Mâcon in Burgundy is a beautiful city surrounded by vineyards and châteaux.
Located in a renowned wine region, Mâcon was a river port during Gallo-Roman times as the River Saône passes through the city. Today, the river is home to a 15 hectare marina with 150 berths for small boats and yachts. Mâcon is a city of fine architecture and its religious buildings are some of its most notable attractions. The two cathedrals of St Vincent are each worth a look - the remnants of the old cathedral (Vieux Saint-Vincent) contains models and plans showing how the building evolved throughout the 11th to 15th centuries whilst the new cathedral (Nouvelle Eglise Saint-Vincent), built in the early 1800s, is a Neoclassical structure with some brilliant stained glass windows. The Eglise St Pierre is also not to be missed, a Romanesque style church that was built in the 19th century and whose two steeples dominate the city skyline. A local curiosity is the Maison de Bois whose entire facade is covered in wood and decorated with ribald statues of men, monkeys and masked figures. Located on the corner of the Place aux Herbes, the Maison de Bois is the oldest house in the city and is now home to a restaurant and bar. Inside the Hôtel-Dieu you'll discover the remarkable apothecary's shop, the Apothicairerie de Hôtel-Dieu, a wonderfully preserved 18th century wood-panelled room containing chemistry pots and pill boxes from the past.
Explore the history of the area at the Ursuline museum inside the former Ursuline convent which has a long history itself and holds collections of local archaeology, the story of life in the vineyards and art from the past 5 centuries. Uncover the life of Mâcon's most famous son, the Romantic poet and politician, Alphonse de Lamartine, with visits to the Lamartine museum and the Château de Lamartine which was the poet's home and contains his complete literary works. You can also follow the Lamartine route, a 50km walk through the countryside that inspired Lamartine. There are many routes for walkers and cyclists including a 117km green way and a 15km towpath along the river. Or, for something different that is fun for all the family, why not ride a donkey along the trails in the countryside from nearby Vergisson? Donkeys can be rented for half a day, a full day or longer. For a more sedate activity, take a river boat cruise, available during the summer, and pass under the Pont St Laurent through one of its 12 arches. Mâcon's most famous festival, the Eté Frappé festival, is a free art and music festival from June to August, during which the Crescent Jazz Club also holds its own mini-festival. A trip to this area is not complete without visiting a few vineyards and châteaux and the Château de Pierreclos, just 10 minutes from Mâcon, is one of the best and gives tours of its wine cellars as well as tastings of the 8 wines produced here.
You are sure to find some great souvenirs of your time in Mâcon from the city's market in Place aux Herbes from Tuesday to Saturday or at the many arts and crafts shops including jewellers, artisans, couture fashions, glassblowing and ceramics, and at Mâcon's antiques dealers. Snails are a delicacy everywhere in Burgundy but more local specialities include river fish such as trout, carp and pike, Bresse chicken - the only poultry in the world with AOC status, Charolais beef, and the yellow-crusted goat's cheese called the boutons de culottes. Desserts here are fantastic with the Bouchons Mâconnais (chocolate with Marc de Bourgnogne liqueur ), gaufrettes mâconnaises (rolled wafers with a vanilla and caramel aroma) and l'ideal Mâconnais (a cake made of meringue and filled with buttercream). Don't forget to enjoy your meal with the excellent Mâconnais wines made from Chardonnay grapes, especially the wines from Pouilly-Fuissé.
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