Our trip to Beaune, France was riddled with rain, but that couldn’t put a damper on our good time. I have always felt that the French have an appreciation for the best things in life; a way of elevating the littlest thing from the mundane, so that no basic activity is taken for granted. That feeling heightened a little more while we traveled through Burgundy. We always knew there was such an appreciation for the act of making and tasting wine in this region of the world, but the fact is that everything else is meticulously cared for as well. The food is divine, the old-world architecture is cared for as if it was built yesterday, the greenery is manicured to perfection; all so that you can enjoy every moment of walking down the street for your morning baguette.
We tasted at 3 wineries in Beaune, however I did not get pictures of them because it was mostly inappropriate/too dark. These wineries are not tourist wineries like the ones we have here in Napa. They are solely for the production of wine, and do not have elaborate tasting areas and over the top art to confuse you into liking their product. They don’t need to. The history of the region and the terroir of the vineyards is enough. We tasted at Louis Jadot which is a large operation, Alex Gambal which is very very small, and Joseph Drouhin which is the oldest wine producer in Beaune and their caves were built by monks in the 4th century and twist around under the old Hospital and Church in the city. I would recommend all three for a very diverse experience.
Beaune itself was really developed by the Romans in the 15th century, and it is a walled city, half surrounded by a river/moat. The picture below shows the roman baths outside of the city and the canals that led through the walls, straight into the church (see the steeple in the background?) where there were wells underground.
As old as the city was, there were gastronomic delights of hip and modern feel everywhere. Mr. R and I had a daily argument of who’s meal was better. We had delicious traditional French peasant food like Beauf Bourguignon and Cote de Veau, but then were blown away by our ‘perfectly’ cooked eggs in a pesto veloute, our risotto’s aplenty, and multiple modern takes on the vegetable of the season, asparagus.
Our favorite restaurants in Beaune were Les Popiettes and Maison du Colmbier. The former had incredible food, all seasonal on a daily changing menu that was completely affordable, and the latter is a wine bar with incredible food and an 80 PAGE wine list with the best that Burgundy has to offer. As the sunset in Beaune this time of year is around 9:30, I would recommend aiming for reservations at 8pm or later. We tended to be the first person in the restaurant at 7 or 7:30 which grew increasingly hilarious night after night.
There are also patisseries, fromageries, and high-end tea and delicacy shops throughout the city, which are great places to stop off for an at home cheese plate, or to pick up local and artisanal made mustards and honeys, salts, french teas and sweets for a gift.
When we ventured out into Burgundy we rented a car from Enterprise (close walk from the train station) to drive around for an up-close view of the vines. Driver beware- they only have manual cars available so be sure you have someone who can drive stick with you…. in our case it was me. Although some of my gear shifting was a bit jarring, driving through the countryside and the small towns was extremely easy. For the oenophile in your life, you must visit the vineyards of Romanee-Conti, where the most expensive grapes in the world are cultivated. This one particular plot of land is smaller than an acre, but produces bottles of wine upwards of $20,000 in recent years, and these bottles of wine have been the victim of quite a bit of forgery and tampering as of late. Seriously, look into it, fascinating stuff. This was Mr. R’s dream visit, and he wouldn’t let a little rain put a damper on our visit through the vineyards!
This last image, as well as a few of the earlier vineyards pictures, are of Romanee-Conti. There was one man hunched over meticulously caring for his vines in the pouring rain. We were hoping it was the famed Monsieur Aubert de la Villaine, winemaker for la Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, but he never lifted his head for us to check. The mystery around the vines continues!
We had a fantastic trip throughout Beaune and definitely would love to return. If you are planning a trip to Beaune or Paris, please reach out for a full list of my food and shopping recommendations. I have plenty but the post would be far too long with all that information!