As world travellers, we often tend to forget that there’s a lot to play with in our own backyard. Until someone comes for a visit and you get to introduce them to the beauty of your home base. When John was here in October, I decided to play hooky from work on a Wednesday and take a road-trip with him to Burgundy.
From Beaune to Cluny, a day trip in Burgundy
1h45 minutes north of Lyon is the city of Beaune, the heart of Côte d’Or and wine capital of the Burgundy region. We decided to make it the beginning of our tour. We left Lyon early, and head straight to the Patriarche wine cellars.
Turns out, wine tasting and road trip don’t really go hand in hand… so you need to get a little clever in your agenda in order to make the most out of it. My strategy:
drink taste first, then lunch, then drive.
Miles-long cellars under the city
The beauty of playing hooky on a Wednesday and being willing to drink wine before noon: we were the first visitors there and had the pleasure of roaming around the cellars by ourselves. The interesting thing about this location is that for a €17.00 fee, you can visit the miles-long cellars at your own rythme, guided by digital kiosks spread along the way. Many times around, you’re also facing a welcoming barrel with a wine to taste from the lowest (but already delicious) category (regional) to premiers crus. Three whites and seven reds later, I’m fully aware that I could spend the rest of my life drinking Puligny-Montrachet (the white) and Gevrey-Chambertin (the red) and be content.
But alas, one cannot spend their lives underground drinking Burgundy wine… So we headed for a visit of Beaune and burritos found on the farmers market. I had to drive, remember… And they’re much more filling, unexpected and memorable than the classic escargots!
The Côte d’Or and La route des grands crus
From Beaune to Santenay, we decided to follow a set itinerary known as the route des grands crus, that navigates though some of the most famous Burgundy vineyards.
Because I’m always looking for the road less travelled, and because all that golden vine attracted me like a magnet, we decided to take the “bike itinerary”: smaller roads, deeper into the vineyards. There’s a reason why the region is called “Côte d’Or” (gold coast), and that’s the amazing shades during the fall months. It was so breathtaking, that I became frustrated that no picture was doing justice to what I was witnessing.
As we made our way through villages with incredible names such as Pommard, Meursault or Chassagne-Montrachet, the poetry and the richness of Burgundy became obvious. It was late in the afternoon when we arrived to our last pit-stop: Cluny.
Cluny, and still no visit of the abbaye
I had tried to visit the Cluny abbaye once before. And we arrived too late to make it worth our while. Turns out, getting lost in the beauty of the Côte d’Or, this second time around was too late also. Darn, I’ll really have to come to Cluny early in the day once in my life!
So, as I did with Magali a few month earlier, John and I climbed up the “Cheese tower” and took in the wonderful sight of the Burgundy land, before strolling around the medieval town.
On a Wednesday, not many tourists roaming around the streets and, except for the camera, tripod, and other photography material we carried around (i.e. my iPhone), we felt like locals.
An-hour drive later, we’re back in Lyon, left with incredible images and the taste of Burgundy wine.