In our desire to leave Paris we decided on Beaune for the weekend of February 11th-13th – it’s a small wine town about 90 minutes out of Paris and highly recommended by my new favorite tour guide Rick Steves (who writes the guidebooks). “We” in this entry refers to me, Amy, Jose, Tricia, and Sarah.
Friday morning, we all met at Gare de Lyon to catch our train to Dijon. After a pretty hour-and-a-half train ride through the sunny French countryside, we arrived in the city to find that it is cold and foggy – needless to say a bit of a letdown. We rallied, however, and got Greek sandwiches for lunch followed by some delectable chocolate desserts from a nearby patisserie/chocolaterie. Then we wandered around Dijon for the afternoon, checking out a mustard shop, another medieval cathedral, and a park with a sadly still fountain. After the misguided choice to get a milkshake from Quickburger, we hopped on our train to Beaune.
Only about 20 minutes past Dijon, we arrived in Beaune and checked into our hotel, leaving poor Sarah out in the cold in our attempts to pretend to only have four people staying in our room. We got dinner at the Bistrot Bourguignon, where I had one of the region’s (Burgandy) specialties, boeuf bourguignon. Colorful and cozy, we had a two hour dinner complete with wine and dessert, so we went home happy with very full bellies.
Saturday morning we woke up, got pain au chocolats from a neighboring boulangerie, and headed into the center of town for the open air market. Not only were there numerous food sellers of all kinds (produce, cheese, saucisson, bread, candy), there were also clothes, housewares, leather goods, books, and all sorts of other things. We bought quite a picnic of baguettes, saucisson, olives, cheese, apples, clementines, nuts, and candies that we ate under a little pavilion next to a cute merry go round playing hits from the 90s. I also bought myself some lavender honey, which has been sweetening my tea ever since.
After wandering in some of the stores, we walked out to the edge of town to check out a park (with killer geese and swans) that abutted the vineyards. This park had an aviary with some pretty flashy birds, another merry go round, and goats and other small farm animals in a pen. Definitely more wildlife than Robbins Farm. Then we headed back into town for our wine tasting, which was fun, but a lot more serious than we were expecting – none of that chatty Napa Valley-ness at all. And one of the wines tasted like cheese – which was weird. After buying a bottle of the white we tried, in search of snacks we found A REAL GROCERY STORE!! WITH LONG AISLES!! And potato chips – so we snacked on those and chocolate bars hanging out in the room before dinner (yes, all we did on this trip was eat). Dinner that night was at a brasserie and I had coq au vin (another bourguignon specialty) followed by ice cream topped with crème de cassis (black current liquor) and Chantilly cream (one of the best things in this country). Post dinner we went to a …(wait for it)… British pub… in a French town… where they were playing Spanish music. Pretty wild combo, but a good time.
Sunday our tickets were booked for late in the evening, but we paid to move them up because there honestly isn’t all that much to do in Beaune during the off-season. So we hung out in the cafes in the train station in Dijon and got back to Paris by mid-afternoon. All in all, a pretty good weekend; but now we know to make sure there is stuff to do before buying train tickets to a random location.