The very word Burgundy makes me drool a little, evocative as it is of silky, fruity, ruby red vintages. But as I discovered on my visits here, the region is large — and the Côte d’Or wine country comprises only a very small portion of it.
Cattle dominates the southern part of the territory, specifically herds of snow-white Charolais, known for their meaty flanks. When I saw these animals grazing on flat pastures, the origins of Burgundy’s signature dish — boeuf bourguignon, or beef cooked in red wine — became patently clear. Beef and wine. Wine and beef. They’re the region’s dominant products. Of course, there are many wonderful things to taste in Burgundy…
Where to eat in Burgundy?
My suggestions focus mainly on Beaune, the prosperous capital of the Côte d’Or wine region.
La Cuisine de Pépita (22 Faubourg Madeleine, Beaune, tel: 03 80 24 19 64) is a bright, cheerful restaurant with an accommodating staff. I enjoyed the “menu Bourguignon,” which offered Burgundy classics with a twist, including boeuf bourguignon sparked up with ginger and orange zest.
Ma Cuisine (Passage Saint-Hélène, Beaune, tel: 03 80 22 30 22) is a bustling bistro with a reasonable lunch formule. Though I missed the boeuf bourguignon — which seems to be offered only in the evenings — the salade aux gésiers was delightful, the earthy seared chicken livers contrasting with bitter mesclun greens. Don’t miss the ripe Epoisses cheese at the end of the meal; it practically ran off my plate. Reservations essential
Fromagerie Hess (Place Carnot, Beaune, tel: 03 80 24 73 51) is a gleaming cheese shop in the center of town. A wonderful place to stock up on Epoisses, fromage de Cîteaux, and other local cheeses for a picnic.
What to see in Burgundy?
Château du Clos de Vougeot was once the headquarters of the Cistercian order of monks who tended the sea of vines that surround the immense and haughty stone structure. Today the building is a museum and conference center, where you can catch a glimpse of the monks’ immense industry, evident in enormous 15th-century grape presses and cavernous fermentation vats. Warning: don’t come thirsty — not a drop of wine is sold here.
Maison du Charolais (43 route de Mâcon, Charolles, tel: 03 85 88 04 00) is a quirky museum dedicated to the history of Charolais cattle.
Where to sleep in Burgundy?
Villa Louise (9 rue Franche, Aloxe-Corton, tel: 03 80 26 46 70) is a charming hotel in Aloxe-Corton with quiet, wood-beamed rooms and beds made up with hand-stitched quilts. The breakfast is a little pricey (€15 at my visit) but delicious, with croissants, homemade jam and baked fruit.
Where to drink in Burgundy?
You could follow in Thomas Jefferson’s august footsteps, via my New York Times article.
Hungry for more? Today’s post is a companion to my new book, Mastering the Art of French Eating, a food memoir that Library Journal says “is sure to delight lovers of France, food, or travel.”
And more from the series, Where to Eat in France.