September 6, 2019
Everybody, I think, has a favorite place. It could be someplace where you feel most at home (I think some people feel this way about childhood vacation spots) or where you envision yourself retiring. Or it could just be a place that you return to year after year.
For me, that place is Beaune, a town of about 20,000 people in the heart of France’s Burgundy region.
I can’t explain the pull Beaune has on me. I first came here over thirty years ago on a group bicycle trip. I’ve been in love with it ever since and have been back four or five times.
It’s a small town, with the center encircled by medieval ramparts. (Actually I don’t know if they are “medieval” or not, but they are old.) You can walk anywhere in Beaune within about ten minutes.
Its only major tourist attraction is the 15th century Hospice de Beaune, which was built to help poor sick people and continues in that function, more or less, to this day. But Beaune itself is at the center of one of the world’s great wine regions, and the merchants and distributors congregate here. The food — and of course the wine — is unbelievable.
The other major draw is the bicycling. Routes fan out from Beaune all over Burgundy. Some are relatively flat and wind through picturesque vineyards. Others go up precipitous ridges. We have tried most of them, with varied results.
While Beaune has more than its share of fine restaurants, it’s also great for cafe-sitting. Tourists from Northern Europe come through on their way to Provence or Italy. Many (like us) are superannuated. They stay for a night or two, consume some boeuf bourguignon and buy a case or two of Burgundy.
We will be here for a week, bicycling, sampling wines and just hanging out. We have established a schedule which involves joint activities in the morning — a bicycle ride or a car trip to a neighboring town — and work for me in the afternoon while W. does something on her own.
More posts on Beaune to come, with visuals.