Nestled amongst the vineyards in the very heart of Burgundy, the city of Beaune is a picturesque town with cobblestone streets and plenty to see and do. Beaune is the hub of wine commerce in the region, and sits on the Route des Grand Crus that links many of Burgundy’s storied vineyards. On our barge cruise itinerary, Beaune features prominently as the home of the Hotel-Dieu, or the Hospices of Beaune, as well as an opportunity to visit French cafes and shops.
As a major attraction on our tours of the region, the Hospices de Beaune immediately draws the attention of visitors with its beautiful Burgundian roof, a restored version of the original. The Hospices was founded in 1443 by Chancellor Nicolas Rolin and his wife as a public hospital to serve the poorest residents of the region, funded by a grant from the Duke of Burgundy himself. A walking tour, narrated by an audio guide, takes visitors back into the early days of communal medicine in Burgundy. The massive halls, lined with beds for the sick, and the kitchen, pharmacy, and chapel that served the hospital, are all open to explore. One of the most memorable parts of the tour is the majestic "Last Judgement" altarpiece by Van der Weyden, that once hung behind the altar of the Hospices’ chapel; today, it is kept in a dark room to preserve the original artwork. The Hospices took patients until the early 1980s, and it hosts an annual wine auction that is fundamental to the local wine industry.
Outside the Hospices, the cobblestone central square often has a market with numerous vendors, and is lined with shops and cafes perfect for a relaxed stroll through town. Small boutique shops are excellent opportunities for exploration, where you can find everything from souvenirs to fine clothing. There are quaint cafes and bars that serve the drinks of choice for many of our guests, and they make for a relaxed break from the bustle of the streets.
Typically, our guests on our luxury barge cruises revel in the opportunity to explore French culture. With plenty of history and local flavor to experience, Beaune is a memorable excursion. If you like the idea of visiting a quaint town in the heart of Burgundy, get in touch with us today!