Beaune Travel Guide (Burgundy, France) The charming small town of Beaune, the ancient capital of the Dukes of Burgundy, is a perfect location for those that are looking to explore Burgundy for its heritage & wines. The historic town is a treat to stroll through with its medieval houses and the most famous Hospices de Beaune that are located in the Hotel Dieu. The building, covered with the celebrate varnished tiles, is also where, every year, the Hospices de Beaune wine auction takes place. Inside, don't miss the famous polyptych of the Last Judgment by Rogier Van der Weyden. Other important sites of the town include the Notre Dame collegiate church, the town hall as well as the ramparts. ...
Beaune Travel Guide (Burgundy, France)
The charming small town of Beaune, the ancient capital of the Dukes of Burgundy, is a perfect location for those that are looking to explore Burgundy for its heritage & wines. The historic town is a treat to stroll through with its medieval houses and the most famous Hospices de Beaune that are located in the Hotel Dieu. The building, covered with the celebrate varnished tiles, is also where, every year, the Hospices de Beaune wine auction takes place. Inside, don't miss the famous polyptych of the Last Judgment by Rogier Van der Weyden. Other important sites of the town include the Notre Dame collegiate church, the town hall as well as the ramparts.
A bit of History
The origin town of Beaune can be dated back to the 1st century BP when the Romans decided to build a fortification that lied at the cross roads between two of their most important ways. One linked the town of Lyon to Trier (Germany) and the other linked the town of Besançon to Autun. The town became prosporous in the 12th century thanks to the wine trade and its urban area expands outside the castle walls, erecting remparts that can be still seen today. The town is at the time the Capital of the Duchy of Burgundy and the first Burgundian Parliament met at Beaune in 1227. The town then organizes itself around three major locations: the market square )that is today Place de la Halle), the Collegiate Church of Notre Dame (the old historical town center) and Place Carnot where the Parish Church use to stand.
The streets of Beaune have kept a number of houses and buildings that date back to those days, from Romanesque houses to 18th century private mansions. The town's past is also closely linked with religious life. Other than the Romanesque Clunisien style Collegiate Church of Notre Dame that dates back to the 12th & 13th century, a number of Abbeys and Convents still occupy a large proportion of the urban space. Today, most of the buildings belong to wine merchants who have found an ideal location to store their wines. The Hospitaliers religious order also left their print in the town of Beaune with the most famous construction being the Hôtel-Dieu, built in a Franco-flemish style, and that dates back to the 15th century. There is a second Hôtel-Dieu named Hospice de la Charité that is a good example of 17th century architecture.
Hotel Dieu des Hospices Beaune
The Hôtel-Dieu was a medieval hospital that featured vast halls for beds for the sick. Founded in 1443, the Hôtel-Dieu in Beaune is a two-storried construction that occupies three sides of a courtyard. In one of its wards is a Museum dedicated to Rogier Van der Weyden's great Alterpiece - The Last Judgement that was commissioned by Nicolas Rolin, the last chancellor of the Burgundian Dukes and the hospital's builder. The Hospital was built to help the persons who had suffered from famine and poverty after the Hundred Years War. As you visit, discover the kitchen, the pharmacy and the vast hall with its wooden beds and red curtains that maintained some kind of privacy. The Hospices is also famous for the wine auction it organizes each year with wine produced from 53 hectares of vineyards that were donated to the hospital through the centuries. This Charity Sale is held every year in November.
Basilique Notre Dame
Beaune, located on the way to Jerusalem, was a popular stop for all the pilgrims wanting to make their way towards the Holy Land. Because of the number of pilgrims that pass through the town in the 12th century is considerable, the Dukes of Burgundy decide to build a larger Church than the existing one, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The architectural style of the Basilica was inspired by that of Cluny. The largest part of the Basilica is in the Romanesque style. This sanctuary has kept rich furniture ranging from the Romanesque period to the 17th century. There are also important remains of 15th century wall paintings that you will discover during your visit. Notre-Dame de Beaune is known worldwide for its tapestries depicting Virgin Mary’s life; they are presented in the Basilica’s Choir. This exceptional collection dates from the 16th century. The major events in Mary’s life are evoked in successive scenes. This set of tapestries was restored by the Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune’s nuns in 1852.
One of the four towers built in the early 16th century, it is decorated on the boulevard side with the coat of arms of the governor of Burgundy, La Trémouille. It played a role in monitoring the plain by watching the Route de Verdun, the nearby Saone forming the frontier between the French kingdom and the Holy Roman Empire until 1678. Thus the guard saw the arrival in 1569 of the 40,000 Germans answering Condé's call, and then in 1636 the army led by Gallas that ravaged, pillaged and set fire to the faubourgs. Purchased in 1891 by the Maison Calvet from Bordeaux, it was used by this wine merchant as a prestigious tasting room before being acquired by the municipality. Its roof is laid out as a pleasure garden.
Beaune is also an ideal starting point for wine tours to the Burgundy wine producing areas. Coined the wine capital of Burgundy, it is possible to organise wine tasting session within the town. There is also a wine museum in Beaune, located in the Hotel des Ducs de Bourgogne. But true wine lovers will choose to head out towards the famed Burgundy appellations, in the heart of the burgundy wine regions of Côtes de Nuits or Côte de Beaune.
Our Wine Tours & Day Trips from Beaune
Our Burgundy private day trips include wine tasting tours to both côte de nuits and côte de beaune vineyards that are known to produce some of the best red wines and white wines in the world. A typical, exclusive half or full day private wine tour from Beaune with Ophorus, includes tours and tastings at famous wine cellars or wineries located along the Route des Grands Crus.
During the tastings, experience Grands Cru and Premier Cru Wines of Burgundy to understand the differences in aromas and tastes. For lunch on a private full day tour, your guide will certainly recommend local restaurants that specialize in food and wine pairing that will enhance your dining experience.
Our Burgundy small group shared tours departing from Beaune are a perfect introduction to the wines of Burgundy. On a half day or full day option, you will discover the craft of wine making in traditional family owned domains. All our shared tours also include stops in small charming villages as well as great photo opportunities in the vineyards or next to world renowned wineries.
If wine is not your priority, Burgundy offers the visitor a multitude of sightseeing options, such as the Palace of the Dukes, the gothic Cathedral of Saint Bénigne, the Romanesque churches of Burgundy, including the remarkable Abbaye de Vézelay (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Les Hospices de Beaune, a medieval hospital that was in use until the 20th century and now functions as a museum of Flemish art.
Whether you´re eager to sample Burgundy wines and discover what makes them some of the world´s most famous, wander the medieval streets and uncover Burgundy´s historical secrets, or a combination of both, Ophorus provides tours to meet every traveler´s need. Enjoy the attention of our professional, English-speaking guides and let us help you experience the best this region has to offer.