A deserved legend in the wine world, Burgundy rewards those who make a pilgrimage to France’s historic eastern region, which offers so much to taste, see and learn for aficionados of the vine and its gastronomic pleasures. Consider renting a house and vehicle, for the purpose of having an exploratory home (away from home) base; keeping a kitchen means you can shop in local markets and cook for yourself, enjoying the fruits of your winery visits with your meals. Here are 7 must-visit Burgundy destinations.
Marché aux Vins
2, rue Nicolas Rolin, 21200 Beaune
+ 33 firstname.lastname@example.org
Hours: September 1 – June 30: 9.00 am to 11.30 am and 2.00 pm to 5.30 pm; July 1 – August 31: 9.30 am to 5.30 pm
If you don’t have a lot of time to spend in Burgundy, make your priority stop the Marché aux Vins [http://www.marcheauxvins.com] in Beaune, one of France’s key wine centres. The Marché offers tasting selections of a significant swath of the greatest Burgundian wine; so call it one-stop sipping. Even if you’re not there for the wine (surely, not possible?), the Marché merits the visit for the architecture alone, set in a beautiful building dating back to the late-1300s/early-1400s. Guided tours cost 28 – 38 € ($35 – $50), depending on group size; unguided tours cost 10 € ($13).
La Cave du Couvent des Cordeliers
6 Rue de l’Hôtel Dieu, 21200 Beaune
+33 3 80 24 53 78
Hours: mid-March to December 30: 9.30 am to 11.30 am and 2 pm to 5.30 pm; January 2 to mid-March: daily, except Wednesdays and Thursdays; closed December 24, 25 and 31, and January 1
If wine and architecture are your thing, another Beaune must is the gorgeous La Cave du Couvent des Cordeliers — founded in the 13th century, the oldest convent in the area. Similar to the Marché aux Vins, you can wander the cellars with your special souvenir tastevin (winemaker’s tasting saucer), taking in 5 Burgundy wines (8€, approx. $10), or simply wander the cloister, cellars and the stunning Chapter Room free-of-charge.
Les Halles de Dijon
Hours: Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays
If wine tasting makes you hungry, head to Dijon, the Burgundy region’s historic capital — and try to hit it on market day: Tuesday, Friday or Saturday. The gorgeous market hall, Les Halles, is made of metal and glass, and designed by Gustave Eiffel (indeed, that Eiffel). Local chefs shop here because of the wide range of seasonal and local produce and meats. The streets surrounding the market are also full of shops offering a wide range of products from clothes to food. Area restaurants offer “market menus,” showcasing the best of the market’s daily goods.
32, rue de la Liberté, 21 000 Dijon
+ 33 3 80 30 41 02
Hours: Monday – Friday, 10 am – 7 pm
If you’re already in Dijon, you must of course visit Boutique Maille [http://www.maille.com], the storefront of the French company best-known for its grainy Dijon mustard. Maille was founded in 1747, but can be traced back to 1720 — the height of the plague — when Antoine Claude Maille developed an antiseptic form of vinegar, with which residents of Marseille sprayed themselves, to keep disease at bay. Maille set up a shop in Paris in 1747; in 1760, he became the official supplier to the Austrian and Hungarian royal families; and in 1769, he became the official vinegar maker and distiller for the King of France. Today the company sells mustards, pickles, mayonnaise, vinegars and oils—most of which you can’t get at home, but will wish you could. (So, buy a bunch to bring back!)
Auberge du Vieux Vigneron
Route de Beaune, 21190 Corpeau
+ 33 3 80 21 39 00
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday
Similar to wineries: When it’s time to eat out in Burgundy, options won’t be your problem. If you want something a little off the beaten path, I highly recommend what I consider to be a hidden gem, the Auberge du Vieux Vigneron [http://www.aubergeduvieuxvigneron.com], in Corpeau, close to Beaune. Well-reviewed in the Guide gastronomique Gault et Millau (édition 2010), the Auberge offers a restaurant, and wine tastings, tours and sales, in a convivial atmosphere. You’ll need a car to get to this restaurant (and a designated driver), but the authentic French cuisine and impeccable, friendly atmosphere more than merit the short drive from Beaune.
+ 33 3 85 35 22 22
Hours: daily, 10 am – 6 pm
For wine buffs with kids, drive a little further afield, 75 min. give or take, to visit the Hameau Duboeuf [www.hameauduvin.com/#/en]. Described as “a theme park dedicated to wine and the vine” and covering over 30,000 square metres over 4 main sites, the park offers wonderful insight into how wine contributes to the region’s heritage, culture, science, history and employment. Explore the world of wine in the Wine Hamlet; learn about the famous Paris-Lyon-Mediterranean wine transportation rail route at the Wine Station; and tour the Winery itself, part technology, part tradition. The on-site Beaujolais Garden features flowers, barks, fruits and spices, as well as children’s activities (in warm-weather seasons). There are also restaurants, shops, a cinema and a golf course. All in all, it’s more than enough entertainment for every member of the family on a full day out. Admission is 19€ ($24) per adult, 10€ ($13) per child — though one child is admitted free for every paying adult.
7 Place Champ de Foire, 21460 Époisses
+ 33 3 80 96 44 44
Finally, something for the cheese lovers: about an hour outside Dijon, you most definitely need to visit the town of Époisses, famous for its Époisses de Bourgogne — a strong-smelling, unpasteurized cows-milk cheese. Here is the ideal spot to source picnic staples before a day’s countryside drive. A great place to start is the Fromagerie Berthaut, though (sssh!) we found the cheese in the local supermarket, too!