Beaune is Burgundy’s wine capital. A great place to base yourself if you wish to explore the legendary vineyards of the Cote d’Or. We arrived in Beaune two days earlier than planned, and could not get an extra two nights at the hotel we were booked at. So we checked into the Hotel Le Cep for two of the four nights. On arrival we were greeted by the Owner and General Manager Jean-Claude Bernard, who even made the dinner reservation for us that evening himself. The hotel fuses together 14th and 16th century buildings, with an elegant little courtyard that dates back to 1547 where our delicious breakfasts were served.
The 1 Michelin Star restaurant Loiseau des Vignes is just beside the hotel, serving regional gastronomical delights. The service at the restaurant was very personal, the chef Mourad Haddouche was very hospitable and came to check on us during dinner. The food was delicious, beautifully plated, and full of flavour using fresh seasonal produce. The poached eggs meurrette starter is a Burgundy specialty done with a Bernard Loiseau style red wine sauce. My starter of Green Asparagus baked in a Spring Brioche was a total delight with fresh crisp asparagus and the combination of a mousseline sauce, blueberry jelly and Iberico Ham. There are 70 different wines by the glass to choose from for your meal. Our main dishes were very flavourful and beautifully plated. Followed by a large cheese tray and my favourite part of the meal, dessert, a heart stoppingly good Rose des Sables Bernard Loiseau, delicate chocolate biscuits and a rich chocolate ice ceam and orange coulis.
Right in the centre of Beaune is the Hôtel Dieu which houses the Hospices de Beaune. Built as a hospital for the poor in 1443 by Nicolas Rollin, Chancellor to Phillip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. The roof is covered in the glazed multi coloured tiles that is popular in the region. The donations of vineyards to the Hospice today covers 53 hectares and a famous charity wine auction every year reaps in a lot of funds to the three charities they support. Take a tour through the building with an audio guide to learn more about the history of Rollin his wife Guigone de Salins and the Hospice de Beaune.
Place Carnot has lots of boutiques, wine shops and restaurants and cafes. The Ramparts which were built between the 15th and 16th centuries are quite well preserved and you could do a wall walk for about 2 km. The Collégiale Basilique Notre-Dame on Rue d’Enfer was built between the 12th-13th Centuries in a Burgundian Romanesque style, with Gothic elements added later. Also within walking distance is the Hotel de Ville, CIty Hall. After two nights feeling completely at home at the lovely Hotel Le Cep we reluctantly checked out and moved into the Hostellerie Le Cèdre. The welcome wasn’t as warm as Le Cep, but the room we had was elegant and very comfortable. We had dinner at the 1 Michelin Star Le Clos du Cedre. The setting was magical under the giant cedar trees, overlooking a wine grower’s beautiful 19th Century Mansion. The food and service at the restaurant was impeccable. I was also happy to see a woman Sommelier, a rarity in fine restaurants. We did think it was a pity that the chef did not come out to say hello. We found the atmosphere in the hotel lacking in warmth and hospitality except for one member of staff named Mathieu, they were not very friendly at all. Our choice the next time would be Hotel Le Cep.
On our last evening we took a recommendation from a local and dined at L’Ardoise at 14 Rue du Faubourg Madeleine. A small restaurant with a friendly and casual atmosphere. I had a delicious and hearty Boeuf Bourguignon to end my last evening in Bourgogne. This has been an amazing journey, through the beautiful old wine heartland of Burgundy, Rennaisance, Romanesque and Gothic Architecture, of superb food and wine, Museums and gorgeous landscape and as in all of France, charming villages and an enjoyment of the good things in life. That joie de vivre that pulls us back to France, again and again.