Beaune is a town in the heart of Borgongne (Burgundy) about a 20-minute train ride southwest of our homebase of Dijon. It is a town that honors the region’s centuries of wine making.
What also sets it apart are the walls that surround it—ramparts that were built, reinforced, and added on to between the 12th to 17th centuries.
We had the pleasure of visitng Beaune on a sparkling day in mid-May when the town’s outdoor market was in full force. This gave us the opportunity to visit the town’s cathedral Collégiale Notre Dame, as well as the UNESCO world heritage site of the Hospice de Beaune.
On any given Saturday in spring and summer in Beaune, beautiful buildings suround a lively outdoor market with a wide variety of items for sale, from lace tablecloths to cheese to rotisserie chicken.
Collégiale Notre Dame
While in France, we have had the opportunity to visit several towns and villages in Burgundy, and every one has had a church or cathedral. Beaune was no exception.
The Collégiale Notre Dame de Beaune is a beautiful 13th century chuch with Romanesque architecture. Inside are gorgeous windows of stained glass, as well as murals and tapestries dating back to the Renssaisance.
Hospices de Beaune (Hôtel-Dieu)
The centerpiece of Beaune is the UNESCO world heritage site of the Hospice de Beaune or “Hôtel-Dieu.” Fouded by Nicholas Ronin in the 15th century, the hospice served the sick, regardess of social status or the ability to pay. An audio tour helped us to understand the purposes of different areas of the buildings, including the kitchens and the “Room of the Poor” lined with beds for those needing care. Under Ronin’s leadership, the hospice was more than just functional; today, a visitor can still appreciate its great architectural beauty and colorful ceramic roof tiles. In addition, it houses beautiful peices of art like the polyptych (painted altar piece on three panels) of The Last Judgement by Rogier Van der Weyden (second photograph below).
Cote de Beaune (in Burgundy)
The Côte de Beaune is one of the great wine-growing regions of Burgundy. During our time in Dijon and the surrounding area, we have had the privelege of learning about the wine of Borgogne, including information about the types of grapes that are grown here and how wine is made (more about the wine of Borgogne in a future post). Suffice it to say, after understanding how special this region truly is, I could not leave Beaune without stopping in to a store for a wine tasting and a bottle of Pinot Noir.