With its ancient fortified walls, bastions, cobblestone streets, and medieval architecture, Beaune unfolds in the heart of France's Côte d'Or, amid bucolic rolling landscapes. This is Burgundy’s sweet spot, about 27 miles south of Dijon, where excellent vineyards and wineries abound, gourmet nibbles include mustard and boeuf bourguignon, and in the summer, couples kiss at sidewalk cafes and flower stalls burst with colorful blooms.
What We Love
La Moutarderie Fallot: The area’s last family-managed stone-ground mustard mill features a museum chock-full of facts and folklore about the history of the zesty condiment. You can also savor treats in the tasting room.
Wine: Burgundy produces more than a hundred appellations of wine. You can sample as many as you can at the cellar La Cave de l'Ange Gardien, where tastings and tours are offered twice per day, and bottles are uncorked with panache. Book ahead to reserve a spot.
Cheese: Fromagerie Hess, an old-fashioned épicerie and cheesemaker, showcases the best of the region's delicacies: artisanal cheeses, local wines, charcuterie, truffles, and jams. Stop by for a sampling or a session in serious indulgence.
Best Known For
Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune: Built in 1443, this former charity hospital is now a must-see museum with impressive barrel-vaulting and multi-colored glaze-tiled roofing. Inside, you can view the "The Last Judgment” altarpiece by 15th-century Flemish master Rogier van der Weyden as well as an 18th-century pharmacy with an interesting medicinal display.
Musée du Vin de Bourgogne: Housed in what was once the residence of the Dukes of Burgundy, this museum is dedicated to the region's winemaking. Learn about Burgundy’s history, unique terroir (soil, topography, and climate), and how wines are blended and produced.
Basilique Collégiale Notre-Dame: This Romanesque and Gothic style church, once associated with the monastery of Cluny, was constructed during the 11th through 15th centuries and is known for its beautiful 15th-century tapestries.
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Who It's Best For
Foodies and Wine Lovers: Scores of restaurants serve sumptuous dishes and notable vintages. Some local specialties: boeuf bourguignon (beef braised in red wine), escargot in garlic and butter, and jambon persillé (ham terrine with parsley)
History Buffs: Beaune has played an important role in France's history thanks to the formidable religious orders, influential merchants, and key aristocrats that have made it their home. Musicians, too, have made their mark here, and every July the town hosts the Festival de Beaune, a Baroque music extravaganza with an international reputation.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Summer Is Peak Season: Beaune swells with throngs of tourists during the summer — which you can view as a festive ambience or an overcrowded nuisance — depending on your attitude.
Laura Manske is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Redbook, InStyle, and Cosmopolitan.