerly a farm building and before that a priory offers individually decorated rooms that take their name from traditional professions including La Coutiere (seamstress), La Dentelliere (lacemaker) and Maquignon (horse-dealer).
If you'd like to extend your trip with extra nights at the start or end, or if you'd like to arrange a stop off point en-route, then we recommend the following hotels.
The 4 star Le Senat is simply stunning! There are just 41 rooms, all stylishly furnished and a couple of suites with terraces, if you really fancy splashing out! All have satellite television, mini bar, air-conditioning, safe and hairdryer, plus Internet access.
NEARBY:The Hostellerie des Clos is a family run hotel in the heart of Chablis. The hotel is set in beautiful gardens, with terrace for breakfast or pre-dinner drinks. There is a cosy lounge and all the rooms are individually decorated across two buildings.
Room upgrades: Grand Confort Room, Superior Room or Duplex Room.
Grand Confort rooms offer the same facilities as the standard Confort rooms but are approximately 5m2 larger (24m2). Superior rooms offer the same facilities as the standard Confort rooms but are much larger (average size 53m2). Duplex rooms are over 2 floors with an approximate surface area of 90m2. They also have a separate lounge area and have direct access to the sauna.
Everyone who goes on a Headwater holiday will be emailed a link to our post-holiday questionnaire where they can give us an honest assessment of all aspects of their holiday - everything from how quickly we answer the phone to how clean the hotels were - plus an overall rating and comments about their holiday.
Any feedback collected is posted to our website, so that people can make an informed decision based on past experiences before heading off on holiday. We don’t edit the reviews, the only thing we do is proofread them and alter any typos, where necessary, to ensure they are easy to read for everyone. All reviews will be published (except in certain extreme circumstances), and a member of the Headwater team will respond to any constructive criticisms/comments under the reviews, at their discretion. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of our holidays, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.
This is our 5th Headwater cycling trip and the 3rd in France. Chablis Vineyards Cycling met expectations of a relaxing and interesting holiday with gentle rolling hills, farmland, windfarms with a lot of wine "caves" but very few vineyards (unlike Vaucluse Vineyard Cycling) and very quiet villages with very few opportunities to buy food or drinks along the way so you need to be well prepared before you set off. Richard was a good rep and kept in contact as required. We only tasted wine at Bailly Caves on the last day and it was a highlight. Other highlights were the day trip to Noyers sur Serein and the canal-side cycling on day 1 and the last day. Hotel Normandie and Relais St Vincent were very high quality and comfortable with air conditioning, which was a welcome relief after a hot day of cycling in low 30 degrees c each day in late August. However the Auberge de la Beaursaudiere at Nitry was a poor fit with this holiday with basic facilities, poor WI-FI, no air conditioning or even a fan. Because of this sub-standard accommodation we rate this holiday as good rather than excellent.
The French cuisine is supreme & the tour around the Chablis area was very satisfying & suites us. There was not a lot happening along the way as many small towns were very quiet - not easy to find a coffee on route. It was rather hot & the rooms not well air conditioned. These were not huge negatives as we still had a wonderful holiday & were well backed up by headwater. If you are looking for action then this holiday probably would not suit. However for us it was a pleasant experience & would recommend this tour for those looking for great food, good wine & relaxing quiet countryside.
Been travelling with Headwater for some years. Holiday was as good a ever: reps, hotels, route all excellent, but somehow seemed to get at cross-purposes with booking this year and there were minor problems and misunderstandings. Might be me, might be just one of those things or has there been a change of regime or system? Relais St Vincent outstandingly good.
Brilliant experience! Headwater has planned everything in great detail: routes, lovely boutique hotels, dinners. Most importantly, Helen went out of way to make sure I was comfortable throughout the holiday. She ensured that I had a perfect holiday , simply amazing!
The cycling was superb with a huge variety of scenery including vineyards,canals,beautiful villages and panoramic views. The weather was gorgeous and the routes were on quite country roads and canal paths with hardly any traffic. Our Reps Helen and Mike were fantastic and so helpful and informative we had some great laughs they were so friendly they made sure we were seated comfortably on our bikes and even changed saddles for Better comfort it was reassuring that we had excellent support on hand. We visited many vineyards in Chablis and mike and Helen collected the wine we bought. The food was delicious and the welcome in hotels were so friendly. Thank you Headwater and Mike And Helen for giving us a superb holiday
Bill & Heather.
Excellent booking staff and regional reps. Hotels and meals very comfortable with regional character. This part of rural France is very attractive, has many places of great interest, and above all, is wonderfully quiet.
Very Good overall, we enjoyed the rural sightseeing in this region and the opportunity to meet the local friendly people in the villages and the vineyards we visited. All accommodation was very good (with the exception of Ligny). Food was excellent with a wide variety in most cases. Planning of stops essential with shops closing during the day! Our tour guides, Helen & Mike, a pleasure to deal with and did their job very well. This was our first headwater holiday and we will certainly consider holidaying with them again. Declan & Marie (Ireland)
Very well organised, all our questions & queries dealt with, any requests for help dealt with promptly, gave us confidence that if we needed help it would quickly be there. Good local knowledge, well planned routes through lovely countryside. Excellent. Lovely helpful friendly reps. All the wine we purchased along the way made it safely back to base for us to take back home with us. No negative comments to make at all.
This was everything we had hoped it would be. Very relaxed. Great quality of hotels and food. Excellent scenic routes. Brilliant!
A genuine taste of traditional France
A great holiday, well organised and not as physically demanding as we imagined. Steve was a very knowledgeable and accommodating host. Please let him know that I was reunited with my wedding ring and that I think we found the hidden aircraft factory that he told us about.
great support right from time of booking, challenges such as French floods tackled proactively, very comfortable, civilised cycling
Good holiday, scenic routes and very pleasant towns and villages. Excellent support from local Headwater staff Stephen Miles - you are lucky to have such an experienced person on board.
A wonderfully relaxed holiday with broad open views and interest on the journey every day.
Exceeded our expectations, really enjoyable experience. Our rep, Ross, was always on hand, with advice even acting as a taxi service taking us to and from the local restaurant for evening meals and also to Vezelay for the day, nothing was too much trouble.
Will be looking forward to booking our next cycling holiday!
This holiday is an ideal introduction to Headwater. Rep, Ross Brown, was excellent: knew the area well, had very good relationships with local hotels, very helpful and inspired confidence. Hotel Normandie excellent urban base to begin the holiday. Relais St Vincent is a quite outstanding hotel, full of character, very comfortable, superbly run and offering excellent food in a fine dining room. Vermenton relaxed, informal and welcoming, and food at Accolay excellent. Varied and interesting route with places to visit and wonderful rides on fine towpaths beside the rover Yonne.
A great way of getting to know a small area of France and savouring local life. On a bike you see and hear things and also meet people that would pass you by if travelling by car.
An excellent and relaxed holiday made all the better by a very helpful and knowledgeable local representative, Ross Brown. The cycle routes along the canal and river paths especially on the final day, were delightful. Wine tasting and buying opportunities were frequent and fun and the wine collection service worked flawlessly.
Excellant holiday with one of the best travel reps we have come across .He put himself out to help us and nothing was too much trouble
Ross was great as a tour guide, and very helpful in pointing out places of note/interest. Countryside and views were glorious, and the villages were delightful. However, 2 things stuck out on this tour: This was a level 1 tour but there were several 1-plus hills on the route - i think that could be better explained; and most of the pretty villages we visited were empty of life, no people, no animals, no cafes/bars or facilities - i think that needs to be better explained too, as it was a disappointment to find them shuttered up. Auxerre was interesting, and Chablis and Vezelay very pretty with plenty to see and do, but not much in between. Our 2 nights with external dinners in Vermenton were great - superb choice of restaurants, and Ross was a very considerate driver, waiting for us to finish late on both occasions!
Excellent, good fun and good value.
Contacted Headwater at very short notice to arrange our cycling holiday and the help and advice given by holiday adviser was excellent [Karen Ross]. Cycling days easy apart from Ligny to Vermenton,mileage was perfectly manageable [31 miles] but have to admit to walking through village of Courgis [this is allowed as we are OAPs] and view was worth it. Would strongly recommend buying supplies as mentioned in the notes before starting out each day as there were no cafes open at all. Area was beautiful very picturesque and peaceful. Thoroughly enjoyed our cycling holiday again - this was our 7th Headwater Cycling Holiday and are already planning our 8th.
This was our first experience of a Headwater holiday and we'd certainly do another one. I was a bit apprehensive about the level of fitness required for the cycling, but it was easily manageable - although I'm glad I did some training beforehand. The bikes and routes were great - all we had to do was enjoy the scenery en route and get to the next destination. Loads of suggestions of things to do and places to visit - but no pressure to do anything. Bliss.
A very well organised holiday with outstanding tour manager, top quality bikes, excellent hotels with very high standard of cusine in a lovely area of France
Every detail of the holiday had been researched well which resulted in a complete and professional package. The routes, hotels and food were all excellent and from the first welcome by Ross a feeling of confidence and helpfulness was portrayed - all surpassed expectations.
Good bikes, variable accommodation. Good daily distances and accurate grading. Very willing but inexperienced rep. has the potential to be a very good rep but needs to get out cycling, driving or walking the routes and making his own notes.
A more relaxing and fun way to have a cycling holiday which is well organised from the beginning.
Well organised travel arrangements. Good overall accommodation. Welcoming and knowledgeable staff. Rep support very good and while not needed by ourselves we spoke to others who had been helped. Wine collection service tried and tested - it works! (Thank you, Ross).
In our experience (May 2014) finding an open cafe and 'facilities' was not always easy.
Next trip with Headwater is already booked! Enough said!
A good holiday with excellent cycles and this time a good rep/agent and his wife although we could have had more information on how to adjust the bikes if needed before we set off. Maps are poor and it is worth photocopying your own before leaving home to help you plan your trips. Route guidance is reasonable most days.
A wonderful week's escape. Just what we were looking for. Peaceful cycling in idyllic rural France.
Really enjoyable holiday with excellent routes worked out and plenty of scope for variation if you wanted to do a bit more. Lots of 'hidden gems' along the way with the notes signposting them really well. Really useful to have the pointers to cafes and restaurants along the route, or to know that a particular village had no bakery or the cafe was closed on Tuesdays! The bikes were incredibly comfortable and great to ride and having chosen the less strenuous holiday option, we found that we could manage them easily despite not having cycled any great distance for some years .
Please note we stayed in Chablis not Ligny so comments re that hotel relate to Chablis. That was to our advantage as Chablis a much better centre and the food at the hotel was superb. Keith and Judith were excellent reps. All in all a very good holiday.
NB For Relais St. Vincent above please Read Hostellerie des Clos, Chablis. A delightful holiday; beautiful scenery, lovely food; excellent accomodation and hospitality. The only weak link (by Headwater's high standards) is the Hotel Normandie, where the accomodation is average only and the staff businesslike rather than hospitable. Otherwise Keith and Judith are first-rate reps and his bikes are the most comfortable we've ever ridden. Mark and Alison at Vermenton and the staff at Chablis we all delightful and very attentive.
Very well organised from start to finish, Keith, our rep was excellent and very professional. Our cycling trip was absolutely brilliant couldn't fault it in any way.
The food which was included as half board was absolutely fabulous and we will recommend headwater to our friends.
You can be confident that our pricing includes all the standard requirements of your holiday and many additional extras. Always ensure that you are comparing like for like when booking your holiday.
This 6 night self-guided cycling holiday includes:
Hotel-to-hotel accommodation in a mix of and hotels
All continental breakfasts and 4 evening meals
Management by your local Headwater-appointed agent
GPS route directions and maps
Headwater navigation app
High quality bikes
Standard transfers at the start/end of the trip (if booking inclusive flights)
Luggage transfers between hotels
How to book:
We do not currently have departure dates and prices available on-line. The season may have ended for this tour, or we are still in the process of adding these details to our website. Please contact us for further details.
Please contact us for child prices.
Self-guided cycling Managed locally by Headwater appointed agent.
All continental breakfasts and 4 evening meals
It is possible to hire electric bikes for this holiday at a supplement of £100 per person. As these are available on a first come first served basis, we recommend early booking to avoid disappointment.
Between July 21 and Aug 6 you will stay in the 3* Hostellerie du Clos in Chablis rather than the 3* Relais de Saint Vincent in Ligny-Le-Chatel. This holiday may be adapted into a 4 night version
Transfers can be arranged at a supplement from Auxerre train station at 14:20 and back to Auxerre train station at 11:15.