Chalon is a sizeable port and bustling town on a broad meander of the Saône. Its old riverside quarter has an easy charm, and the town itself makes a cheap and cheerful base for exploring the more expensive areas of the Côte d’Or.
The highlight of the old town, set just back from the river, is the lively place St-Vincent, where you can sit outside a café and admire the twin towers of the Romanesque cathedral, surrounded by medieval timber-framed houses. The Saône quays, meanwhile, provide some nice, though not always shaded, walking opportunities.
You may be tempted to visit Chalon during the pre-Lent carnival (Feb or March), which features a parade of giant masks and a confetti battle, or for one of the most remarkable festivals in Burgundy, the three-day Montgolifiades which has a display and a race of dozens of multicoloured hot-air balloons, it take place in the last weekend of May (w montgolfiades71.com). As most of the sponsors are wine producers, the event is a great excuse to drink and be merry.