The Real Deal: Seven nights' accommodations, breakfast daily, and bike rental, from $1,099 per person—taxes included.
When: Aug. 30, Sept. 13, 20, 2008; add $40 for June 27, July 9, 2009.
The fine print: Taxes, breakfast daily, bike rental, and maps included. The $1,099 per person price breaks down to $880 paid in advance and a local cash payment of €140 that covers incidental costs and is due at the beginning of the trip (about $219 at press time). Based on single or double occupancy. Airfare is not included. U.S. citizens need a passport, but no visa is required. Group size is typically 12 to 16 people. Use trip reference code BY. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: No deadline; based on availability.
Contact: Adventure Center, 800/228-8747, adventurecenter.com.
Why it's a deal: The $1,099 rate is about $157 per person per night, and that includes your accommodations, bike rental, and breakfast. Plus, you'll have the benefit of a trip leader to advise and coordinate the rides. Adventure Center is able to negotiate low rates through relationships with various hotels. Also consider the time you're saving by reserving rooms at each stop throughout the tour in one booking process with Adventure Center—which is especially helpful during the busy high season, through September.
Trip details: Throughout the Backroads of Burgundy package, you'll bike an average of 27 miles per day, almost exclusively on asphalt roads. Adventure Center uses 18- or 21-speed hybrid bicycles, each outfitted with a pannier, a water-bottle holder, a lock, and a map holder.
Adventure Center works with a network of hotels and was unable to provide names of all the specific properties at press time, but throughout the trip you'll stay in accommodations similar to the Hotel de la Gare in Montbard, where you'll meet your group and spend the night.
Montbard is one of the largest towns along the Canal de Bourgogne. There are plenty of appealing restaurants nearby, along with the Musee des Beaux-arts de Montbard, which has a collection of paintings by regional artists.
The itinerary follows the canal, which was originally built as a route from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. The first bike foray will be to the area near L'Abbaye de Fontenay, founded in 1118 and one of the oldest Cistercian monasteries in Europe. The monastery (also a former paper mill) is now a World Heritage site, and the gardens have recently been redesigned.
Another bike excursion is to Semur-en-Auxois, a quaint fortified town with a maze of cobbled streets and picturesque homes. You'll stay overnight here, and there's an optional tour into Flavigny-sur-Ozerain or Alise-Ste-Reine, two other towns close by. You'll see market squares, châteaux, and Roman ruins during these bike rides.
Next you'll set off for two towns in the heart of Burgundy wine country, Pouilly-en-Auxois and Beaune. You'll have two days explore the villages by bike—and to treat yourself to some first-rate wine and cheese.
Summer is high season in France, so you'll see plenty of other tourists. Expect warm and sunny weather (temperatures in the mid-70s), with occasional thundershowers.
Getting there: This trip begins in Montbard and ends further south in Beaune. Montbard is easy to get to by train from de Gaulle airport in Paris (we found late-August train fares from $30 each way). The ride is about an hour and 10 minutes. For your return trip from Beaune, you can take a taxi or a local train to the station in Dijon and then hop a connecting train to the airport.
A recent Kayak search yielded these round-trip fares to Paris in late August: $887 from New York City (Aer Lingus), $1,175 from Chicago (Northwest), $1,221 from Atlanta (Northwest), $1,258 from Dallas (Lufthansa), $1,391 from Seattle (Lufthansa), and $1,502 from L.A. (Aer Lingus).
For more tips on what to do, visit the country's official tourism site.