Skip to main content

Vineyards, Burgundy, France

There have been occasions when glimpses of a place, from listening to someone speak of them, or in a magazine, a movie, or even a television program, have caused me to tuck the name securely away in memory, to be retrieved later for the impetus to go.  Rick Steves was the television traveler who had my attention with his segment about Burgundy.  And the name “Beaune” was the one that stuck.






Flash forward several years.  I had, by then, taken up walking through countryside along long-distance paths and waterways.  Mostly in England, but also in France where I’d walked for a week in the Loire Valley.  Deciding another walk in France might be just the thing and having abandoned hills, for the most part, for more level terrain, I decided on Burgundy and the towpath of the Burgundy Canal, a story for another time.  Plotting my course, I was thrilled to note that Beaune was not far off the canal and I committed myself to finally seeing this place that had fixed itself firmly in my imagination. 






Vineyards surround Beaune and are it’s reason for being.  I didn’t have a car, had just walked for a week so the thought of touring on a bicycle did not, at that moment, appeal.  But what would a trip to Burgundy be without more intimate contact with the grape than that seen from a distance or from a train.  Not usually one for tours, I found myself in the pleasant Beaune Tourist Office on the Boulevard Perpreuil, behind huge double wooden doors, in a building in line with the ancient wall that still surrounds much of the medieval center of this most beautiful town.  On offer, among many other things, were excursions by Land Rover into the vineyards, followed by a sampling of the famous product of the region.  The price was surprisingly modest, and there was one more space available, with 3 other English-speaking souls, on a tour later that day.  It seemed the perfect opportunity and so it was.






Our small group convened in front of the tourist office a couple of hours later and we set off in the open-sided vehicle, perfect for the purpose.  We headed off on the Route de Beaune and into the hills west of town, where villages have been scattered among the vineyards since the Middle Ages and, from my vantage point in the front passenger seat, I was introduced to the grapes that produce some of the finest wines on the planet.  






We pulled off a narrow lane and parked.  Our guide was a man of middle years who spoke impeccable English and, from his knowledge of the subject at hand and his wiry build, I assumed had been engaged in the art about which he spoke all his life.  As we walked among the grapes, he explained concepts of which I knew nothing, such as “terroir”, the variations in soil and weather that vary from plot to plot and give the wine of each it’s distinctive character.  And “appellation”, the name by which, by law, a wine may be called, based on it’s geographical origin.






We drove on higher into the hills and as we passed walled vineyards, our attention was directed to the names built into the stones that identified individual centuries-old fields, well known to wine connoisseurs.  When we reached a village at the top of the ridge we stopped to survey the countryside below and learned that the hillside ground was considered the best for the grapes, although the cultivated land extended into the flat valley of the SaÔne.






From the high ground, we drove down to the village of Pommard, not far from from Beaune, and parked in the center.  We walked across the main intersection, such as it was, then around a corner and entered the establishment of Jean-Louis Moissenet-Bonnard who would be our guide to the real meaning of wine, nose and taste.  Leaving the world of intellect behind, but informed by it, we passed through the cellar, past barrels and piles of bottles, into the welcoming atmosphere of the tasting room, where our education continued in a most pleasant manner. 




The six of us clearly enjoyed one another's company, as well as the reason we were there, and the time passed quickly.  After the wines were tasted, photos taken, wine bought and thanks given, we went out into the May sunshine.  On our walk back to the car, I took pictures of the village center and, in particular, noted the small 2 star Hotel du Pont to which I hope to return one day to continue my education.



To read more of PortMoresby’s contributions, click here.





Images (13)
  • wine1
  • wine2
  • wine3
  • wine4
  • wine5
  • wine6
  • wine7
  • wine8
  • wine9
  • wine10
  • wine11
  • wine12
  • wine13

Add Comment

Comments (5)

Newest · Oldest · Popular

It`s a great story, PortMoresby!  The kind of adventure that would appeal to me.  A week of walking sounds just about right.  And my knees are telling me to stop going into the mountains and seek flatter ground!


I`m curious how you arranged the transportation of your gear as you were walking from one place to the next.  Did you carry it all, or did you return to the same base every night?


And, I hope, there was some cheese to go with that wonderful looking wine!

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

This isn't the walking part, DrF, this is the drinking part.  I do plan to tell the story of the walk along the Burgundy Canal soon but the answer to your question about gear is, neither.  When I walk I carry a day pack, period.  I leave my bigger bag at a hotel, in Burgundy it was in Dijon, and just have essentials with me, a change and toiletries, any guides and maps I may want and little else, about 10 lbs. altogether including rain gear.  The less stuff, I've found over the years, the better the walk.  One time I had my bag moved from place to place and it was a waste of my money and effort for the people moving it.


Next Wednesday you can read my piece about walking in England.  You'll see my pack in 1 of the pictures.  It's all I need.  So I suspect, all you'd need.

Thanks for that extra info, PM.  But 10 pounds would just cover the water, bottle of wine and wheel of cheese I'd be carrying to sustain me on the journey.


But Lite is definitely the way to go if at all possible.  I look forward to reading the next piece!  I may yet pick your brains again about these journeys....which genuinely appeal to me.

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

Definitely carry water, but wine and cheese are everywhere you turn, no need to haul your own.


The key, of course, is not how much stuff you have with you, but how good the stuff is for the purpose.  In reality one might do with less than 10 lbs as everything I have in the way of clothing dries overnight.  But I like to change in the evening and get the rinsed out items hanging.  As with everything, there are methods, obvious when you know them but it took years to get them down.  And I continue to refine.  My idea of excitement, which some may understand, some may not.

Link copied to your clipboard.