Capital of the Burgundy wines

Hôtel Dieu © F.Vauban / CDT21
In the heart of the Burgundy vineyards, Beaune is not only a destination for wine lovers who want to discover the region vintages. It is also a beautiful city endowed with a rich historic heritage including an outstanding medieval hospital.

[ Practical ]

Getting there
- By road
310 km from Paris on autoroute A6
- By train
TGV from Paris Gare de Lyon to Dijon, then TER till Beaune. Duration of the journey : 2 h 25.
- Hotels
Hôtel Le Cep
Hôtel de la Poste
Hôtel des Remparts
Hôtel Belle Epoque
Hôtel Central
L’Auberge Bourguignone
Hameau du Barboron in Savigny-les-Beaune
- Bed and breakfast
Les Jardins de Loïs
Octroi Saint-Jacques
Sous le Baldaquin
Le Relais
Caveau des Arches
Le Cheval Blanc
Le Jardin des Remparts
Le Cheval Noir
Le Benaton
L’Auberge Bourguignone
Wine bars
La Part des anges
Le Bistrot Bourguignon
Cellar visits and wine tasting
Caves des Cordeliers
Caves de la Reine Pédauque
Caves Patriarche
Wine Auction Sale
2020 edition takes place on Sunday November 15th at 2.30 pm.
Tasting of the wines on sale Saturday 14th from 8.30 am to 11.30 am and from 2 pm to 4.30 pm, Sunday 15th from 8.30 am to 11.30 am. Admission : 18 rue Louis Véry. Price : €15.
Package stays
Promenades en France offers tailor made stays including accommodation, visits, wine tasting, mountain bike and jeep tours,…
Tel : 0380262212,
The Tourist Office also sells various stays.
Beaune Tourist Office
Tel : 0380262130
All Burgundy wines enthusiasts have heard about Beaune. This little town of 20 000 inhabitants is indeed nested right in the middle of the region vineyards. All around spreads the Côte de Beaune where are produced worldwide known great white and red wines such as Pommard, Volnay, Meursault, Corton and Chassagne-Montrachet. To the North East, only 15 km away begins the Côte de Nuits and its prestigious red appellations : Vosne-Rosmanée, Chambolle Musigny, Nuits Saint Georges, Chambertin,..

Côtes de Nuits © T.Joly
 Wine auction sale
This geographical situation makes of Beaune the unchallenged capital of the Burgundy vineyard and several big wine traders have their headquarters here : Bouchard, Drouhin,… To really get to understand the importance of wine in the town history and economy one must go there the third weekend of November on the occasion of the Hospices de Beaune Wine Auction, a civil institution that groups the Hôtel Dieu and three modern hospitals. Taking place since 1859, this event attracts buyers from all over the world and serve as a reference to the price of Burgundy wines. The Hospices indeed own since centuries some of the area best vineyards. As soon as it was founded, in the 15th century, noblemen and rich landowners started to donate vineyards to finance its activities, and then it never stopped. Thus, the Hospices possess now more than 60 ha of vineyards.

Wine auction sale © JM.Schwartz/CDT21
 Wine tasting
According to the year, the auction sale brings back from 1.83 to more than 14 millions Euros. It depends on the volume and the quality of the production, and on the reached prices. In 2018, 828 barrels (known as pieces) each containing 228 litres – 631 of red wines and 197 of white – were auctioned for the record sum of 14.19 millions Euros.
But this weekend is not limited to this sale conducted by Christie’s and scheduled at 2.30 pm on Sunday in the old covered market. On Saturday, all the wines put on sale the following day can be tasted in the Hospice cellars. The waiting line is often so long that some people get a little bit annoyed. However, once inside the atmosphere warms up quickly to soon become very hearty while glasses after glasses get empty.
And that’s not all. All around the town as well as in the vicinity numerous wine tasting are going on at traders’ and at wineries. In addition, from Friday to Sunday the streets and the squares become the stage of various events: a fun fair, a bottle opening competition, a market offering gastronomic specialties and crafts, concerts, a semi-marathon, streets parades with brass bands and brotherhoods.

Hôtel Dieu © F.Vauban / CDT21
 One of France most beautiful monument
Besides, a week earlier, the Côte d’Or Viticultural Committee organizes at the town Palais des Congrès an exhibition called the Great Burgundy Wines Festival where 1 500 winemakers offer you to taste more than 10 000 bottles from 3 000 different vintages.
But Beaune is an interesting destination at any time of the year. It is a charming city that has countless architectural teasures hidden behind its well preserved ramparts including watchtowers and imposing turrets. The highlight of this heritage is the Hôtel Dieu, a hospital founded in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin, chancellor of the Duke of Burgundy Philippe the Good. It’s one of France most beautiful monuments. Built in a gothic style mingling Burgundian and Flemish influences, it unveils all its splendour from its inner courtyard. An elegant wooden gallery resting on fine small columns runs along the buildings at the level of the 1st floor. As for the roof, pierced with a double row of attic windows surmounted by lead weather vanes, it is covered with multicolored varnished tiles composing geometrical figures.

Beaune © CDT 21
 Collection of works of art
And the interior is as gorgeous. Particularly the Grande Salle, named “Chambre des Pôvres” (the Poor’s Room), adorned with polychrome beams where are still lined up the four-poster beds that hosted the sick persons. Moreover, a museum presents a beautiful collection of works of art which once decorated the building, for instance a magnificent polyptych of Roger Van der Weyden : the Last Judgment. One of the masterpieces of the 15th century Flemish painting. So, it’s not astonishing that the 19th century famous architect Viollet-le-Duc exclaimed “This hospital makes you want to get sick in Beaune”.
A beautiful Romanesque and gothic church, the basilica Notre-Dame also houses a major work of art. A silk and woolen tapestry divided into five panels depicting the life of the Virgo, which was realized at the turn of the Middle Ages and Renaissance eras.

Hôtel des Ducs de Bourgogne © CDT21
 Wine museum
In addition numerous 15th, 16th and 17th century houses are visible in the city centre including the gothic Hotel de Rochepot. It stands on square Monge where a statue honors the memory of this famous mathematician born in Beaune in the 18th century and who founded the Polytechnic school. Another remarkable building, the former mansion of the Dukes of Burgundy (Hôtel des Ducs de Bourgogne) hosts today the Musée des Vins de Bourgogne. It is the right place to learn everything about the vineyards history and cultivation in the region. But there are more festive options. Several wine traders offer tours around magnificent hundred years old vaulted cellars punctuated with wine tasting. Always in the field of gastronomy, it’s also interesting to visit the Fallot mustard-maker. It is the last company using traditional manufacturing methods to produce mustard and it reveals all the secrets of this local specialty.

Côtes de Nuits © T.Joly
 Around the vineyards
But a stay in Beaune wouldn’t be complete without a trip around the vineyards. Covering plains and hillsides they compose sceneries enjoyable to watch at any season. In summer, when bunches of grapes mature under the sun. In autumn when vine leaves take golden colors. In winter, when the workers burn vine shoots in the vineyards. There are numerous roads and paths allowing you to explore the surroundings by car, by foot, or, to get away of the beaten track, by mountain bike or on board of a Willis jeep. You can also choose to go to the summit of the Montagne de Beaune that offers a nice viewpoint both over the countryside and the town, or to get to the picturesque nearby village of Savigny-les-Beaune. Here a beautiful 14th century castle houses collections cars races, motorcycles and even jet fighters.

September 21, 2020
Thierry Joly