Beaune is a delightful Burgundy city famed for its position among swathes of vineyards and as having a multitude of stunning medieval architecture. Best-visited between May and September when the weather is warm and the rich Bourgogne reds can be tasted in situ (i.e. quite literally within the grounds of the vineyards themselves), the French settlement makes for the perfect base from which to take excursions to explore the wider region. Here’s your complete guide to the best of day trips from Beaune you’ll love to take!
But first, a little look at exactly why you should base yourself in Beaune for a few days (or even longer if you have the time). Situated somewhere on the train line between Chalon-Sur-Saône and Dijon, the settlement is home to a wealth of quintessentially Burgundy architecture, excellent foodie spots, and, of course, the Hospices de Beaune, a medieval hospital turned museum. And if you’re wondering what kind of accommodation Beaune offers to visit, here’s a complete Beaune hotel guide.
A delightful tiny town which is home to its own Cassis producing factory (Le Cassissium), the sleepy settlement of Nuits-Saint-Georges is home to a population of around just five and a half thousand and is surrounded by swathes of lush green vineyards (though these are best enjoyed in the late summer months).
Easy to reach as a day trip from Beaune, the train trip takes just over half an hour and the Nuits St Georges station is just a ten-minute walk or so from the town centre. Other than sampling the Cassis (a sweet syrup which comes in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic forms), elsewhere in the town you’ll soon discover several churches and some typically Burgundy architecture.
While on a day trip to Nuits-Saint-Georges, it’s perfectly possible to walk through the vineyards from Nuits-Saint-Georges. The pleasant stroll takes around twenty to thirty minutes and allows you to wander among the world-famous grape vines. What is perhaps most interesting about the vineyards of Burgundy is that they are all marked out into tiny plots known as ‘climats, terroirs of Burgundy’.
Of course, the most famous of these is undoubtedly that of Romanée-Conti, which consistently produces the most expensive wines in the world. The vineyard is just a short stroll from the village of Vosne-Romanée and is marked by a plaque and cross. Once in Vosne-Romanée (which is a truly tiny village!), there is little by way of attractions with the exception of the number of ‘dégustations’ around town.
As one of the larger cities in Burgundy, it’s clear to see that Dijon has no shortage of things to see and do. While best-seen over the course of a long weekend so as to soak up all the sights, discover the many museums the city has to offer, and of course, explore all of Dijon’s hidden gems (did you know that Gustave Eiffel was born here?), Dijon is also an easy day trip from Beaune if you happen to be short on time.
Beaune to Dijon takes just forty minutes and the train stations in both Burgundy cities are pretty central, meaning that you won’t lose valuable exploration time. Once in Dijon, some of the very best things to do include sampling the local piquant sauce (yes, Dijon mustard), visiting the Cathédrale Saint-Bénigne de Dijon, and climbing to the very top of the Tour Philippe le Bon.
Countryside wine tour/ Beaune day excursion
If you’re looking to enjoy the wines of the Grands Crus but don’t have access to a car then fear not because it’s still a possibility! For example, this full-day trip from Beaune comprises of 10 Burgundy Wines Grand Cru and lasts for around eight hours.
En route, you’ll not only sample some of the local tipple, but you’ll also get a guided tour of Clos Vougeot and Côte de Nuits. The visit also includes the chance to see the town of Nuits-Saint Georges. Check availability and rates here.
As its name would suggest, the delightful town of Chalon-sur-Saône lies alongside the River Saône (one of the two rivers which meet at the city of Lyon), and is a mix of timber-framed houses, a historic cathedral, and a maze of cobbled lanes you’ll want to give yourself at least a full-day to explore.
Easy to reach by train from Beaune, the journey takes just over half an hour each way if you opt for a fast train. While in Chalon-sur-Saône, be sure not to miss out on the historical Tour de Doyenne, the Musée Nicéphore-Niépce (which is dedicated almost exclusively to photography), and taking the self-guided walking route around town (pamphlets detailing the route are readily available in the tourism office in the heart of the Burgundy city).
If you’re a fan of Burgundy wine, then no doubt you’ll have already heard of Mâcon, a Bourgogne city which lends its name to the appellation of the wines produced nearby. Thanks to a series of pastel-hued houses situated alongside the river front (of the River Saône), Mâcon is one of the most southerly of the Burgundy towns and has a distinctively Provençal feel.
Mâcon is also the birthplace of Born in the city during the late 1800s, he was both a poet and politician and grew to be one of the most famous Romantic poets in French history. During his turbulent career, de Lamartine was also a diplomat in Naples, Florence, and Rome. Today, you can reach Mâcon on a train from Beaune, with the journey taking approximately an hour and ten minutes each way.
If you’re able to rent a car (check the best car rental comparison prices here), then you must visit none other than the stunning city of Autun as a day trip from Beaune. Home to a wealth of Roman ruins, particular highlights of Autun include the Saint-Lazare Cathedral, the Théatre Romain (a roman theatre still in use today), and the Temple of Janus. The car journey from Beaune to Autun takes just under an hour.