Wife and I are planning a trip to Europe for our tenth anniversary the first week of November. We are still trying to nail down the particulars. I have never been to Europe and kind of wanted to see 2 major cities, most likely Paris and one other, but we are also toying with the idea of a few nights in Paris followed by a few in Burgundy.
I know there are multiple threads about Burgundy travel, but had some very general questions. Basically I just wanted to get an idea of logistics. We would most likely go from Paris on Wednesday morning and we would be flying back Saturday (not even sure what city is easiest to fly back from). Wanted to see if people felt a 3 day jaunt was worthwhile.
My wife and I both really love Pinot Noir, but drink predominantly lighter styled California (Anthill, Rhys and Copain are favorites) She knows very little about Burgundy, and while I know a bit more, my tasting experience is fairly limited. Also neither of us speak any French. Basically I’d love to hear what people think as far as what part of the region would be a good spot to stay for first timers, and also maybe some producers who don’t mind English or are a little more agreeable to tasting with people who aren’t necessarily big time buyers (yet anyway).
Any recs for a good jumping off spot or even if advice on if the trip would be enjoyable for 2 non French speakers with limited time and limited knowledge of the wines would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Take a train from Paris to Beaune. There’s a Hertz location at a gas station within a short walk of the Beaune depot. You’ll be wherever you want to be Wednesday afternoon. Stay Thursday, Friday day, be back in Paris Friday evening.
You can easily visit Domaine Newman (Chris Newman is from New Orleans) and Jadot (owned by an American firm and I don’t believe they even sell their wine through their visits).
Definitely go for it. You’ll get the best of both worlds (city and rural). There are enough places you can visit in Burgundy without having to have major connections to make it worthwhile, though planning in advance and making appointments is still required/recommended (Bouchard, Drouhin, Jadot, for example). We’ll be in Burgundy the last week of October, not even going into Paris this trip, if that tells you anything But you should definitely spend time in Paris, it is my favorite city in the world.
Burgundy area is very pretty countryside, low key, great food, relaxing. You can get a very nice place to stay for what a mediocre place in Paris will cost (and pretty much any other major city in Europe).
Thanks for all the help so far, please keep it coming. Seems like most of the larger producers (Jadot, Faiveley, Bouchard, Drouhin) are in or around Beaune, is that the best spot to stay for 1st timers? I know some people have mentioned Dijon as a pretty central spot in other threads as well.
Also any smaller producers that are visitor friendly and speak English? Obviously a visit with Ray Walker would be a home run. As I mentioned my Burgundy experience is pretty limited but outside of the larger producers we have enjoyed wines from Dujac, Fourrier, Mongeard-Mugneret, and PYCM. We also enjoy a number of producers in Beaujolais and Chablis but since we’re dealing with a short trip thought it may be smarter to stick to a smaller area. Another question I had is how long visits usually last. I was thinking something in the order of 3 per day was probably appropriate.
Nicholas, thank you for the invite. I will definitely PM you if we wind up booking this. Thanks again for al this help
I would stay in Beaune, not Dijon. Beaune is in the center of the wine region and has a lot of wonderful restaurants. It is great to walk around Beaune.
I speak very little French. My wife speaks a bit. We always go to wineries where they speak English. It has never been a problem. I recommend trying to visit Rossignol-Trapet and Chandon des Briailles. Both have people that speak English. You will need a car to get there.
Three visits a day would be about right. It’s usual to fit a couple in in the morning, take a leisurely lunch as most places close for lunch between midday and two. Do something relevant to wine - visit Hospices de Beaune or CLos de Vougeot while your lunch settles then do a last visit about half past three.
Take the TGV train direct to Dijon (1h40mn). Rent a car in Dijon and drive south to Beaune. Beaune is perfect for a base to explore the area. Return the car at Dijon train station and take a direct TGV to CDG airport.
As for tastings: Comte Senard (Aloxe Corton), Olivier Leflaive (Puligny Montrachet), Chandon Briailles (Savigny les Beaune), Jadot, Bouchard Pere, Drouhin, Henry Villamont, Nicolas Potel (Beaune), Parent in Pommard, Lejeune in Pommard as well (more traditional), Domaine Dublere (Savigny les Beaune), Alex Gambal (Beaune), Alexandrine Roy (Gevrey), Cecile Tremblay (Morey), etc… You shouldnt have any trouble finding interesting tastings.
I might still be in Beaune in November. Do not hesitate to PM if you have any questions.
I find that between driving distances and hanging out in cellars, 3 is a max for me (I’ve done more but I prefer 3). Between noon and 2pm everything will be either closed or very slow as everyone’s eating. Stay in Beaune, you can take the TGV straight there from Paris (even from CDG), rent a car once there and drive around. The nice thing about staying in Beaune is that there are so many good restaurants that you can eat/drink to your heart’s content (or pain) and not worry about driving afterwards.
I would strongly recommend learning a few very basic French phrases, as well as French terms for various food items. That way, you can at least be polite as well as navigate menus in restaurants. My French absolutely Sucks, but I do feel that the effort I make is usually well-appreciated. There’s not nearly as many English speakers in Burgundy as there are in Paris; in Paris, you can get by knowing absolutely zero French (although you’ll catch a lot of attitude for it).
I recommend two a day. You want to give time for a good lunch and time to wander around the vinyards and towns. Michel. Jeremy, etc., have been to Burgundy many, many times, but for the rest of us, there is a thrill in driving by Chambertin, Musigny, Clos Vougeot, Montrachet, etc. Give yourself some driving time, some getting lost time, some time to wander around really gorgeous villages, maybe even time to visit the Hotel Dieu and the Clos Vougeot. Certainly time to walk around Beaune.
Def agree Beaune makes perfect base once in Burgundy with great hotels and restaurants as well as good location. Reservations made ahead of time are a must for cellar visits. A couple folks mentioned Chandon de briailles - Claude the wine maker there is very kind and speaks excellent English.
Guys thanks so much for the advice so far, its really appreciated. The info has been super helpful (as have Howard’s trip notes on the main board). Right now we’re just trying to decide if we’re going to do this Paris and Burgundy trip, or if we’d rather head to Rome. Burgundy sounds like an ideal trip, but we’re a bit concerned that weather in November won’t be ideal for enjoying Burgundy, since we’d like to do some bicycling and just generally enjoy the outdoors in what I imagine is a beautiful area. Will keep you all posted, and thanks again.