Out & About In Beaune

View from room at Le Cep in Beaune. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

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.

Courtyard of Hotel de Dieu in Beaune, France with patterned roof tiles. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

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.

Patterned roof tiles at Hotel de Dieu in Beaune. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Wine Tasting In Bourgogne

Wine tour guide explains Burgundy vineyard classifications and wine appellations. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

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!)

Explanation of vineyard and wine classifications in Burgundy. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

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.

Romanee Conti vineyard in Bourgogne. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

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.

Private wine tasting in Bourgogne at Chateau de Mersault. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

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.

Winery tour and wine tasting in Bourgogne at Chateau de Mersault in Burgundy. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

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.

Overlooking Clos Vougeot vineyard and chateau in Bourgogne France. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

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.)

Traditional patterned tile roof near Nuits-Saint-George France. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

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.

Travel Outfits

Susan B. of une femme d'un certain age wearing a black jacket and pants, rust top in Beaune, France.

Jacket (similar) | Top | Necklace | Bag | Pants (similar) | Sandals (similar)

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.

Susan B of une femme d'un certain age wears jeans, a white shirt and sandals for sightseeing in Beaune.

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!)

Shirt (similar) | Necklace | Necklace | Tank | Jeans | Bag | Sandals (similar)

Keep Your Cool In Linen

Where To Eat In Beaune

Evening light on a cobblestone street in Beaune, France. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

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.

Mackerel and pea salad from L'Expression in Beaune. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

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!!

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  1. Sounds like you’re having a great time!
    Hotels and AirBnB hosts are great for restaurant recommendations. Also shop owners (especially wine shops), if you happen to strike up a conversation. Basically anything except TripAdvisor and Yelp. My favorite local restaurant also isn’t online, and you have to reserve because it’s so popular. That tells you something.
    Good luck with the heat wave. I just came in from a run and it isn’t too bad here in the south. We have lots of wind, which keeps it comfortable.

  2. We ate at La Ciboulette a few years ago and it was great then, obviously they’re doing something right. Thanks for some lovely memories of Beaune.

  3. We always wing it. Sometimes we choose the restaurants as we are out and about, reading menus in the windows as we go (my foreign language skills are not up to phone reservations)and we have taken suggestions from random strangers with whom we have struck up conversation. We have a preference for small family owned inns and hotels when we can find them, and they usually have suggstions for small independent restaurants. But some of our best suggestions have come from the doormen. Not the concierge: they too often suggest the palces they believe American tourists will prefer, or places with whom they have “arrangements”, but ask a doorman what their favorite place in the neighborhood is, and you are likely to have a great “local” experience.

  4. We wing it. We get suggestions from staff or other people we meet.
    It looks like you are having a wonderful time. Thanks for sharing!

  5. BTW, great piece in The NY Times Travel from yesterday about Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ first trip to Paris when she was a 20 years old student in the Smith program. The author traces her steps and documents the way that year changed Jackie’s life. Seems like a fun way to see the city. Can’t wait to see the posts from a hot Paris!

    1. Jacqueline Bouvier was of French origin, of course. I thought, given the Québécois presence in New England, that she was of Québécois or Acadian origin, but it seems her ancestors arrived directly from France.

      Love the “hot” tones in the top, and such a linen shirt is a lifesaver in heat. Today I saw many people with terrible burns, as it is hot here after a horrific icy winter and a dismal spring. I’m very far from blonde, but we all have to watch out. I was wearing red and pinkish Indian cotton shirt over a sleeveless cotton summer dress, fine black and grey stripes.

      Hôtel-Dieu in French, also les Hospices in this case. Our oldest hospitals in Montréal and Québec also bore that name.

      It is unfortunate that one must spend more for less heavy and meat-heavy food. That is changing, even in places that honour tradition. Pear poached in wine (red or white) is a most reasonable treat.

  6. Off to Paris for 17 days in six weeks and make the heat wave go away, please! Looking forward to your posts. My friend who is going with me is gluten allergic and vegetarian but her last trip to Paris, found lots of bakeries that offered GF now. My mouth is watering looking at your food pictures.

  7. You look fabulous as usual.
    I have fond memories of a day spent in Beaune a couple of years ago. It was in June and quite hot as well. Hope you have a room with ac in Paris. Looking forward to your experiences there

  8. Hi, I didn’t see the blue tee you’re wearing in your packing wardrobe. Are you buying more clothes as you go. Just wondering because we’re going to Normandy & Paris in September and I’m trying to pack sparingly. Your photos are beautiful.

    1. Hi Barbara, that’s one of the silk tanks that I usually only wear as a base layer, so consider “underpinnings” and don’t usually count as part of my 15 pieces. But in the heat, I’ll wear an open shirt over it.

  9. Our long time guide and friend in France explained it to us this way. If the place looks too cute, has a sign out front that says “Restaurant” or photos or lamination on the menu……its for tourists. The best places look nondescript and are a little off the beaten path and are favored by locals.

  10. I love your photos. They take me back to a very special trip my late husband and I took to the region a couple of decades ago. And I, too, love learning about the geology of a region. I hope the Paris heat doesn’t overwhelm you. At least, I’m sure you have the wardrobe for it.

  11. Love the photos and details of your trip, makes me want to plan for Burgundy on our next big trip. Maybe a “Burgundy and Bourdeaux” theme would be fun. Clos de Vougeot is one of my all-time favorite wines, even though I’ve only tasted it once or twice. Can’t wait to read about your Paris adventures!

  12. We usually wing it with restaurants; last year we got a great recommendation from the gondolier on our cheesy touristy (but fun) gondola ride in Venice. We were just back there last week and returned to the same restaurant, plus got some more good recommendations from the desk clerk.