My wife a I will be going to these towns in France this fall for our first time. I could sure use some help on how best to see the area. Do we need to hire a tour guide to get into some better tastings or can we do as well on our own with a rental car. We are not sure where to stay for 3-4 nights in each town. Lastely should we plan on bringing back wine on our own or can we get most of it here back in the states?

Re: Beaune it mostly depends on which producers you would like to visit. In any case not sure a tour guide can really get you any appointments you couldn’t have arranged yourself. From what I understand from previous threads, the distributor/importer (via local shop, tasting group, etc.) is your best bet in this case.

Re: Avignon it’s a lot more straightforward, you should be able to get an appointment anywhere except Rayas or Bonneau, and I would assume that in quite a few places people speak at least the minimum English to get by. I’d get a rental car with a GPS (or bring your own GPS with maps of France) since this can be one of the most confusing wine regions, seeing as most addresses are “somewhere along that road”, that road being itself 5-10 miles long. But it’s manageable nevertheless.

Since it is your first time I’d devote at least half of the time doing touristy stuff. In Beaune just driving around the countryside, visiting Les Hospices, etc. In Avignon the center of town with Palais des Papes and so on is a must, as is nearby Pont du Gard.

What Guillaume said. Don’t forget that September is harvest, and folks are busy well into early October, so planning ahead to visit wineries is a MUST. And if you’re driving around, make sure you have plenty of water in the car and spit at each visit, so the cops don’t have any reason to stop you at the many, many DWI checkpoints around either town.

I love both of these towns.
Only rant is that Avignon can get really busy during rush hour and driving in-and-out can get stressful for out-of-towners. Back when we visited a few years ago, we were quite glad that we stayed just outside at the much quieter suburb of Villeneuve-Les-Avignon, a mere 15-minute drive across the bridge to city centre, or at least to the wall gate that’s nearest to the city centre. We were also able to park our car right by our hotel.

La Magnaneraie across the river near Villeneuve is a very nice place to stay for an Avignon visit.

La Magnanerie is great, been their twice. Staying in Villeneuve-les -Avignon was the way to go if you want to drive to the countryside most days. Plenty of dining options in Villeneuve.

With so many wineries having websites these days, it’s much easier than it used to be to book appointments yourself. It used to be you’d have to send a fax and wait a day, a few days or a week for a reply. Now the wineries in Burgundy and the Southern Rhone seem to reply much faster with emails.

My favorite hotel in Beaune is the Hotel de Beaune, but I can’t afford that, so I stay at the Belle Epoque, just outside the wall surrounding the city center. It’s clean, quiet and they have rooms in the 100 euro range. I’ve also stayed at Le Cep, but to me it’s overpriced. Plus a friend of mine had 1,300 euros stolen from his suitcase at Le Cep, so I haven’t been back there–just a bad memory. Hotel de la Poste looks nice from the outside, but I haven’t stayed there. Lots of friends I know have rented houses in and around Beaune. There’s also a beautiful bed and breakfast in Beaune called Le Jardin de Lois.

I always rent a car in Beaune and Avignon, but once we hired an American sommelier working in Avignon to take us around for a day. That worked out very well, as he got us invited to a CdP winemaker only lunch at La Mere Germaine in Chateauneuf.

We loved Les Jardins de Lois B&B in Beaune. Great location, very, very friendly people, great garden area, nice breakfast and wonderful rooms. Many great places to eat within a few minutes walk. We’lll be returning as soon as we can justify the trip!


Just another recommendation for Jardin de Lois. What a lovely place! I think our shower stall alone was bigger than a typical European hotel room. Incredible value.