We wandered into Beaune for lunch, to enjoy the jazz festival echoing through the street, and grabbed a patio seat at Le Galion for some beef tatare, beef bourguinon and pottage aux legumes, paired with a nice fruity rosé wine from the region. The view across from the bistro was Chapelle St. Etienne, a small 17th century church, in which we discovered a wine tasting display. The various characteristic aromas and flavours of white and red Bugundian wines were isolated in to giant “nose bowls”. Bowl after bowl helped clarify with our noses what our tastebuds had been already experiencing!
Beaune’s old centre is a tourist heaven, offering plenty of shops with local goods over and above wine – mustard from Dijon, Crème de Cassis liqueur, macaroons (very different than the chocolate and coconut macaroons in Canada) and other dessert delights, perfectly sculpted terrines, cheeses and pastries just to start. Beaune is very active culturally, with music and arts festivals. During the evening, “flickr” art, essentially light shows, are projected on the historical monuments and light up the evening streets for the many out for casual strolls.
Beaune is also famous for its Hotel-Dieu, or Hospices de Beaune , which was founded in 1443 as a hospital and sanctuary for the poor. The traditional glazed-tile roof is an architectural feature of the region, known for the colourful pattern. Every year in November, a grand charity wine auction is held on site. Across from the Hospices is an amazing book store, Athenaeum, where I managed to find an excellent Burgundy wine book and some maps!
And the day would not be complete without more wine-tasting. We were again in luck for a special experience in the evening, Pierre’s father Jean-Claude invited us to his personal cellar, in Mersault south of Beaune. Welcomed by Jean-Claude, as well as Pierre’s wife and their daughter Lily, we enjoyed very special vintages from the cellar that covered decades ~ 1963, 1986, 1989, 2001, 2005 among others. Oh, the hospitality of the Burgundian people! Tasting both weighty, mineral Chardonnays and some rare red Mersault, Jean-Claude was very generous in letting us glimpse decades of work, and how these wines age so gracefully over time.
Tips from the day~ Best Burgundy book: “Les Vins de Bourgogne” by Sylvain Pitiot et Jean-Charles Servant ~ is published in English too, but the maps in the French version are in colour and more detailed.