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A short drive south of the capital city of Burgundy, Dijon, is Beaune – an ancient town encircled by medieval ramparts, famed for its significant production of Burgundian wines. It’s relatively compact and manageable, easy to explore on foot or bike. Still possessing the regal sheen of the Burgundy dukes who resided here 700 years ago, it’s very pretty, well preserved, and well suited to a weekend away. The town offers several excellent restaurants to accompany the famous local wine, as well as a number of charming hotels.

This article is helpful to understand the local wine – I far prefer the whites. The Cremant sparkling wine is worth seeking out. We liked staying in town (very walkable) and biking to everything else – the area is compact enough to skip the car entirely.

Stay at 

  • ***La Maison du Colombier was perfect – great, relatively quiet location, beautifully restored room (with a kitchenette) in a 15th century building. We’ve stayed in room #4, at the top of the tower, which has views over the city. #3 is similar, with a bit less light.
  • L’Hotel de Beaune is a high-end, very central option. Restaurant looked good too.
  • Cote Rampart is a hidden find for longer stays and groups.

Food

Reserve in advance! We had no luck with walk-up dining.

  • **Le Cellier Volnaysien in Volnay: within reasonable biking distance (and a very pretty ride), this restaurant was pretty solid, in an attractive village and courtyard. 
  • **La Maison du Colombier: Up-and-coming chef, friendly staff, outdoor patio (only open Mon-Fri for dinner). On our most recent trip they’ve switched to only serving meals indoors, with drinks outside. Food is semi-sharable, small plates, well executed.
  • *Garum: pretty patio setting, but the menu was ambitiously odd, limited, and didn’t quite come together. 
  • *Les Chambres de l’Imprimerie: a very hip (think Brooklyn industrial) hotel with an attached cafe. While I wouldn’t stay here, this is one of the only places in town to have a sit-down breakfast.
  • Bissoh (Japanese food) & the *Publican Bar have relatively hidden patios that overlook the river and town moat – an unusual perspective. (The Publican Bar is more dive than destination, lacking much enthusiasm for people who care about wine.)
  • Other places that looked appealing to try next time: le P’tit Paradis, La Dilettante (especially cute, looked very popular). Le Benaton was a very high end option (menu looked very good). Les Popiettes comes recommended. Ma Cuisine has good reviews, as does Caves Madeleine.
  • A friend recommends Le Soufflot in Meursault: was nice for finer dining – http://www.restaurant-meursault.fr/
  • **La Ferme de la Ruchotte is about 25 minutes outside of Beaune, on an actual farm (as the name suggests). The food was wonderful, with many of the ingredients directly from the property, and the decorations have a heavy metal theme, with lots of concert photos.

Activities

  • ***Château de Savigny-lès-Beaune: Airplanes! Abarths! Vintage motorcycles! This castle dates back to 1340 and lies in the Burgundian countryside, in the heart of the Côte de Beaune. It doubles as a wine estate with approximately 27 hectares of vineyards and, what’s more, there are nine museums here to discover, including a collection of motorcycles, Abarth racing cars and one of the largest private collections of fighter jets. Definitely a bit rundown, but we really liked it. 
    • Just outside, the *Restaurant Aux Tourneaux was just okay. I wouldn’t return. 
    • **Le Soleil is a tasteful wine bar with delicious snacks (not to be confused with a restaurant with drinks). A lovely place to spend a nice afternoon sampling different wines. As a meal, with non-drinkers, it dragged on too long (4 appetizers presented as four courses), and I left hungry.
    • Next time try Restaurant Le Morgan, which looked very local and cute.
    • If you find yourself with someone who doesn’t like vehicles, the town walk (cleared marked with triangles on the ground) is pleasant enough, a 1 hr wander through the neighborhoods.
  • Fallot Mustard Mill: the tour looks to be a big destination (very crowded), we skipped. Worth stopping by the gift shop though, large collection of flavors you can’t find in stores.
  • **Hospices de Beaune: Founded in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin, the Hospices de Beaune, or Hôtel-Dieu, once served as a charitable refuge for the poor. Today it serves as a museum and architectural marvel, its glazed tile roof perhaps the most captivating aspect of the building. Besides the pharmacy, highlights include the ornately decorated hangar-like treatment hall, an art gallery featuring Rogier van der Weyden’s apocalyptic 15th-century multipanel painting of the Last Judgment and a shop selling much-sought wines from the institution’s vineyards. This was really interesting, and can get very crowded and have long lines. Reserve in advance or go early/late.
  • **Saturday’s Market: the public market covers a fair amount of the town. It’s a typical large French market, heavy on produce and meats, smaller antique and clothing sections. Roughly 8 am – 2 pm.
  • **Walk the Ramparts: A stroll along the ancient ramparts that surround the city center offers a different perspective of Beaune. Oddly you don’t really notice the ramparts until you’re on them.
  • **City Light Show: we loved this. After dark, there are light shows all over the city, on the major buildings and around the entire perimeter ring.

Wine Tasting

  • **Marché aux Vins: In a former medieval church, Beaune’s Marché aux Vins (wine market) is a key stop for oenophiles eager to worship local history and vintages, thanks to tasting tours. This was fine, but I think you’d get as much history and probably better wine at some of the other in-town producers: Joseph Drouhin, Louis Jadot, and Bouchard Père et fils (and many more).

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