Burgundian wines are without doubt some of the most beautiful in the world. The scenery of the vineyards is, however, not quite so majestic. Apart from the line of forest-topped vineyard clad hills that forms the backbone of the Côte d’Or, it’s a fairly flat landscape that runs over 200 kilometres from the top of Chablis to the bottom of Mâcon. The magic is in the bottle and in the incredible winemaking families that live and work in Burgundy. Thanks to the monks who farmed there, wine has been produced consistently since the 13th century. If you are able to visit this region, come for the wine but stay for the beautiful, charming villages and towns.
What to visit
Central to all of Burgundy is the ancient town of Beaune. It began life as a Roman fort in the first century but has been well-established since the 13th century. Beaune is simply beautiful. It has managed to maintain its medieval town centre and over the last fifteen years develop an exciting selection of restaurants and wine bars.
It’s a wonderful place for both wine-lovers and families. There is a year-round calendar of festivals and events which cater to any age. Most are based around music and dancing, including a tango and swing festival and Musicales en Auxois, celebrating the history of music.
Of course, if you are there for the wine (which almost everyone is!) there are specialist tours and tastings that can be booked through the main local government tourist website. Many of the top growers have now stopped doing any public tastings and even close themselves to the vast majority of the wine trade.
Of the producers we work with, Louis Jadot offers tours of their spectacular vat room and tastings on reservation.
Where to eat and drink
The classic go-to restaurant in central Beaune is Ma Cuisine and, though the wine list has been plundered by years of wine trade visits and wine lovers’ pilgrimages, it is still one of the best in the region with many exciting bottles to be found.
Slightly more up-market and with an excellent list, Au Fil de Zinc in Chablis is worth a visit. The chef Ryo Nagahama worked for l’Atelier de Joel Robuchon and brings the sophistication of fine dining alongside incredibly well-priced wines, especially from the legendary Dauvissat and Raveneau Domaines.
Back in Beaune, Caves Madeleine is right in the centre of town, a very cosy room ideal for cold wintry nights. Another great wine list which is constantly replenished, and you can always find some hidden gems.
If you’re after a pre or post dinner glass, two places we’d highly recommend are Bar a Vins 66 in Place Carnot with a great wine list and nice nibbles, and one of our favourites, Au Bout du Monde, with one of the best lists in Burgundy and great atmosphere. You’re very likely to run into one of the great winemakers of the region here.
Where to stay
Most hotels in and around Beaune are traditional basic three star French offerings. Finding luxury is quite rare and reflects the humble history of this region compared to the far grander Bordeaux chateaux.
There are some very good hotels worth considering. The Hotel de Cep is one of the classic options, lavishly furnished to ensure maximum comfort. A good mid-range choice is the charming Les Jardins de Loïs, about five minutes from the centre of Beaune. Or, if you fancy being further out of town, there is the Hostellerie de Levernois which has a more rural, relaxed yet still luxurious ambiance.
There is always the option of Airbnb which offers a great variety of flats and houses in the centre of Beaune.