BEFORE YOU GO: TRAVELERS' TIPS
Many foreign and especially American visitors to France stick to Paris, while sometimes adding a side trip to Provence in the south, or to Normandy for its proximity to the capital. But Burgundy is near, too, and while it may not have the stunning postcard-perfect attraction of Normandy's Mont Saint Michel or the Loire Valley's well-known chateaux, the serenity, beauty, and history it offers are well worth a few days.
The best way to see the region is by car. If you're coming from the United States, for example, reserve your car for a Paris pickup before you leave home - it's much cheaper. Take the A6 out of Paris toward Dijon and Lyon, and voilia: A bit over an hour later a highway sign announces, ``Vous etes en Bourgogne'' (You are in Burgundy).
Accommodations range from five-star chateaux to rooms-to-let on farms. If you're up for a little less comfort but a warm reception, homemade jellies at breakfast, and a glimpse of French country life, there's no substitute for the farm. Rural accommodations are announced by small roadside signs for ``chambre dte'' or ``Gite rural.'' The latter often indicates larger rooms and membership in a regional tourist organization.
If you're leery of the impromptu and want to book in advance, start with the regional tourism bureau: Comite Regional du Tourisme de Bourgogne, BP 1602, 21035 Dijon CEDEX, France, or any number of guidebooks available on Burgundy.
And if your heart, like ours, is now set on the Vallee du Cousin, here's one address: Hostellerie du Moulin des Ruats, 89200 Avallon, France. (Rooms about $70 for three). But let's keep that hidden little piece of France our secret, OK?