A year in Europe followed by a move to Bangkok

Burgundy: Beaune, France

Beaune was the perfect halfway point to spend the weekend during our drive from Provence to Normandy. Located in the eastern part of central France about 30 miles south of Dijon, Beaune is the wine capital of the Burgundy region and a quintessential French town. Jake said that before he visited France, this is what he pictured it to be like.  It reminded me of the French village in Disney's Beauty and the Beast.


What to do:
By far, the two biggest attractions in Beaune seemed to be wine and the Hospices de Beaune.  We'll start with the wine. 

We couldn't visit one of the world's most famous wine regions without doing a wine tasting. We chose the Marche aux Vins. Situated in an old church built around the late 1300s, the atmosphere is half the fun.  With its stone archways and candle lit cellar, the building is beautiful.  You choose the number of wines you want to taste, then are free to move from station to station yourself, pouring your own wine.  Information is posted on the walls to read at your leisure.  Being self guided, it was very laid back with no pressure to like everything or buy anything.

The "good stuff" is at the end of the tour and is much better guarded - the Grand Cru wines are in a machine that resembles a self serve fountain drink machine, and you have to swipe your pre-coded card to dispense a serving. Of course all the wine is for sale, and Jake and I somehow got caught up in the moment and left with more wine than we probably needed.  I can only assume this is a sign of a successful wine tasting experience.

Beaune's other main attraction is the Hospice de Beaune.  A hospital for the poor, it was opened in 1443 by its founder, Nicholas Rolin (chancellor to the Duke of Burgundy), who hoped to both help the destitute and plague striken population of the Burgundy region and also impress God with his charitable acts, thereby making his way into heaven.  The building operated as a hospital until 1971 when its operations were moved to a modern building nearby.  

Over many centuries, the Hospice de Beaune has been endowed with some of Burgundy's best vineyards.  The wine is sold at the Hospice de Beaune's annual wine auction.   Run by Christie's, this is the most famous wine auction in the world.  The auction includes three days of festivities and attracts buyers from around the world.  I imagine it is pretty fabulous, having raised over ten million dollars for the Hospice in 2014.  

Along with other main French hospitals, the Hospice is called the "Hotel Dieu," which translates to "God's Hotel."  

Today, visitors can see how the sick were cared for hundreds of years ago.  Although everything sounded pretty horrific to me, when it opened, the idea of a hospital for the poor was innovative and the care received was unparalleled.  The Hospice also features museum like exhibits ranging from medieval medical tools (yikes!) to a kitchen exhibit showing how the food was prepared back then.  Everything is extremely well done and quite interesting.  

And of course, the roof is exquisite. 

The Food:
I learned about Ma Cuisine in the Wall Street Journal, so I think the secret is out.  The secret being that Ma's serves some of the best food and wine in France. We enjoyed classic french dishes that originated in Burgundy - beef bourguignon (translates to burgundy in French) and escargot. The Wall Street Journal called Ma Cusine's beef bourguignon the gold standard and I agree, it was amazing.  This also happens to be my mom's signature dish, and this version was almost as good as hers, which is a huge compliment.

The escargot was as good as escargot can be.  The snails were well hidden behind large amounts of butter, garlic and parsley.  It was fun to try this dish where it originated.

The Hotel:
We stayed at the Hotel le Cep.  With buildings dating back to the 1400s and filled to the brim with antiques (and crushed red velvet), the Hotel Le Cep oozes character.  I felt like we got the full Beaune experience by staying here. The hotel is located in the center of town, the rooms are large and comfortable, and the service was warm and friendly.

They even allowed Henry into the bar and made him an omelette!

The grounds and courtyards were peaceful and lovely.

We really enjoyed our visit to Beaune.  It was nice to get to see a completely different side of France.  From the architecture to the wine to the regional dishes, everything was classic and filled with tradition.  I assume the rightfully proud people of Beaune would agree that you haven't truly seen France until you have seen Beaune.


  1. Oh I want to go to France so badly!! Looks like you are having an amazing time! What a beautiful place! On my travel list for sure!!! Enjoy!!!


    1. Hi Danielle - you would love it! I also really enjoyed Paris, but it was especially fun to get to see some other parts of the country :)

  2. Fab post! Bringing back memories of my trip to Normandy already. Love the photos, especially the winery! ha ha…Glad to have found your blog. Cheers, Nicole

    1. Thanks, Nicole! I'm working on a post right now about Normandy - wasn't it amazing?!?