Beaune—A Jewel of Bourgogne

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After much writing about Provence, it’s time to get back to Burgundy. After all, that’s where it all got started. Yes, Provence is intoxicating, and it has its hold for sure. But Burgundy, and really all of northern and central France, has the type of charm portrayed in fairy tales. Filled with sleepy villages, châteaux, rolling hills, vineyards, and canals, Bourgogne is the essence of charm.

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The town of Beaune, a jewel amid the most dreamy of winemaking villages, is often considered the wine capital of Burgundy.  Though I usually prefer small, sleepy villages, the larger town of Beaune is one classy place, filled with fine restaurants, cafés, museums, wine cellars, and gourmet shops.

It’s an absolute must to sit at a café on the Place Carnot looking out at the charming carousel, medieval rooftops, and enchanting cobblestone streets.

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Wine tasting opportunities are endless. Though a bit touristy, the Marché aux Vins, right by the famous Hospices de Beaune, is a very fun, casual experience. The cellar offers a self-guided tasting tour, where you help yourself to the wine as you walk from barrel to barrel through a candlelit cellar. I can handle that!

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Not to be forgotten is the outdoor market, held on Wednesday and Saturday morning. Filled with gastronomic specialties, this market is one of the most beautiful markets in France. The medieval village comes alive on market day. The regional delights abound. There is also a small section of brocante stands set up, where many treasures await—perhaps an old Dijon mustard jar or a vintage coffee grinder.

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One can get lost for days with much to do in this town. Beaune is truly a Burgundian jewel of culture and elegance. A visit must also include a drive—or better yet a bike ride—on the Route des Grands Crus through the famous winemaking villages of Volnay, Pommard, Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet, and Santenay, all surrounded by gorgeous vineyards.

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À bientôt!

Semur-en-Auxois—A Burgundian Jewel

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Without a doubt, Semur-en-Auxois is the most picturesque and photogenic of the Burgundian villages to be explored. You truly won’t be able to put your camera down as you make your way around the ramparts and down to the banks of the River Armançon, which winds its way through the charming village.

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This medieval village has it all—character, charm, prettiness, romance, mysteriousness. Though the smaller nearby village of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain still remains my favorite, Semur-en-Auxois is a must see on a visit to Burgundy. In fact, you can combine the two villages on the same day if needed, making sure to go to Ferme Auberge la Grange in Flavigny for lunch.

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One can’t help but get lost in this romantic and pretty village, from the winding cobblestone streets in the medieval center down to the picturesque banks of the river.

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Semur-en-Auxois is about 45 minutes from Beaune and the charming, notable wine-making villages of the region. Near Beaune is where I prefer to stay and then travel out a bit to explore. The villages of Meursault, Pommard, and Villers-la-Faye have all been excellent locations to stay. From there it is an easy and scenic trip to Semur-en-Auxois.

À bientôt!

 

Biking the Route des Grands Crus

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The Beaune to Santenay cycling route is an absolute must—a never to be forgotten experience—when visiting this region of Bourgogne. This 44-kilometer round-trip route will take you into the heart of the prestigious vineyards on the Route des Grands Crus while you pass through one charming storybook village after another.

To start, you can pick up your bikes at Bourgogne Randonnees in Beaune. The friendly staff will help map out your route and provide tips on where to stop for wine tastings. Yes, it is perfectly acceptable to bike 44 kilometers while stopping to taste wine along the way. J’aime la France!

After a short distance of cycling through traffic in Beaune, you will reach the peaceful bike route. The first village you will come to is Volnay. It’s hard to resist the temptation to leave the bike route and explore every nook and cranny of these picturesque villages filled with charm.

The next village you will come to is Pommard, which produces some seriously good vin rouge that is described as masculine compared to its neighboring Volnay that produces a more delicate, or feminine, red from the pinot noir grape. Oh so many great opportunities for tasting in this village! But we have a long way to go.

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The winding bike route through the vineyards as you approach Pommard

As the route takes you past Pommard and into the center of the next village, you will just want to pinch yourself. The charming village of Meursault is the most dreamy of them all. Here is where you will definitely want to stop for un café while you sit in the village square in front of the château.

From here it’s down the hill—which means you will have to come back up—and on to Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet, where the terroir contributes to the world’s greatest chardonnays being produced. There are ample spots along the way to stop and have a picnic on the side of a stone wall overlooking the world-renowned Puligny vineyards. Or you can have either an elegant lunch at le Montrachet or a tasting lunch at la Table d’Olivier Leflaive, both located in Puligny-Montrachet.

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At this point, if you can still make it on and up the hill to Santenay—or perhaps leave that for another day by car—you will cycle by more beautiful vineyards.

You’ve made it, hopefully. If so, there is another charming square with a beautiful fountain and more restaurants for lunch if you timed it right. We made it to Santenay one time at 1:50 p.m., plopped ourselves down at a restaurant, and ordered just a bottle of wine as a reward before making the long ride back. Of course, this was probably completely unacceptable etiquette. But at the time, we didn’t know any better. Nonetheless, we were served a bottle of wine.

If you can find the energy to make it up just one more little hill before heading back, you will be brought to the most picturesque château—where naturally there is wine tasting—and a fairy-tale-like turret above the village of Santenay.

Now, it’s a long trip back to Beaune. But what a gorgeous ride it will be! And what better way to end the day than at le Clos Carnot, because I think it should be about apéritif time!

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À bientôt!