Self-Guided Walking Tour of Beaune (with Maps!)

Beaune Hospice

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Located 40km south of Dijon and just two hours from Paris by train, Beaune is an easily accessible destination for a day trip or a weekend getaway of two or three days. This charming town lies at the heart of the prestigious Côte de Beaune vineyards and is celebrated as the Capital of Burgundy wines. Beaune’s architecture is another significant draw, with the old town home to numerous historical treasures.

The optimal time to visit Beaune varies depending on your interests: during the summer months (July and August), the weather is beautiful, making it perfect for renting a bike to explore the vineyards. In autumn (September, October, November), the vineyards are awash with golden hues, offering a stunning backdrop for visits. Winter (December, January, and beyond) is ideal for warming up with winery visits and wine tastings.

While in Beaune, don’t miss the chance to explore emblematic medieval structures like the Hôtel-Dieu, also known as the Hospices de Beaune. Additionally, take the opportunity to tour the surrounding vineyards and participate in wine tasting tours where you can savor a grand cru from renowned French wine appellations such as Pommard, Meursault, and Nuits Saint Georges.

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Porte Saint Nicolas, Beaune

Beaune Porte Saint-Nicolas
CC BY-SA 3.0 / GFreihalter

The name of La Porte Saint Nicolas is derived from a 13th-century church dedicated to Saint Nicolas, located to the north behind the gate, although it is not visible from the gate itself. Historically, this area was the quarter of the wine growers during the Middle Ages. The ceremonial gate that stands here today dates back to 1770, but the original fortified gate, complete with a drawbridge, had a storied past of welcoming numerous important figures. These included King Henri II, who arrived with Catherine de Medici, and King Louis XIII in 1629. A particularly grand entrance was made by Louis XIV and the Queen in 1669.

From 1770 onward, a new ceremonial gate designed by Dijon architect Nicolas Lenoir, also known as Lenoir Le Romain, began greeting visitors from the north. This gate was a part of an extensive city modernization project spearheaded by Mayor Mr. Maufoux, showcasing a move towards contemporary architectural styles and signaling the evolving identity of the city.

Location: Porte Saint-Nicolas, Rue de Lorraine, Beaune, France | Hours: 24 Hours | Price: Free
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Hôtel de Ville

Beaune Hotel De Ville
CC BY-SA 2.0 / ~Pyb

Walk past the arch down Rue de Lorraine and turn left onto Rue Maurice Emmanuel.

Originally, this building was part of an Ursuline convent, established by a Roman Catholic religious order for women founded in Brescia, Italy, in 1535 by St. Angela Merici. This order was notable as the first institute dedicated solely to the education of girls. The Beaune convent was established in 1626, aiming to provide education primarily to daughters of well-regarded Catholic families during a time when the Protestant Reformation was influencing significant religious and educational reform across Europe.

The space you see between the arches was once the convent’s cloister, which historically would have been enclosed by a fourth wall. However, the street next to where you are standing was created to provide access to the City Hall, resulting in changes to the original convent structure. This adaptation of the space reflects the evolving use and significance of the building within the community over the centuries.

Location: Hôtel de Ville de Beaune, Rue de l'Hôtel de ville, Beaune, France
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Sainte-Trinité de Beaune Hospital

Beaune Hospice De La Charité Extérieur
CC BY-SA 4.0 / GO69

Walk south along Rue de l’Hôtel de ville and rejoin Rue de Lorraine. Hospice De La Charité is on your left when you get to to the next junction.

The building known as the “Hospice de la Charité” across the street was established by the affluent couple Barbe Deslandes and Antoine Rousseau following several devastating plague outbreaks between 1628 and 1631. This charity hospice was originally founded to care for orphans left parentless by the plague. Today, it continues to serve the community as a functioning retirement home and is part of the broader network of the Hospices of Beaune.

Architecturally, the structure is a compilation of houses that date back to the late 15th or early 16th centuries. However, the chapel façade, which you are currently viewing, is distinctly from the 17th century, characterized by its restrained decorations such as vases, volutes (scroll-like shapes), and an onion-shaped bell tower, marking it as a period piece with significant historical value.

Location: 3 Rue Rousseau Deslandes, 21200 Beaune, France
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Tour de l'horloge de Beaune

Tour De L’horloge De Beaune
CC BY-SA 2.5 / A.C. Koelewijn

Continue down Rue de Lorraine and turn right at the Monument to Gaspard Monge. Gaspard Monge was one of Frances great mathematicians, mainly in the field of geometry. Born in Beaune in 1746 and died in Paris 1818. You can see the Beffroi de Beaunebeyong the statue.

The Clock Tower of Beaune, with its foundations rooted in the 12th century, represents a melding of architectural periods, with significant additions made in the 14th century. Initially constructed in the 1100s, the tower saw substantial enhancements three centuries later, including the installation of the clock.

In 1395, a notable transaction occurred involving Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. He negotiated with the monks of the nearby Abbey of Maizière, who were prolific wine producers and frequently sold their surplus, thus incurring taxes. The Duke proposed that the monks transfer ownership of the tower to the town of Beaune. In return, he offered them a tax exemption on the wines produced from their vineyards, which they used not only for sacramental purposes but also for additional revenue. This proposal aimed to relieve the monks from their tax burdens in exchange for the strategic tower, marking a significant civic and financial arrangement.

The tower’s most distinctive feature, the flamboyant lead decoration atop the belfry, showcases Flemish design elements. This stylistic choice reflects the historical ties between Flanders and Burgundy, as Flanders was part of the Burgundian territory at that time, influencing local architecture and artistry.

Location: Beffroi de Beaune, Place Monge, Beaune, France
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Notre Dame of Beaune

Beaune - Notre-Dame
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Johan Allard

Turn left onto Rue Notre Dame and you can see the Basilica in front of you.

The Basilica of Notre Dame in Beaune, constructed in the late 12th century, exemplifies Romanesque architecture, a style that was prevalent from around the mid-1200s to the 1400s. This architectural style draws heavily from ancient Roman designs, characterized by rounded arches and vaulting. The basilica is often considered a smaller counterpart to the grand abbey church in Cluny, located in southern Burgundy. The Cluny Abbey church was once the largest in Christendom until the construction of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome began in the 1500s, making it a model for many subsequent Romanesque churches in the region.

Despite its Romanesque roots, the basilica also features notable Gothic elements, such as tracery in the stained glass windows and flying buttresses that support the exterior walls. These Gothic features were added following a fire in 1273, during the subsequent repairs, which infused the original Romanesque structure with Gothic architectural elements.

Additionally, the church functioned as a collegiate church, meaning it was served by a college of canons. These canons, unlike monks who often live in seclusion, lived in a community centered around the church and were permitted to interact with the public, fulfilling both religious and administrative roles within the community.

Location: Collégiale Notre-Dame de Beaune, Place du Général Leclerc, Beaune, France | Hours: April to October: Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday-Friday and Sunday: 2.30pm-5.30pm - except during religious ceremonies / no admission on Saturdays.
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Maison du Colombier

Maison Du Colombier,Beaune
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Arnaud 25

Walk down the steps of the basilica and continue down Pl. du Général Leclerc. Stop when you get to Av. de la République, which you will be turning left into.

“La Maison du Colombier,” or the Dovecote House, derives its name from the slender opening at the top of its corner turret, which doubles as a stairwell. This feature historically allowed observers to watch the comings and goings of small birds. Originally, this house was situated along the banks of the Bouzaise River, a small river that meandered through Beaune. The present-day Avenue de la République now overlays what was once the natural course of this river, altering the immediate surroundings of the house but not its quaint, historical charm.

Location: Maison du Colombier, Rue Charles Cloutier, Beaune, France | Hours: Monday to Friday from 6 P.M.
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Musée du Vin - Hôtel des Ducs de Bourgogne

Beaune Musée Du Vin
CC BY-SA 2.5 / Christophe.Finot

Walk down Av. de la République and left down Rue Paradis. Musée du Vin – Hôtel des Ducs de Bourgogne is on your left through an arch.

The museum, a beacon of vine-growing and winemaking history, showcases the opulence of Burgundy’s viticulture and accentuates the distinctiveness of the Climats du vignoble de Bourgogne, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It serves as an informative hub with panels that elucidate the storied past of the venue, which was once the domicile of the Dukes of Burgundy. In 1946, this historic site was transformed into the first museum exclusively devoted to the history of wine-growing in Burgundy, offering visitors a deep dive into the region’s rich wine heritage.

Location: Musée du Vin - Hôtel des Ducs de Bourgogne, Rue d'Enfer, Beaune, France | Hours: Open every day from March 29 to November 4, 2024, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. except Tuesday Ticket office closes 30 minutes before the museum | Price: €6
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Hospices de Beaune

Côte-d’Or - Beaune - Hospices De Beaune
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Johan Allard

Continue up Rue Paradis and right onto Rle Gallien and right again onto Rue Monge. Walk across Pl. de la Halle to reach the Hôtel-Dieu Museum – Hospices de Beaune.

The Hospices de Beaune, also known as Hôtel-Dieu, are renowned for their striking roof adorned with colorful geometric tiles and their Gothic facades. Established in the Middle Ages as a hospital for the poor, this historic building now serves as a museum open to the public. Visitors can explore the treatment rooms, the pharmacy, the Gothic chapel, and the kitchen, which features large Gothic chimneys. Additionally, the museum houses an extensive collection of period furniture and tapestries, providing a glimpse into the past.

Aside from its historical and architectural significance, the Hospices de Beaune are also notable for their involvement in wine production. This is made possible by donations of vineyards over the centuries. The wine produced here is sold at the world-famous annual charity wine auction in November, which draws buyers from across the globe. The proceeds from this sale are used for the preservation of the building’s historical heritage and for enhancing hospital facilities. This event not only supports a good cause but also celebrates the rich wine heritage of the region.

Location: Hôtel Dieu, Rue de l'Hôtel Dieu, Beaune, France | Hours: 30/03/24 to 17/11/24 of 09:00 to 19:30 18/11/24 to 31/12/24 of 09:00 to 12:30 - of 14:00 to 18:30 | Price: Adults: €12, Children: €5 | Website | Beaune - Private walking tour
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Les Remparts de Beaune

Remparts De Beaune Grosse Tours
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Arnaud 25

Walk down Rue de l’Hôtel Dieu and turn left onto Rue Poterne and onto Rem Madeleine. Infront of you is the Tour de Billes, sat within the Grosse Tour.

The establishment of Beaune’s original fortifications, known as the Castrum de Beaune, marked a significant development in the town’s history. These formidable defenses were constructed with walls 5 meters thick and 10 meters high, incorporating about a dozen defensive towers and multiple gates to manage access to the area. The ramparts enclosed a perimeter of 450 meters, effectively safeguarding an area of 2 hectares.

The Tour de Billes is a watchtower, built at the end of the 14th century, it is enclosed within the Grosse Tour. The wood (billets) used for defence were stored here. It overlooks the former postern-gate, or Porte Belvent. The Grosse Tour is one of the four towers built in the early 16th century, it is decorated on the boulevard side with the coat of arms of the governor of Burgundy, La Trémouille. It played a role in monitoring the plain.

| Hours: 24 Hours | Price: Free | Website
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Maison des Climats


Continue along Rem Madeleine, you pass Tour des Poudres, a watchtower, built at the end of the 14th century, it was used to store the ingredients for making gunpowder. Only its top can be seen from the Chemin de Ronde. Walk down the steps at the end of the streets and right onto Rue d’Alsace and right again.

Opened in 2017 to mark the two-year anniversary of UNESCO’s designation of Burgundy’s vineyards as a World Heritage Site, this free interpretive center is located next to the tourist office and is an essential visit for anyone interested in French wine. The center features a 25-minute film and an array of bilingual educational displays that delve into the traditions of winegrowing in Burgundy and the specialized vocabulary associated with winemaking. Additionally, a striking 9-meter-long map provides visitors with an opportunity to closely examine the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits climats, the specific wine-growing parcels that define the region’s viticultural uniqueness.

Head back to Rue d’Alsace and walk up the steps onto Rem Saint James, you will pass Tour Renard, built between 1465 and 1477 the tower is pierced by loopholes (i.e. arrowslits) and topped by a domed roof of lava slabs. On 10 October 1888 it witnessed President Sadi Carnot’s triumphal arrival at Beaune railway station. The road turns into Rem de la Comédie and you will pass Tour Blondeau, probably built around 1465, the horseshoe-shaped Tour Blondeau boasts a fine vaulted ceiling with a central column. It used to be called Tour du Quarreau. Walk under the walls when you reach the Théâtre de Verdure. 

Location: Maison des Climats, Porte Marie de Bourgogne, Beaune, France | Hours: Open every day (except December 25, January 1 and winter Sundays) Summer (March to Oct): Monday to Sunday, 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Winter (Oct to March): Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. | Price: Free | Website
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