A story of wine & wanderlust: the Ultimate Solo Burgundy Guide – chapter 3, Beaune
I acted on impulse to visit Beaune in Burgundy; an area I only knew from wine labels. A rash move, some may say. I knew I loved wine – especially wine from Burgundy, but I didn’t have a clue about the place itself. What was I getting myself into?
Beaune top travel tipsVisit the Beaune Tourist Office website here.
- Rail – The TGV network gets you from Paris to Beaune in 2.15 hours (via connection in Dijon)
- Air – Dole-Jura airport is located 50 km south-east of Dijon
- Bus – Click here and here for information on bus times and services in and around Beaune
Beaune is a small, walled town in the centre of the Burgundy winemaking region, famed for its beautiful vineyards and annual wine auction.
Gerry’s tips… from personal experience – Beaune
Burgundy: the adventure begins
As the train left the Gare de Lyon, I began my love affair with very fast trains – or the TGV as the French call them (Train à Grande Vitesse). I sipped a coffee and ate a croissant in the buffet car moving at 350 kilometres per hour through a panorama of fields, forests, and hamlets.
Sitting there, I pondered my decision.
What would I learn from this trip?
What would it teach me?
I was excited to find out. Shortly after Dijon, we reached the fabled Côte-d’Or, whose western slopes were covered in vines.
Burgundy: discovering Beaune
Exiting the train station at Beaune, I followed the signs into the town centre. The Tourist Office supplied a map and I signed on for a guided tour. I was looking forward to speaking English with people and understanding the town’s rich history.
The guide took us to the area where the Roman village existed around 300 AD. It was the heart of the city – only 300 metres in diameter and defined by the fortress walls topped with broad ramparts.
We also visited the Hospices de Beaune, which operated as a hospital from 1452 to 1971. Its Flemish architecture is a dazzling reminder that the Dukes of Burgundy lorded over this area long before it became part of France.
Later, I visited some local wine merchants and took the obligatory cellar tour, sampling some fair Chardonnays and ordinary red Burgundies. Dinner was snails served on a ceramic palette with a dozen holes, each of which held a chewy little brute and some garlic butter. The beef in red wine was very good, and I couldn’t fault the crème brulée.
Beaune: spontaneous adventures
Back at my hotel, I felt I had pushed my boundaries.
It was unlike me to do something spontaneous like jump on a train to an unknown destination. I felt I was something of an adventurer. The next day, I intended to go back into Beaune and wander around until the 4pm train back to Paris.
I looked from my room to the vineyards stretching across the valley and up the distant slopes. I’d read about and tasted wines from the Côte-d’Or for years. And I felt a pang of regret that I had only booked an overnight visit. Perhaps I could have seen more of Burgundy.
Nevertheless, I told myself that it was never a good idea to ‘bite off more than you can chew’. This was just a ‘toe in the water’ exercise – and 36 hours in Beaune was a good start!
Curious to know what happens next or start at the beginning?
‘The Ultimate solo Guide to Burgundy’ with Gerry Robinson
Have you ever tasted wines from the Côte-d’Or region? We’d love to hear about your experiences and recommendations in the comments box below.