Beaune and Burgundy

Trip Start Aug 07, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of France  ,
Wednesday, September 13, 2006

After spending weeks in big cities we were excited about the prospect of being in the French countryside. We choose to base ourselves at Beaune (pronounced 'bone') which is located in the heart of Burgundy's wine country.

As we entered the town it was everything we expected of rural France. Narrow streets leading to central town square, lots of bakeries and fresh vege stores, little old ladies walking around with baguettes under their arms. That sort of town. On top of this the 'old town' still had its original city walls complete with turrets and river running around it (the moat) so it was very picturesque. We spent our first day there wandering the streets, sampling the many pastries and gelatos, drinking the odd bottle of local wine and generally letting ourselves wind down.

Then it rained...

You don't really think of France as being a wet place, but man did it rain. We had two days of on-and-off rain and it really started to grind us down. The first days rain wasn't so bad... until the tent broke. We still can't figure out quite what happened. The tent was fine, we went away to clean our teeth and by the time we got back the centre pole had snapped! Keeping the water out was a real challenge. (Almost as challenging as keeping Liz in a good mood.) In the morning Jonny worked wonders and fixed the tent (with a hacksaw and the help of the local shoe maker) and the rain even subsided for the majority of the day. We spent the rest of the day in a wine tour that ran under the streets of the town. It was self-guided, meaning they actually trust you to only sample each wine once! The cellar was amazing - there was even a 12th century tomb that used to contain 12 bodies. (Not sure what they've done with them now though.) The wine tasted pretty good, most of it was red, which tastes completely different to New Zealand or Australian reds. Some of them were down right weird. As we stepped outside ready to enjoy the small vineyard garden, the skies opened and emptied buckets on us. It turned into a real thunderstorm, with rain gushing down the street and pouring off shop awnings. Thankfully the rain eased and Jonny figured out that we were getting lots of puddles around the tent coz we were in a slight dip in the ground. After minor readjustments we repaired to a local pub the pass the evening and savour the dryness.

The next day we woke to a glorious day and decided to extend our stay in Beaune. Being wine country we thought it would be fitting to do a vineyard tour by bike. We found a great place that hired bikes and gave us a route and the best vineyards to visit (i.e. the free ones). We spent the afternoon hopping from village to village, vineyard to vineyard sampling the local drops and enjoying the sun. A lot of the tasting rooms were situated in massive chateaus or in underground cellars, which were worth the trip alone. The countryside was stunningly beautiful and with rivers, old buildings, and lush vines visible in every direction. We did a loop, which was about 20km, and in that area there was 200 wineries to choose from. The roads were dead and we took a packed lunch with us with olives, fresh bread and pastries that we bought at the morning market. Anyone jealous yet? The first winery we stopped at was undoubtedly the best. The owner, a lovely man named Pierre, greeted us at the door. He gave us a quick tour of the cellars and the bottling room, explaining all about the wine and how it was made. When he found out we were from NZ he compared everything to NZ wine growing techniques and explained why there were different flavours from the same grape variety. When we got tot the tasting room we were in for a real treat. Normally you'd expect one or two tastes, but we had eight! Jonny kept thinking it was over and was stunned every time he told there was more to come. Rather than just have red wines, this one had whites, reds, sparkling and cassis. The sparkling was the best one Liz has ever had and she insisted on buying a bottle (which, of course, Jonny now has to carry around!) The cassis was also very good, considering we don't normally like it. (Much better than the one we had a Liz's birthday Martin!)

We also came across the weirdest toilet we have ever seen. We're used to public ones not having toilet seats over here, but this one didn't even have a bowl! It was a hole in the ground with two foot pads! It had nice ceramic surrounds, but still! Ew!

We had a lovely time in Beaune but it was time to move on to our next stop. We had a boat to catch.....
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jonnyandliz on

Re: Wine Tasting
On the subject, are you guys going to Toast Martinborough? I got an email reminder about it today.

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