We’ve had a fabulous time in Beaune! We enjoyed some superb food and wine, did a little shopping, and lots of exploring. Today we’re off to Paris (and some serious HEAT) but here’s a little recap of our weekend in Beaune.
The spire we see outside our window is the Hotel de Dieu, which was built in the 15th Century as a charitable hospital. If you’re visiting Beaune, I recommend taking a tour. (We did the self-tour with an audio guide, which took about an hour.) It’s quite interesting from a historical perspective, and also provides an opportunity to see a stunning example of the patterned roof tiles that are a traditional feature of buildings in the Bourgogne region.
Wine Tasting In Bourgogne
We’d booked a winery tour with Bourgogne Gold Tour for Saturday. Our guide Fabien picked us up at 9:30. First stop: a spot overlooking vineyards near Beaune for an overview of the Bourgogne wine region and classifications. Above, Fabien explains some of the geological history that makes this region so unique. (Being a geology geek, I loved this!)
The “appellation” system is very strictly controlled, and very complicated. It determines how wines are named and sold, and at the upper levels (Premier Cru and Grand Cru), pinpoints the small plot of vineyard where the grapes were grown.
Grapes from this vineyard, Romanee Conti (which is only a small section of the vines you see above) produce the most expensive wines in the world. Because of the geology mentioned above, sometimes differences in the soil (even just a few meters apart), can result in very different wines, even with the same grapes.
This was demonstrated when we tasted some Premier Cru white wines at Chateau de Mersault. Two batches of Chardonnay grapes grown on plots almost adjacent to each other: same vintage, same winemaker, but resulting in two very different expressions.
We also toured les caves at the wineries we visited. Some of the sections of this cave at Chateau de Mersault date back to the 12th century.
Above, a beautiful vista overlooking Clos de Vougeot, (which we visited briefly last year). This is one of the oldest vineyards/wineries in the area, originally a monastery. (Prior to the French Revolution, almost all of the winemaking was done by religious orders.)
Our last stop was a visit with a very small winemaker…a one-man operation. His wines were excellent! His home also has the patterned tile roof that is traditional to the region. He told us the main part of this house dates back to the 15th or 16th century (I can’t remember which at the moment).
The tour was very enjoyable, informative, and well-paced. We enjoyed private tastings of some exceptional wines, and the background information helped contextualize the experience. Fabien was a superb guide, very knowledgable and personable.
The weather was still coolish on Saturday evening when I wore this to dinner. Both the lantern pants and this gauzy top have been getting a lot of wear so far. I was glad for the jacket, and was actually a little chilly on the walk back to the hotel.
This white linen shirt (similar) was the “Wild Card” piece that I added at the last minute, and I think it was a good call. Temperatures started to climb yesterday, and this outfit was comfortable for a day of exploring around town. (This shirt is several years old, and I wear it often during warmer months. It’s held up quite well!)
Keep Your Cool In Linen
Where To Eat In Beaune
We’ve had some wonderful food in Beaune! Be warned, many of the traditional dishes are very meat-centric and can be a bit on the rich side. I’ve had to learn to order sparingly and pace myself. Of course, with our short stay we only had a chance to try a few of the hundreds of restaurants and cafes here.
Ma Cuisine. It’s casual and convivial, and one gets the sense the dishes are “Bourgogne comfort food.” Very nice wine list, and very reasonable!
La Cibolette. Lighter fare (which was welcome), a relaxed-but-stylish atmosphere (though not someplace I’d show up in shorts and a tee shirt). My smoked salmon starter was arranged on the plate like the petals of a rose, and was scrumptious. And though I usually skip dessert, I’d ordered the “formule” (entrée, plat, dessert) so went with the pear poached in red wine which was Out. Of. This. World.
L’Expression. They seem to have NO online presence whatsoever, but you can call 03 80 80 05 89 to reserve. The hotel front desk recommended this one, and I heartily second. From the mackerel and pea starter (above), to the chocolate mousse, everything was amazing, and not too much food. Lovely ingredients, beautifully prepared, and a friendly and attentive staff. An outstanding wine list, too!
Do you research restaurants ahead when you travel, or wing it once you arrive?
Next stop, Paris!!