Cycling France’s First Greenway in Burgundy

It’s hard to believe that my trip is almost over.  I have one more route to explore, the greenway from the lovely town of Chalon-sur-Saone to the gates of Macon. This greenway is quite special. It’s the first car-free cycle path in France.  Introduced in 1997, this greenway became the standard for other car-free cycle paths in France and Europe. From the 14th century chateau in Givry to the Cote Chalonnaise vineyards to medieval Cluny and its Benedictine abbey, to the supurb Renaissance chateau at Cormatin, this route has something for everyone, and is bursting with enough Burgundian history, culture and gastronomic delights to savor for days.

This greenway is very popular and in late August, the route is filled with cyclists of all ages and lots of families with children.  The car-free cycling path is a perfect choice for parents with kids of all ages.  Kids especially love the fortified houses and ramparts in medieval Saint-Genoux-le-National, the medieval castle in Berze-le-Chatel, the 1.6km tunnel (longest voie verte tunnel in all of Europe) in Le Bois Clair and the Musee du Velo and the castle at Cormatin.  The prehistoric rock of Soutre provides a perfect backdrop for a snack or lunch.  There is so much to see and experience in this area that you could easily spend several days exploring. One day just wasn’t even close to enough time.

The route is perfectly maintained and sign-posted.  Picnic areas, restaurants, cafes, markets and hotels are plentiful along the route, making it easy to cycle for the day, weekend or overnight.  The route is easily accessible by train from Beaune where you can rent bicycles from Bourgogne Randonnees.  The greenway is also easy to access from both the Canal du Center and the Vineyard Trail.  For additional information on the greenway and support services along the route, visit Burgundy By Bike.

In addition to this route with 74km of beautiful car-free bike trails, there are also more than 20 loop rides in the area that enable you to explore the nooks and crannies of this incredibly diverse area.  You can get information on these other routes at Saone-et-Loire Tourism.

Posted by Maggie LaCoste

I love the adventure and unpredictability of experiencing France by bike. Cycling in France is the ultimate slow travel adventure, an opportunity to see it through the back door in a way few tourists experience. One week on a bike in France and life takes on a different meaning! I created Experience France By Bike to inspire recreational cyclists to visit France the slow bike, and to be the best source of information for planning the perfect bicycling adventure. I encourage readers to embrace the uncertainty of the road ahead and to take the path less traveled, exploring roads, towns and villages that you would never experience traveling by car.