The Saône valley south from Chalon-sur-Saône via Tournus all the way to Mâcon is prosperous and modern, nourished by tourism, industry (especially metal-working), and the wine trade. But turn your back on the river and head west and you immediately enter a different Burgundy, full of hilly pastures and woodland. This country is best known for its produce: the white wines of the Mâconnais are justly renowned, and the handsome white cattle that luxuriate in the green fields of the Charollais are an obvious sign that this is serious beef territory.
In the past, the region was famed for its religious institutions; almost every village clusters under the tower of a Romanesque church, spawned by the authority of the great abbey at Cluny. Many large and powerful abbeys were established in the eleventh and twelfth centuries under the aegis of Cluny.