Beaune is a small, somewhat sleepy wine town in the Burgandy region of France. I thought it was delightful and my husband loved it, but my mom was a little less enthusiastic. I think she found it underwhelming after Paris.
Behind the town are gorgeous vineyards that you can walk straight into. We only went out about a half-mile, but it seemed like you could keep hiking for miles and miles through them if you wanted to. To get there, you need to enter Parc de la Bouzaise and then walk out the gate near the rear of the park and turn left on the little road.
The town is quiet and easy to stroll around. There were wine bars with attractive outdoor seating areas, and the BEST chocolate/sweets shop we found on our whole trip. It was called Bouche, located at 1 Place Monge. I highly recommend finding it if you’re looking for treats.
The restaurants as a whole looked fantastic. Several were located in actual wine cellars below ground level. You may want to make reservations- we had trouble getting tables, but that might have been because there was a wine tasting the next day. But no matter- once we ended up at Restaurant LeConty, 5 rue Ziem, we forgot all about the other restaurants anyway. It was some of the best food of the trip, and a thoroughly enjoyable dining experience to boot. Our server spoke fluent English and went out of his way to help us understand the menu. He also worked with me enthusiastically to figure out a vegetarian entree I wanted to eat! As an appetizer I had a vegetable goat cheese terrine, which is a slice of a layered loaf of cooked, seasoned veggies and thick goat cheese. My main course was risotto that the chef made without the chorizo described on the menu. There was a chilled lemon-lime-strawberry soup for dessert that was fantastic. It was not blended, just whole chunks of berries in a slightly syrupy, juicy, incredibly flavorful “broth.” We couldn’t figure out what was in it- possibly cloves or cinnamon? I would try to recreate it, but I’m stumped by how many layers of flavor there were in the tiny bowl.
The second day we had a late lunch, so we wanted a lighter, more casual dinner. We settled on Le Galion, 5 Place Ziem, right across from LeConty. This was one of the few eateries on the trip where I had a tough time making up my mind because there were several vegetarian items that looked good to me. My husband and I ended up sharing a leek quiche and a cheese tray. We also sprang for dessert, but although those looked exciting on the menu, they didn’t turn out to be very memorable. A vegetable soup and grapefruit rose apertif also caught my eye, but I just didn’t have enough of an appetite to order them.
We also enjoyed a casual, light lunch at Palais des Gourmets Salon de The, 14 Place Carnot. They had little quiches in several flavors that looked good to my husband and were served on top of big salads. I had a salad topped with little gingerbread rolls with melted cheese in the middle. We never saw those on another menu, so I was glad I ordered them! Also, this particular place did not stop serving food between lunch and dinner, so it was perfect when we arrived in town in the mid-afternoon, when most restaurants were closed.
We read about a chateau 8 miles from Beaune, and I was dying to visit a castle so we made the trip. However, I am not sure I would recommend this unless you have a car. We did not have a car (and the car rental places were closed because it was a holiday), so we took a cab out to Chateau de Rochepot and back again. The cabs ended up being very expensive, so in hindsight I’m not sure that was the best choice. It was a nice scenic drive through vineyards, though, and one of our cab drivers made a thoughtful, enthusiastic effort to tell us all about the different grapes and wineries. Unfortunately, he spoke very, very little English and we spoke very, very little French, but we did pick up some of what he said and very much enjoyed the “conversation.” Our guidebook said you could bike to the chateau, but I am really glad we didn’t try that because it was very hilly and you really had to pay attention to the road signs to keep going the right direction. The castle was small and interesting, though not a must-see in my humble opinion.
We stayed at Hotel de la Paix, 45 rue du Faubourg Madeleine, which was on the edge of town a relatively short walk from the train station. I wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again. The breakfast was fantastic and the rooms and common areas were modern and thoughtfully decorated.
All in all, I loved Beaune. It was easy to get to by train from Paris, and it was a peaceful, scenic, classy yet comfortable town. It was a perfect break from the hustle and bustle of the bigger cities on our trip, the kind of place where you could sleep with your hotel window open to the stars and a dark, still, nearly silent night.