Beaune

FRANCE BURGUNDY COTE D'OR Beaune Hospices de

Beaune (pronounced Bone, pop 22 200) is the principal town in the Côte-d’Or department (and the unofficial capital). The wine producing centre of Côte-d’Or sees a constant stream of tourists, rows of souvenir shops and quaint cafés. The slight touristy façade is kept in check by the town; as it has managed to preserve its medieval atmosphere by maintaining its old cobblestoned streets and pretty little squares. This ancient aura makes for a novel wine tasting trip.  

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The heart of Beaune is its irregularly-shaped old town that is encircled by a boulevard, which is partitioned into seven different streets. This walled town is located just five minutes west of the SNCF train station, which stands at avenue du 8-Septembre. The regional bus stop is also located here.
 

 

 

 


FRANCE BURGUNDY COTE D'OR Beaune Hospices de WikipediaThe old town of Beaune is encircled by ancient ramparts that make for a good stroll, as they feature pathways which are sheltered by gardens. The crown jewel of this tightly clustered town is its ancient charity hospital, Hôtel Dieu de Hospices de Beaune [rue de l’Hôtel-Dieu, +33 380244500, www.hospices-de-beaune.com, ad/ch €7/3]. This spectacular Gothic structure was founded in 1443 and was in use until 1971. Erected by Nicolas Rolin, the Chancellor of the Duke of Burgundy, the hospital was created to serve the poor and needy of Beaune, when the town was badly stricken by poverty and famine. The hospital continued providing medical attention and other services for the needy Beaunois well into the 20th century- when it was converted to a museum. Today, this notable complex features three courtyards, a few outbuildings, a bastion and large wine cellars. The courtyards will give you a memorable welcome with their wooden gallery and luminescent, multi-coloured roof patterns that feature diamond shaped tiles, which come in shades of green, black and yellow. Inside, you will find a dragon-guarded Grande Salle; an 18th century pharmacy (still lined with flasks that were used to hold liquids and powders), as well as a large, open kitchen. The interior also features the famous Polyptych of the Last Judgement, which shows the dead climbing from their graves to make their way to heaven (a golden cathedral) or hell (a fiery abyss). This detailed work was created by the Flemish painter Roger van de Weydan.

Also in the old town, the Basilique Collégiale Notre Dame [Place Général Leclerc]. has a large porch that welcomes you into the building and features a mix of both Gothic and Romanesque details as the structure was constructed across the 11th to 15th centuries. This church was once affiliated to the monastery in Cluny. These days, the church exhibits medieval tapestries during the period between Easter and mid-November. Contact the tourist office for guided tours of the building.

Despite its splendid architectural works, most visitors to Beaune come looking for its wine rather than its buildings. The reason is simply that Beaune acts as the hub for wine-related businesses, making these cellars easier to access. It should be noted that Beaune does not house a Grand Cru vineyard; however, it is featured on the Route des Grand Crus as the vineyard trail runs north from here. This does not mean the local wines are any less drink-worthy. In fact, Beaune’s wines have been so popular for ages that most of its buildings and streets sheathe a wine cellar of some sort, underground. Hence, there are numerous options for wine tasting enthusiasts. One of the notable places include the Lycée Viticole [16 avenue Charles Jaffelin, +33 380263581, www.lavitibeaune.com], which is a viticulture and agricultural school that trains students (above 18) to master the tedious process of wine making- from fermentation to ageing. You can find at least one such in school in most of the wine-growing regions in France.

Wine lovers flock to Beaune in November, for the renowned Trios Glorieuses Festival - the grandest Côte-d’Or wine festival that lasts for three straight days. The festival features the Hospice de Beaune’s auction that sells off its locally produced wines, using the proceeds for medical research. This event, which has been held since 1859, ends with a beautiful candle-light dinner in the Hôtel-Dieu itself. 

The wine school is located a few kilometres south of the Parc de la Bouzazie, which connects walking and hiking enthusiasts to several walking trails, which begin in the park itself.

 

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BEAUNE:   1. Tourism office  2. Train station (east of map limits)  3. Hôtel Dieu de Hospices de Beaune  4. Basilique Collégiale Notre Dame  5. Lycée Viticole (west of map limits)