History of Beaune
Located approximately 25 miles south of Dijon, this little fortified town with a population of 23,000, encircled like a wine barrel by its town walls and bastions, remains the centre of the Burgundy wine trade in the 21st century.
The wines, frequently called “quiet wines”, age and mature in the cellars of Beaune’s prestigious wine houses.
As the parliamentary capital of the Duchy of Burgundy in the 15th century, this city of art and history illustrates the spiritual, cultural and economic ventures of a province right in the heart of Europe.
Close to its town walls the Hôtel Dieu still atones for the sins of its founder and great servant of the “State of Burgundy”: Nicolas Rolin.
This world-famous site receives over 400,000 visitors per year and has every right to be proud to possess and exhibit a masterpiece of Flemish painting: the polyptych of “The Last Judgement” by Roger Van der Weyden.
As you are wandering through town, watch out for “Rue Paradis” (Paradise Street) and “Rue d’Enfer” (Hell Street) with the former Residence of the Dukes of Burgundy (nowadays converted into the Museum of Burgundy Wines), between the two.
Just a stone’s throw away you will find the “Collégiale Notre Dame”, the Collegiate Church of Our Lady, also known as the last daughter of Cluny Abbey.
The town centre with its old houses and narrow streets recalls the history of Beaune, an era of religious Orders, of merchants, and servants, of aristocrats, but also of artists, Félix Ziem, for instance, painting Venice and Jules Marey, one of the fathers of modern cinema.
Situated at an important motorway junction, Beaune can rightfully claim to be at the centre of Western Europe: all motorways, be it from the North, the South, the East or the West, lead to Beaune. And thanks to the Eurotunnel, the UK is only a few hours away on the A31, A6 and A36.
Every year in July, Beaune is the host of the “Rencontres Internationales de Musique Baroque et Classique” international Baroque music festival. Its reputation and its audience have made this festival one of the most important and prestigious in Europe.
Ever since its origines in 1983, the Festival has continued the musical tradition of the court of the Dukes of Burgundy, considered one of the most glamourous at its time.
Last but not least, the famous Wine Auction of the “Hospices de Beaune” has to be mentioned, an absolute “must” for professionals in the wine trade and wine lovers alike. It takes place every year on the 3rd Sunday of November, keeping alive a tradition which dates back to the middle of the 19th century. Do not forget to make a note in your calendar!