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France’s stunning massif in Burgundy — exploring the Morvan by bike

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France’s stunning massif in Burgundy — exploring the Morvan by bike

Bike Touring Collection by Vincent Reboul

4

Tours

18:32 h

166 mi

13,200 ft

This Collection opens up the Morvan Regional Nature Park to you, the granite heart of chalky Burgundy, over four stages.

Burgundy mainly attracts wine lovers, but few know that the vineyards occupy a tiny part of the region’s territory and that it is composed in large part of beautiful forests and places of preserved nature where you can recharge your batteries.

As the Morvan has no real industry, the region has long supplied Paris with firewood, transported by river. It’s a territory that remains a little frozen in time and offers a blend of quietness and authenticity.

Charming towns, magnificent castles, an agricultural tradition that has shaped the forested, bocage landscape, numerous reservoirs, and unmissable historical and spiritual sites are revealed to you along these four stages.

Autun is a town where life is good, and I’ve deliberately chosen it as the starting and finishing point so you have plenty of time to discover all its facets.

The town of Saulieu, where you will arrive at the end of the third stage, is the ideal place to discover Burgundy’s exquisite gastronomy.

The average stage length is no more than 70 kilometres (44 mi), so you can explore the surrounding area at your leisure. The first stage passes through the highest point of the Morvan, the Col du Haut-Folin, at about 830 metres (2,723 ft), and is the only stage with a significant elevation gain.

It’s very easy to get to the starting point of this Collection by train or bus. Dijon, the capital of Burgundy, serves Autun several times a day. The first stage starts from Autun’s SNCF station.

The Morvan massif is known for its somewhat harsh microclimate, so be sure to bring waterproofs, especially in the cooler seasons. The roads are passable all year round and its proximity to Paris makes it an easy place to get to.

The Morvan is a land of life and solid friendship. Jim Harrison, the author of Dalva, Legends of Autumn, and An American Odyssey, understood this implicitly. The poet of the great American spaces thought of France, and in particular the Morvan area, as a special place. Come and see the poetry of the landscape for yourself.

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
    Difficult
    05:15
    43.6 mi
    8.3 mph
    4,725 ft
    3,975 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This first stage of a four-day excursion in the Morvan regional natural park leaves from the town of Autun to that of Château-Chinon.Autun is a town steeped in history, which has a rich medieval and Gallo-Roman past. It also has a Roman theater and the most beautiful cathedral in the whole region. The latter has uniquely crafted Romanesque capitals that are worth a visit.

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  • Difficult
    04:10
    40.1 mi
    9.6 mph
    2,800 ft
    3,600 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Leaving Château-Chinon, you go back to the north of the Morvan regional park with Vézelay for tonight's stage. The village overlooking the valley is famous for its basilica located at the top of its main street.One of the starting points of the Saint Jacques de Compostela trail called “the Vézelay route” starts from the basilica, which is to say its importance within Christendom.

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  • Difficult
    04:21
    37.0 mi
    8.5 mph
    2,875 ft
    1,975 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    For this third day, I recommend a stop at the Château de Chastellux. The castle is private and it is the members of the family who take care of the visit.Today's day shouldn't pose any particular difficulty. If you have a little time in front of you, do not hesitate to bathe in the very pretty lake of Saint-Agnan located at kilometer forty-four of the course.

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  • Difficult
    04:45
    45.5 mi
    9.6 mph
    2,775 ft
    3,350 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    For this last day of cycling around the Massif du Morvan, you will return this evening to Autun, your starting point.The Gouloux jump, a very pretty waterfall will brighten up your day. You have to walk a little over a kilometer by taking a forest path to get to this natural site. A car park adjacent to the road …

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    4
  • Distance
    166 mi
  • Duration
    18:32 h
  • Elevation
    13,200 ft

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France’s stunning massif in Burgundy — exploring the Morvan by bike