Things to Do in Beaune
Also known as Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune to locals, the Hospices de Beaune used to be an almshouse in the 15th century and was used as a hospital for the poor people of the region recovering from the Hundred Years’ War. It was actually used as a fully functioning hospital until the late 1970s; it now houses a museum and a major charity wine auction every November.
The building itself is now regarded as one of the finest architectural gems in France; it was designed by the Flemish architect Jacques Wiscrère, which explains the striking resemblances to architecture typically found in the Flanders region of Belgium. The hospices’ façade is an exceptional example of Northern Renaissance architecture and features an abundance of panel painting, long half-timber galleries and, of course, the signature gabled roof and its multi-colored and geometric tiles. There are also plenty of ironworks, carvings, and tapestries inside the hospices’ walls.
This family-owned yet sprawling estate winery, whose cellars are located in the city of Beaune, are geared towards quality and not necessarily quantity. What makes this winery special is its owner’s background; Yvonnick Debray spent 20 years of his life selling Burgundy wines on the French market, and therefore acquired a wealth of information about wine production and the art of being a wine-maker. Domaine Debray produces several wines, reds and whites, belonging to a variety of appellations including classics like Bourgogne Aligoté and Hautes Côtes de Beaune, as well as one Grand Cru, the Corton Charlemagne. The winery is extremely respectful of the soil and only picks grapes by hand; wines are vinified in French oak barrels directly on the estate.
TheFallot Mustard Mill (La Moutarderie Fallot) is the first museum in France to be entirely dedicated to mustard, the renowned condiment that has become the pride and joy of the Burgundy region. Inside the museum, visitors will find a selection of modern and ancient tools that were used to create mustard and its derivative products, revealing many surprising trade secrets along the way. The multi-sensorial and interactive exhibits explain everything from the manufacturing process to the tasting criteria; visitors are even encouraged to test their own knowledge of mustard through different experiences. The museum offers two different guided visits: the first one, called Découvertes, is more traditional and features a mixture of commentary and videos in the museum. The second one, called Sensational Experiences, takes visitors inside the actual production facilities in order to get a better understanding of the process and the challenges the industry faces today. The real highlight, however, is the “mustard bar” inside the Espace Faillot gift shop, where visitors are encouraged to taste as many mustards as they like.
Moutarderie Fallot has been in operation since 1840 and is now the only remaining artisanal mustard producer in Burgundy.