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The thick Burgundian fog sits low in the fields, rows and rows of vines quickly disappearing as the train speeds by. Sunlight cuts through in a gentle haze. We’re on our way to Beaune, France, in the countryside of Burgundy.
As quickly as it comes, it dissipates, sunshine full-force through the windows, cutting harsh shadows across our faces. It is warm, dashing hope across the landscape dotted with homes, villages impossibly small, and trees in varying states of undress. Spring comes earlier to some than others.
The streets here in Beaune are narrow, charmingly disorderly, built when there was abundant land, and no one needed to think about grids and economizing space. Facades, though darling, seem at times to tip dangerously, giving the buildings crooked smiles. The shingled roofs make up for it (but do nothing to ensure structural sound-ness), gleaming gold, maroon, green, and other colors and in many patterns. A signature of the region, they cause gasps of delight by turning up around unexpected corners.
I first visited Beaune, France during a semester abroad in Grenoble, at the start of the French Alps. It was a day trip, and I quickly filed it away as a must-revisit. For the art history lover in me, I was floored that I had stumbled upon Rogier van de Weyden’s “The Last Judgement” triptych in Les Hospices de Beaune.
It was that, plus the liveliness of the Beaujolais Nouveau, a wine harvest festival and auction that takes place every November, that sealed the deal for me. Beaune, France was now cemented as a treasured spot to come back to. And I did. This time around, I coupled it with a visit to Dijon, considered the capital of the Burgundy region. It was every bit as I remembered, and somehow, I left loving it more.
Things to Do in Beaune, France
- Musée de l’Hôtel-Dieu – rue de l’Hôtel Dieu, 21200 Beaune (Don’t miss Rogier van der Weyden’s triptych of the last judgement.)
- Musée des Beaux Arts de Beaune – Porte Marie de Bourgogne, Boulevard Perpreuil, 6 rue Poterne, 21200 Beaune
- The Cook’s Atelier – 43 rue de Lorraine, 21200 Beaune
- Ramparts (Easy to find and follow, will take you around the city with nice views.)
- Farmers market – Marché de Beaune. It overflows with fresh produce, flowers, cheese, meats, and all the other good things you would expect from a French market.
- Place Carnot – during the Beaujolais Nouveau, it’s like a fair with many vendors. This is where I tried frog legs for the first time (and last time).
Above all, I’d encourage you to just walk! My friend and I just wandered around, enjoying the architecture and ambiance of the city, stopping where we wanted. La beauté dans le quotidien!