Beaune in France had not been on my radar until I started researching places I wanted to visit on my European Road Trip. Located on the beautiful wine route in Eastern France and a short 40km drive from Dijon, this medieval town sounded like the perfect place to stay for one night and to do some wine tasting; after all, Beaune is the wine capital of Burgundy!
We stayed in the Burgundy region for two nights on our way home from Switzerland. One night in Beaune Ibis Central and then one night in at La Reserve des Pres Verts, an hour’s drive away from Beaune in the sprawling Burgundy countryside in Mont-Saint-Jean.
If you were interested in visiting Beaune from Paris, it takes 3 hours by train, and there are approximately 30 trains per day. A day trip from Paris is possible, but with so many things to do in Beaune, a one-night stay would be a good option.
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Beaune’s old town is quite compact and based around the medieval hospital complex, Hotel-Dieu. The historic city centre is a delight to wander around with cobbled streets, traditional shops and timber-framed buildings surrounded by Beaune’s ancient ramparts.
Beaune is a gastronomy delight, with most shops selling French delicacies and wines. Cheese stores, cake stores and delis rub shoulders with wine merchants offering the finest foods and wines in the region.
I later discovered that quite a few of my acquaintances had been to Beaune for long weekends to stock up on all the fine foods and wines! Quite a trek from the UK but seen as worth it for connoisseurs.
10 Best Things to Do in Beaune
Beaune Wine Tasting #1
I must admit that even though I was in Burgundy, I don’t like red wine! The wine tasting was my chance to learn to love it. I booked in at La Cave De L’Ange Guardien for an evening session to learn about legs, appellations and other vino-related words. Pierre (the owner) allowed us to taste a selection of Burgundy wines, but my conversion wasn’t to be.
My husband swirled his glass identifying which varieties had stronger “legs and tears” and claiming to smell earthy, fruity and floral aromas. I, unfortunately, found all the varieties to taste like mulled wine, not a comment that went down well.
I fear that Pierre was quite perturbed when I admitted to enjoying New World whites over his exquisite red varieties. Feeling I had let him and myself down, I invested in a crate of sparkling white wine and a bottle of creme de cassis which he said would sweeten it up – it did!
Wine tasting, whatever your preference, is a fun thing to do, and there is a labyrinth of caves (wine cellars) to choose from as Burgundy is one of the best wine regions in France you just have to indulge!
Beaune Vineyard Tour #2
A tour from Beaune of 10 wines Grand Cru tasting day along the Burgundy Wine Route will appeal to wine enthusiasts. Take a tour so that you won’t miss out on sampling the wine varieties by driving yourself. The rolling countryside is a beautiful setting for some of the best vineyards in the world.
Hotel Dieu Museum #3
If you only see one thing in the city, it must be the Hospices de Beaune. It was a hospital founded for the poor in the Middle Ages with the most impressive Gothic architecture you could wish to see.
Its colourful tiled roofs give it a jaunty edge but step inside and discover a museum dedicated to the hospital’s history, complete with a reconstruction of the central ward and apothecary. It is as fascinating as it is beautiful, and you will find out that the Hotel Dieu still retains many exceptional vineyards in Burgundy, so you may decide to come home with a souvenir of the liquid kind!
It is free to enter, and you can take an audio tour of the buildings. This is such an excellent way to hear more about Hotel Dieu’s history and why this magnificent building sits in the centre of an unassuming small French town.
A circle of 2.5 km of walls, towers, and eight different forms of bastions has ensured Beaune’s defence for centuries, and with around half of the ramparts still standing, visitors can explore them during a visit. Of particular interest will be the Bastion Notre Dame, Square des Lions and the Rempart des Dames.
Access onto the ramparts is from any of the roads leading to the town centre marked with a wall and turret symbol – Amis des Remparts de Beaune.
Church of Notre Dame #5
The Basilica is just around the corner from the Musée du Vin and the Hôtel-Dieu. Best known for its collection of 15th-century tapestries, it is a delight to visit. While you are in Beaune, you will hear its bell chimes throughout the day.
Hire a Bike #6
With some of the best vineyards in the world located just outside of Beaune’s town centre, why not hire a bike and pedal your way around the rolling French countryside? The Route de Grande Crus will allow you to discover the best vineyards in Burgundy.
Jump aboard the Beaune Visiotrain #7
A charming 40-minute train journey around the city centre will describe the old town’s history and its monuments. You will also get an insight into Beaune’s world-renowned vineyards. Bookings can be made online.
Museum of Wine #8
As Beaune is the wine capital of Burgundy, one would expect to find a wine museum within its city centre. The Musée du Vin is housed in the Dukes of Burgundy’s former home, a spectacle in its own right, and explains the history of Burgundy’s wines through the centuries. Exhibits show the process of winemaking from soil to bottle and have displays of wine presses from the 16th-19th century.
Saturday Markets #9
Two markets operate on Saturdays in Beaune. The fresh produce food market is located in Place de la Halle beside the famous hospital, Hotel Dieu. The second market, open only between March and November, is an antique market in Place Carnot.
Of course, there are cheese, wine and patisserie shops to wander inside, and you will surely come out ladened with goodies. We ended up buying creme de cassis, wines, cheeses and loads of marzipan sweets – well, we were on holiday!
Eat and drink at the best restaurants in Beaune #10
Beaune has several Michelin-rated restaurants, and as the Burgundy region is famed for fine foods and superb wines, a meal here will be an enjoyable experience.
Check out some of the finest restaurants in Beaune.
- L’Hostellerie de Levernois is a five-star restaurant on the city’s outskirts offering a Michellin-rated menu, an indoor/outdoor bistro and a cocktail terrace. Currently, the best restaurant in Beaune, as listed on Trip Advisor.
- L’Ecusson offers fine dining in an exquisite setting.
- Le Cheval Noir offers a menu that will leave you salivating. Michelin-style dining at its finest.
- Olivier Leflaive is a restaurant run by one of the world’s leading wine families. You can be sure of a perfect meal matched with the most astounding wines.
For a small town, Beaune packs a punch. It is a great place to stop and discover the best food and wine in France. Spend a day and squeeze in as much as possible or spend a week and use Beaune as a base for trips to other towns in Burgundy such as Dijon, Chablis or Châteauneuf-en-Auxois or as a starting point for other French wine tasting regions.