La Joie de Vivre in Beaune

La Joie de Vivre in Beaune

b2ap3_thumbnail_Beaune-Wine.jpgEnchanting, historic Beaune should be on your list o towns to visit if you will be traveling near or in Burgundy. This is a picturesque, small, walled city filled with many charming

sites. Wandering down this ancient town's cobblestone streets, you'll discover that its moat and many of its fortifications remain intact, including nearly half of its battlements and ramparts. Beaune is also a paradise for lovers of medieval architecture, with its Hospices de Beaune being its crowning glory.


Although Beaune is a small town -- population 21,000 -- it is a very important wine making center and home to many fine restaurants and cafes, including four that have at least one Michelin star. In addition, this town -- which is located on the 30-mile route des Grands Crus, the Wine Route -- is also surrounded by numerous wine villages. So, not surprisingly, one of the most popular things to do while in Beaune is visiting the town's many wine cellars and tasting the region's spectacular wines.

Some of Beaune's other major attractions include:


Hospices de Beaune - the Hotel-Dieu
After the Hundred Years' War ended in 1453, Beaune struggled mightily under the dual burdens of famine and extreme poverty. To help the citizens in Beaune, the Chancellor of Burgundy, Nicholas Rolin, built the Hospices de Beaune, which was a hospital for the poor. The building he constructed was no ordinary structure. In fact, the Hospices de Beaune -- with its stunning multi-colored glazed tile roof -- is considered by many to be an excellent example of 15th-century French architecture.

Today, the original, ornately decorated Hospices de Beaune has been turned into a museum and is considered a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Beaune. In addition to its b2ap3_thumbnail_Beaune-Hospital-in-Burgundy.jpgpatterned tile roofs, this building also boasts gilded spires, dormer windows, and an arcaded courtyard. Its beauty has even earned it the nickname "The Palace of the Poor." One of the highlights of the museum is the Last Judgement Polyptych -- a large altarpiece -- which was painted by Flemish artist, Rogier van der Weyden.

The Hospices de Beaune is also the site of a well-known charity wine auction, which has been held annually since 1851 on the third Sunday in November. It is considered by many to be the world's most famous charity wine sale, and it attracts wine connoisseurs from around the world. The proceeds of this sale support the hospital, which has moved to more modern facilities but is still serving the public today.


Musee du Vin de Bourgogne
This wine museum is located in the Hotel des Ducs de Bourgogne, which was the former mansion of the dukes of Burgundy. The museum features many giant wine presses and other tools used in the wine-making business.


Place de la Halles
If you arrive in Beaune on a Saturday, you must visit its weekly market, which is located in the Halle, right across from the Hotel-Dieu. At this market, you'll find a large variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, sweets, wine, cheeses, and meats. There is also another market that is held on Wednesdays, though it is much smaller.


Baroque Music Festival
This festival, which was founded in 1982, is a celebration of Baroque opera. It occurs every weekend throughout July.


Church of Notre-Dame
Also known as the Basilique Notre-Dame, this church is located in the center of Beaune. The church was first built in the 13th Century in a style known as Burgundian Romanesque, but it also has additions from other periods, including a Renaissance bell tower. Admission to the church itself is free. There is a charge, however, to see the Basilica's amazing collection of 15th-century tapestries.


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