Beaune is a small town in southern France, often overshadowed by the grandeur of Paris or Cannes. But, this small town is just as important to French culture as the home of the Eiffel Tower - Beaune is the wine capital of the Burgundy region.
Therefore, it is a town you must visit if you're a wine connoisseur. Or if you want to learn about wine, and explore some amazing vineyards and wineries. And taste everything that the region has to offer.
Yes, this is the town where it is not only acceptable but expected of you to start tasting wine as early as 10 AM. And if that's not fun enough for you, no worries - here are all the best things to do in Beaune, France!
1. Burgundy Wine School
Burgundy Wine School is the perfect opportunity for you to get to know the wines of this region. Whether you’re just looking to discover a bit about them or really deepen your knowledge, the school has a course suitable for you.
Actually, they have a total of four courses which range in duration from 90 minutes to 2 days. Three of them can all be completed in a day, and include field trips to various vineyards and lots of wine tastings. The field trips will also give you a chance to admire stunning landscapes of France.
This is also a unique opportunity to enrol in a school where it is required of you to taste wine at 9-10 AM, and I think that’s something so exquisitely French. No one is going to judge you for day drinking, and that’s one upside of this fun excursion.
If you are really interested in taking these classes, make sure to sign up for them before you get to Beaune. That is as simple as sending them an email or filling out a form on their website.
2. Hôtel-Dieu Museum
Hôtel-Dieu Museum is probably the most famous sight in this town. It is a museum of local art with a flamboyant exterior, known for its Gothic facades and glazed roofs. And it is home to the Beaune Altarpiece - a polyptych altarpiece often called The Last Judgement, painted by Rogier van der Weyden.
This museum is a must if you’re ever in town. It gives you an opportunity to learn about Beaune history from the 15th century until today, in a building that is an amazing example of civil architecture of the Middle Ages.
It was originally built as a hospital, and you will have the chance to learn about medieval medicine and how the sick were treated half a dozen centuries ago. You can opt for a guided tour or go on your own - just don’t skip this gem of Burgundy.
Hôtel-Dieu is incredibly important not just to the city of Beaune, but to the entire Burgundy region. The area includes three courtyards, the museum with its outbuildings, hundreds of meters of cellars that still preserve the special wine of Hospices and the Bastion of XVth century. It should be on your list whether or not you are even planning to visit Beaune.
3. Maison des Climats
This museum is a great place to begin your exploration of Beaune. You can learn a lot about the vine-growing land parcels (Climats) and the art of vine-growing here - perfect background knowledge for all the wine tastings you’re going to do later.
The museum features large-scale models of Beaune vineyards, as well as some multimedia content. You will be introduced to a 9-meter model that shows the perimeter of the World Heritage site, which includes 1247 parcels. There is also a 9-meter long living fresco, which is a projection of a film about the World Heritage site and the landscape.
Maison des Climats also has 2 blocks that are dedicated to toponym and geography of the area, which is important for vine-growing. And, perhaps the star of the exhibit is the iconic wooden frieze that includes dates and characters who are important to history of the Climats, as well as an accompanying glossary.
The best part is that you can get a tablet that allows you to explore the history of Climats at your own pace, with an augmented reality app that displays information about the plot you choose.
4. Boutique Wine Market
The boutique wine market is a must for some quick wine tastings in the city. You can shop (and taste) all of the local wines here, so it is the perfect place to go and pick up all the ones you loved during your explorations of the wineries and vineyards.
It is located in the foundation of an ancient church, which really makes the entire experience unforgettable. If you do visit the wine market, definitely go for the Degustation Grand Crus - this way, you get to taste all the best that Beaune has to offer. And you can also visit the caves below, which is an amazing experience in itself.
5. Collégiale Notre Dame
Collégiale Notre Dame is in the very heart of Beaune’s historic center. The 13th century catholic church features elements of both Gothic and Renaissance architecture, and it is a stunning sight. It is a massive church and be sure to walk around to the back.
Inside Collégiale Notre Dame you will find 15th century tapestries, a stunning organ and some truly gorgeous stained glass. It is more than worth it to go inside if you have the time. And you should also check out the small monastery garden that’s part of the complex.
6. Park Bouzaise
Park Bouzaise is close to Beaune’s historic center, and you should definitely stop by. It’s a great place the escape the crowds for a little while, since the park is very quiet and surrounded by trees, with a large pond in the middle.
It is an amazing place where you can sit down and relax, or have a picnic and try out the wines you bought at the market. The place is gorgeous and you can get some stunning photographs here, while having a break from exploring the city.
7. Bike Tour by Burgundy Evasion
A bike tour is a good idea if you want to explore not just Beaune, but also its surroundings. You can get a guided bike tour of the area, which will last for half a day. So, if you’re in Beaune for less than 24 hours, it is not the first thing I would recommend but you would be able to squeeze it in your itinerary.
But, if you have at least two days in this town, then why not go for it. The tour takes you through the gorgeous landscape of this area, and culminates in a visit to a Côte de Beaune vineyard. You will get a tour of the vineyard, as well as the opportunity to taste some delicious wines. In addition to that, the bike tour includes a lunch stop,
Bear in mind that while the bike tour is an amazing opportunity to explore the nature around the town, it does take at least 2-3 hours and you only visit one vineyard in that time. If you’re looking to explore more of Beaune, maybe you’re better off doing it on your own. Which brings me to the next best thing to do in the city.
8. All The Wineries & Vineyards
Beaune is the wine capital of Burgundy, so wine tastings are definitely on the menu. Now, the area is swarming with vineyards, and it’s up to you which one you want to visit.
You can actually find some great wineries within the city itself - stop by the Alex Gambal winery or the Domaine Debray winery for a quick wine tasting. Château de Pommard is a winery a little out of town, with not only delicious wine, but also stunning grounds. A trip here is an excellent way to spend your day, just make sure to make a reservation. And if you’re going with a group of people, you will be able to book a private tasting.
Vineyards are going to be in the area outside city centre, so your best bet is to rent a bike or a motorcycle. Pascal Clément, Domaine Jean-Luc Joillot, Pommard Les Grands Epenots and Domaine Martin-Dufour are the highest rated ones near in Beaune, which offer tours, tastings and are just an amazing way to spend an afternoon.