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BEAUNE, Burgundy

I will be staying for a week in BEAUNE and would like to travel around Burgundy. I have rented a car for 2 days and will be on my own. I would love suggestions of beautiful small towns to see, as well as the abbeys of historic interest. I can get to wineries on my own, so I can spend the days I have the car just sightseeing.
Thank you!

Posted by
6879 posts

Hi,
With the car, you could head to
- Autun (Roman and medieval town), with a quick stop in La Rochepot (interesting chateau)
- Vézelay (12th c. basilica) and Fontenay Abbey (12th c. abbey) are more ambitious (further away) but could be worth it
- Or to stay close to Beaune, the Canal de Bourgogne area; D33 from Bligny sur Ouche to Ste Marie sur Ouche is very bucolic and the village of Chateauneuf is very pretty (despite the fact that the motorway is quite close), with a small medieval castle again

Without the car, definitely head to Dijon.

Posted by
1819 posts

This was several years ago, but we had a car and spent two days just going around to the small villages near there and having great food and wine.

Posted by
6487 posts

Besides Autun, Vezelay, and Fontenay Abbey, I'd recommend Semur-en-Auxois and Alise-Sainte-Reine. The latter is where Julius Caesar defeated the Gauls at Alesia, a decisive battle described in a well-designed museum.

The art museum in Dijon is very good, easily reached by train from Beaune.

Posted by
11130 posts

You can easily fill a few days visiting the wine villages north and south of Beaune. This a charming area to explore. The wine tastings were held in Beuane on our visits. One time we were there during the vendange which was fun to observe; there were beautifully set catering tables set up for the grape pickers.
The other section of Burgundy near Auxerre is too far to combine with Beaune. We stayed near Auxerre, then stayed in Vezelay and finally in Beaune. We have have returned to Beaune and Dijon , a nice place to break a trip from Paris to Provence.

Posted by
1232 posts

balso, why no car for Dijon? I am just beginning to plan a France trip, so am curious.

Posted by
6879 posts

You can take a car to Dijon, no problem, but since there is a quick, direct train from Beaune to Dijon and since the OP doesn't have a car the whole time, I would save Dijon for when I am car-less.

Posted by
4132 posts

If you will be in Beaune for a week I recommend renting the car for a few more days.

Beaune is friendly and charming but small.

By the way the area is great for cycling and there are routes of all levels of ease and difficulty from the rental shop. If it suites you you can plan a few days of local sightseeing by bike, a day trip to Dijon by train, and the balance touring in your rental car.

A suggestion:

Start in Beaune. It's worth part of a day. Not much more than that. I wouldn't stay there as long as you've chosen to, but that is, of course, your choice.

Head south to Tournus. It has an old abbey and an even older church, which was built before the Cluny-led explosion of church-building in the 13th century.

Head west to the Château de Brancion, a medieval castle.

Continue on to Cormatin, a village with an interesting château, surrounded by a moat, with beautiful gardens.

Take the back roads through the small towns of Saint-André-le-Désert and Saint-Bonnet-de-Joux and continue on to the N79 highway (part of the RCEA, a highway that connects central and eastern Europe with Atlantic seaport)..

Exit at Charolles, a medieval town with several towers and canals. This is a historically important village in the region, and is the type locality for the famous (in France, at least) Charolais cattle. There's a very good restaurant there if you're feeling peckish.

Continue on to Paray le Monial, a medieval town with an important basilica and other chapels such as this one and that one commemorating the revelation of the sacred heart of Jesus to a local nun, who is now a saint (along with the priest who advised her). Every summer, tens of thousands of pilgrims (pèlerins) descend on Paray le Monial for organized sessions, taking over much of the town and occupying dozens of huge tents erected in the large Parc du Moulin Liron, the site of a former grain mill operated by monks at the local abbey.

Head north to Autun, a walled hill town built by the Romans near the Morvan massif, a distinctive natural park. The Gauls of the area were relocated to Autun after the decisive battle between armies led by Julius Caesar (the Romans) and Vercingetorix (the Gauls) in an attempt to make them proper Roman citizens. There's a beautiful cathedral in Autun, as well as other religious sites, some of which have been converted to commercial use. There also are Roman ruins in the town.

From Autun you can head east into the wealthy wine-growing areas of the Côte-d'Or, such as Puligny Montrachet and Meursault, on your way back to Beaune.

Posted by
34 posts

WOW! This is so much wonderful information, thank you so much. I really only have 5 full days. One will be spent with an official BEAUNE “greeter” (volunteers who show visitors their city), one in Dijon, easily accessible by train, and 2 full days with the car. I’m sure I can find some wonderful wineries to while away the last day.

Posted by
1321 posts

I second the biking. There are a few great bike shops that will outfit you including great route options for whatever level cyclist you are from pure recreational to expert. It was a great way to visit the vineyards up close!!!

Posted by
34 posts

I would love to bike around the countryside but unfortunately I had surgery 2 months ago and am worried I’m not fit enough. But if you know an easy quick route, I’d give it a try!

Posted by
2916 posts

Some of the most spectacular places to visit are not far from Beaune: Chateauneuf-en-Auxois, Semur-en Auxois, and Flavigny-sur-Ozerain. I wrote a little bit about these places on my blog (as well as many other places in Burgundy, as we've visited there many times): http://mainelywinenews.blogspot.com/

Posted by
1368 posts

Perouges:
Medieval town, 3 different Three Musketeer movies have filmed here
Park near Catholic Church, Eglise Saint Marie Magdalene

Posted by
1825 posts

Rent an electric bike! You could even take a group bike wine tasting tour and with an electric it would be easy. All the small villages around Beaune have famous wines and the villages are wonderfully french. If you look at a map it reads like a really expensive wine list.

Posted by
34 posts

Thanks, Richard. This is brilliant! I just booked a half day tour on an electric bike.

Posted by
1321 posts

Posie 54 - please come back and tell us how you did! It was brilliant to recommend the e-bike!

Posted by
12172 posts

When I went through Burgundy my stops were:

(north) Vézelay, Avallon, Semur-en-Auxois, and MuséoParc Alésia (edit: forgot Fontenay). I briefly visited some other small towns that I can't recall the names. One town is prettier than the next, I don't think you can miss. Semur was my favorite of the group.

(south) Dijon, Beaune, Autun and Bibracte museum. Of the group Beaune ranked lowest for me. It has great sights but I prefer medieval and Beaune architecture is much later (seems 17/18th century).

In Beaune, make sure you have reservations for restaurants. I don't normally get reservations but I'd say anyplace worth eating at in Beaune requires reservations. The restaurants with seats available aren't good at all. Either when you book or when you arrive, have your lodging help you make dinner reservations. They will know which restaurants to book.

Posted by
1825 posts

Good job! We spent two days riding e-bikes on the wine trails and look forward to going back. Next time it'll probably be regular bikes so we slow down and see more. (That and we got a Peloton and are in a lot better shape.) For anyone not sure about fitness level they are tremendously fun. Do some tasting in town to get some background before you head out.

The restaurants with seats available aren't good at all.

I would disagree with that. Perhaps in the most tourist-laden area that might have some validity if one is unsure how to pick a restaurant, but as a general rule, no.

Posted by
1825 posts

As to reservations in Beaune... I had the same experience as Brad and found that without reservations I was very limited in my choices. Le Bistrot Bourguignon was always available and decent but the fact that is was available says it all. Places that serve food at the bar (and usually don't reserve those seats) would be ideal for a solo traveler like the OP.

Posted by
1825 posts

I'm embarrassed to say I don't have restaurant recommendations but it's how I know that you'll want reservations and to plan ahead. It's gonna screw up my logistics on my next trip but Beaune/Burgundy is the one place my wife and I are set on revisiting. I'd use Rick's suggestions along with the rest of the info in his guide.

No -- I don't have any recommendations either.

Beaune is a tourist spot. Locals (people who live in Bourgogne) don't go there much unless they're looking for a specific item. So you'll probably get better advice from tourists who have been there than from a resident of the area.

That said, Gault&Millau and Michelin would be good places to check for restaurant recommendations.

Posted by
771 posts

We ate at La Table du Square in Beaune, near the rampart walls, about a 10 minute walk from the center. It was very good, and our small group seemed like the only tourists there. We made reservations the day before.