Travellers hurrying south on the Autoroute du Soleil will recognise the Yonne Valley by the acres of vineyards stretching out on either side of the highway. Those who choose the more leisurely N6 following the river which gives the department its name, will begin to discover Yonne's secrets and find it hard to leave this land of green pastures and rolling hills, forests, rivers, lakes and canals, rich in history and part of a region which produces some of the world's greatest wines and most prestigious cuisine. Burgundy wines such as Yonne's dry white Chablis are justly world famous and visiting enthusiasts will find no shortage of wine trails and tastings.
In Yonne, you can also tour a pre-historic cave at Arcy-sur-Cure, float in a balloon or visit a chateau. Chateau de Tanlay, close to Tonerre and Chateau de Saint-Fargeau, are particularly worth a visit. Practically every village has a Romanesque church and the beautiful basilica of Saint Madeleine in Yonne's capital, Vezelay, is deservedly a tourist attraction in this beautiful hill-top town packed with art galleries, and antique and book shops.
The variety of Yonne's landscape lends itself to all kinds of leisure activities. The forested 'black mountains' of the Morvan Regional Natural Park extending into southern Yonne are actually wooded hills. Horse trekking and hiking trails abound and the fast streams in narrow gorges are excellent for fishing and canoeing. For more exhilarating pastimes, try white water rafting and rock climbing around Les Rochers du Saussois.
Yonne also boasts some of France's prettiest waterways and less strenuous would be a day cruising on the Burgundy Canal or the lovely Canal du Nivernais through pretty villages and little towns. Stop at Auxerre for a stroll around its cobbled streets lined with picturesque half-timbered houses, fine cathedral and solar clock tower, or picnic by a lock and feast on Morvan ham, the fabulous cherries which grow amongst vines near Irancy and the local sparkling wine - Cremant de Bourgogne.
From Yonne you can even take a trip to Paris - it's less than an hour and a half by car.