Located to the south of the Côte-d’Or between Nuits-Saint-Georges and Dijon, the Côte Dijonnaise is a series of limestone forest combes topped with cliffs, grasslands and wooded plateaus overlooking the Grand cru vineyards of Burgundy. Protected by Natura 2000, a nature reserve spanning 2,100 hectares, the Côte Dijonnaise boasts exceptional ecological diversity tinged with both mountain and Mediterranean influences. The site is also characterised by its unique geology and a topography that was originally made up of shallow and pebbly soil. The combes of the Côte Dijonnaise were created by the erosion of the limestone plateau by springs that burrowed into the rock beneath the sheer cliffs. The combes are an open book on geological history, testifying in particular to the presence of a sea during the Jurassic period.
The Combe Lavaux - Jean Roland National Nature Reserve is located right in the heart of the Côte Dijonnaise. It spans some 510 hectares across the townships of Gevrey-Chambertin and Brochon. Known to botanists since the 17th century, the site was declared a national nature reserve in December 2004 because of its exceptionally rich variety of flora. With over 500 species of flowering plants and ferns representing 25% of Burgundy's total flora, this nature reserve offers a concentration of rare plants that is unique within the Côte-d’Or, with species native to both the mountains and the south, such as Athyllis montana, Veronica spicata L., Aster linosyris, Daphne alpina, Valeriana tuberosa, Stipa pennata, Scorzonera austriaca, Allium tuberosumand even a species that can’t be found anywhere else in the world: Biscutella divionensis.
The cliffs of Combe Lavaux and Brochon, which have long been frequented by climbing enthusiasts, are also home to a number of noteworthy animal species. The peregrine falcon often comes to the park to hunt or to nest. Two or three mated pairs of falcons move to the reserve each year. The dry grassland provides shelter to a number of rare animal and plant species. Certain reptiles, such as the green lizard and the grass snake, are fond of these dry, sunny areas peppered with bushes. Some species of bird, including the red-backed shrike, the woodlark and the European nightjar, also come to the park to find food or shelter when nesting.