Beaune is a quiet city in the east of France, not too far from the border with Switzerland and approximately halfway between Dijon and Chalon-sur-Saone, just a couple of hours drive from Paris and Lyon. A number of river cruises which take place in France are tailored to one or more of the country’s famed wine regions and one of the most famous of these is the Burgundy province. The wine capital of Burgundy is Beaune and quite simply, it is home to some of the best vineyards in the entire world. The importance of the wine industry in the region certainly draws a lot of tourists, but the city itself isn’t particularly well-known for having attractions other than its vineyards. However, Beaune still has some of its original walls and ramparts, along with a moat, while the views of the surrounding Cote d’Or hills are some of the best in the area.
As you’d expect, the main draw in Beaune is the vineyards and most river cruise operators offer tours of the region, where you’ll learn all about the wine-making process, exploring the renowned cellars and finding out some of the details of the local cultures surrounding the whole industry as you go. Of course, you’ll also be able to take part in some tasting sessions during which you’ll get to know what the best product of the region is really like and why it is so revered.
As well as wine-based excursions, the town also yields some eye-catching architecture, including a number of hospices. The most popular of these is the beautiful Hotel Dieu, the proprietors of which also own some of the vineyards. As well as being an utterly charming structure, it still functions today as a retirement home, though the majority of its footfall still derives from tourism. Whichever you choose to visit, there is some incredible architecture to enjoy, while another impressive sight is the Notre Dame Church, which dates all the way back to the 12th century.
One wine-producing chateau which remains popular with visitors whether they are fans of the fruit of the vine or not, is Chateau de Savigny-les-Beaune. Here, you’ll find all manner of vintage aircraft, cars, motorcycles and agricultural vehicles, which offer the perfect distraction for history and memorabilia buffs. The clue is in the name at Dalineum, which offers a fascinating showcase of a number of the celebrated surrealist’s works as well as some picturesque gardens.
An excellent way to take in many of these sights is by way of the VisioTrain 2000, a tourist train that operates between April and September and offers 45-minute tours of the town and its sights.
As you may have guessed, the chance to sample some of the world’s most celebrated wine is a must when in Beaune, so make sure you book a wine-tasting excursion to make the most of your visit