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Discover the Exquisite Burgundy Town of Beaune

Beaune is one of my favourite small towns in France. I’m there often because it’s a brilliant spot to spend a few days before or after a Burgundy barge cruise on the Impressionniste, La Belle Époque, Finesse and Prospérité – all superb barges that are in my top 10!

I read once that visiting Beaune and ignoring the wine would be like visiting Vegas and ignoring the casinos. Indeed, Beaune is all about wine; wine shops scattered everywhere through the town; the landscape surrounding it is vineyards, vineyards and more vineyards; and the ancient 15th century hospice that dominates the town centre raises funds for charity each year from a world-famous wine auction. Everyone in Beaune thinks about, talks about, dreams about wine!

The Hospice, or Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune (top photo), is the most famous building in town. You can’t miss its stunning northern Renaissance style colourful glazed roof tiles; you’ll see these all over Burgundy but these are the most beautiful example in the region. The original hospital building is now a museum and it’s a fantastic, must-do visit. Lots of fascinating gory tales of death and disease. They used to put 2-3 patients in each bed; disease back in those days was considered a punishment from God and doctors didn’t realise it could be spread by contact, so it was pretty much your bad luck if you got chucked in with someone with leprosy or smallpox! Men and women were mixed in the beds too; it wasn’t until Louis XIV visited in 1658 and was so horrified that he donated enough money to ensure separation of the sexes!

Beaune is an exquisite town – stunning architecture, the ubiquitous cobblestone streets, a cute weekly market, wonderful wine and really fabulous restaurants. And of course it’s surrounded by the world-renowned Côte de Beaune vineyards. A bottle of Romanée Conti can set you back $20,000 or so…! But don’t stress, you can buy superb Burgundy wine for a “normal” price. There’s literally thousands of winemakers in Burgundy!

I always stay at the Hotel Le Cep in Beaune. It’s gorgeous and has a beautiful little courtyard to relax and have a glass of… wine!

I highly recommend a visit! More about Burgundy to come… and here are the links to those barges I mentioned earlier: