Beaune On a Budget
SightsBeaune is perhaps best-known for an annual wine auction held at the Hôtel-Dieu (Hospices de Beaune). Recognized by its colorful, geometric-patterned tile roof, this 15th-century former hospital is now the Hôtel-Dieu Museum, which showcases works like “The Last Judgment” altarpiece by Van der Weyden. The building itself is one of France's most prestigious historic monuments, dating back to the Middle Ages when it was a hospital palace built for the poor and disadvantaged during a time of plague. Its extravagant Gothic architecture is still preserved today, along with its 60-hectare wine estate, which produces esteemed wines to be sold at the auction on the third Sunday in November.
The rest of the town has plenty of restaurants, cafes, and shops to explore and sample just about every kind of wine available as well as specialty treats like wild peach jam, chocolates, cakes, cheeses, fruit liqueurs, and pomace brandies. Wine-lovers should visit L'Athenaeum de la Vigne et du Vin in Rue de l'Hôtel du Vin for books and accessories and Le Comptoir Viticole in Rue Samuel-Legay for more wine paraphernalia.
NeighborhoodsBeaune is a good city for walking. The old center of town is compact and is surrounded by a ring street that follows the old city walls. To explore the city, park in the old center of town and walk in. There are a number of parking lots on the ring roads. Beaune itself can be easily seen in a half-day, but it is the abundance of flavors that have food and wine lovers spending days and days sampling around the area. In Beaune itself, there is an outdoor market every Saturday morning that features wide variety of goods, and is usually very crowded. Most visitors arrange access to a car to explore the surrounding wine towns in the Côte-d’Or part of France. Other famous towns of the Burgundy wine region include Chablis, Dijon, Cluny, Mâcon, and Vezelay-all worth-exploring not only for their wine and fine food, but also for their unique history, châteaux, churches, and museums, as well as markets, food shops, and restaurants.
ActivitiesThere are many ways in which visitors can experience the wine culture of Beaune and the greater Burgundy area. Some might adhere to a deeper exploration of the little treasures that Beaune has to offer, while others might prefer to travel from town to town for a more varied wine and dine experience. Explore on your own and chat with locals, or book a tour for a more guided sampling through the region.
Beaune is also famous for events held throughout the year, some which include its Baroque Music Festival every weekend throughout July, the Festival ‘Cours, Eau, Jardins’ throughout the summer, the Jazz Festival in September, the Hospice de Beaune Wine Auction in November, and the colorful Festival of Saint-Vincent, the patron saint of wine each January.
Food and DiningFood of Beaune is typical of that throughout Burgundy. The region of Burgundy is as much a region of food as it is of wine, and the two often come hand in hand. Some of the most renowned specialties are coq au vin, beef bourguignon, fondue bourguignonne, escargots de Bourgogne, la matelote d’anguille à la bourguignonne (eels stewed in wine sauce), and gougeres (cheese puffs). Dijon, of course, just north of Beaune, has become famous for its mustard as well as Kir, a beverage made with white wine from Burgundy and blackcurrant liqueur. And as far as sweets go, specialties include things like dragees d’anis de Flavigny (anise-flavored candies), spice bread from Dijon, and “Belle Dijonnaise” pear (poached in wine). Needless to say, the region is also home to a diverse array of cheeses, like Époisses cheese, to match every wine vintage. There are many good restaurants in Beaune that specialize in pairing these Burgundian classics with local wines.
TransportationThe best prices for buses and trains in France can be found on Omio (formerly GoEuro). They let you search across all train, bus, and plane routes throughout Europe.
The nearest airport is in Dijon at Dijon-Bourgogne Airport, located about 40 kilometers north of Beaune. It is a very small passenger airport and typically serves business flights. Alternatively, visitors can fly into Lyon at Lyon–Saint-Exupery Airport, located about 175 kilometers south of Beaune. The airport is international and is served by a wide range of commercial airlines. There are trains that navigate between cities, but the most direct route from Dijon or Lyon to Beaune is by car.