I cannot believe so much beauty lies just two hours from Geneva and it took us so long to visit. This seems to be a common theme around these parts, which is why we’ve stuck closer to home this summer.
To ring in my 31st year two weeks ago, we rented a tiny French car and headed to French wine country. The Côte d’Or to be exact. There we found sprawling vineyards dotted with bright poppies. Cobblestoned streets, fantastic restaurants and robust white wines. As a sadly non red wine-drinker (a migraine trigger), I was worried that I would have nothing to drink in a wine region where reds are so popular we named a color after it. Yes, that is where the color burgundy comes from. Boy was I wrong.
Beaune lies in the heart of Burgundy although Dijon is much more cosmopolitan. If you have one weekend, stick to Beaune. If you have more time, split your time between sleepy Beaune and lively Dijon–a gorgeous, 30-minute drive separates the two.
We stayed in an apartment in the heart of Beaune’s Old Town, which was perfect for walking to dinner, the Salvador Dali Museum and some tasting rooms. (If money were no object, we would have stayed across the street at Hôtel le Cep.)
We kicked off the weekend with a tour of Maison Joseph Drouhin. It’s a good place to start if you don’t know much about the history of Burgundy. There, we were led through a dimly-lit underground maze of barrels and cobwebbed bottles. We tasted six wines in the cellar, comparing the quality of Premier Cru–which accounts for 18% of Burgundy wines–and Grand Cru–which accounts for less than 5%. Some bottles of Grand Cru are so rare and coveted, they sell for thousands of dollars.
On the advice of a local, we headed north out of town on the Route des Grand Cru. The small country road runs parallel to the A31 Highway through vineyards and tiny villages. Our GPS kept trying to re-direct us to the highway, but we would have missed out on so much beauty and the freedom to stop at whatever tasting room we found interesting.
My two favorite tasting rooms were Dufouleur Père et Fils and Au Clos Napoléon. Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte spent a great deal of time in Burgundy and actually required his soldiers to drink wines from the region to bolster their military prowess. Personally, I wasn’t able to do much after our roadside picnic.
Back in Beaune we found a cooking store that would have made Julia Child swoon: The Cook’s Atelier. I picked up a linen chef’s apron and a serious brass pepper mill. They also host cooking classes that I would have booked had I done my homework.
Saturday night we celebrated at a restaurant that now holds a spot on my coveted top ten restaurants of all time: La Lune. The intimate restaurant has four tables and a wooden bar wrapping around its tiny kitchen. We reserved two seats at the bar where we could watch the chef work. I had fried chicken and champagne for dinner and it was heavenly.
The photo above is not of La Lune, but of my husband looking about as French as he ever has. It needs to be documented. I hope you are exploring what’s in your own backyard this week…but for now, a few links: