So, has this rainy season gotten you down? Me too. As much as I think the rain adds to the charm that is Paris, it is nice to get away for a short or long weekend to get a change of scenery. Here is my pick of the week.
So one of the lovely things about being France is the amazing quality of wine. Believe me, it really is hard to find bad wine here. It is also great to explore the different regions of France as there are so many different regions of wine to explore--from Bordeaux, to Burgundy, to Alsace, to Provence, the possibilities are endless!
One of my favorite places to visit is Beaune, in the center of Burgundy. Visiting this area is really great for both wine and enjoying French cuisine. You can get to Beaune from Paris by train (2 hour trip) or by car (3 hour trip). If you opt for the train, make sure to book a taxi to pick you up and take you to your hotel upon arrival. There should be taxis at the train station, but I would opt on the safer side and ask your hotel to book you one or at least have the number to call one yourself. Or if you are like me, use Uber :)
WHERE TO STAY
For places to stay, I would recommend Hostellerie de Levernois or Le Cep--both are luxury five star properties. If you are not driving, I would recommend Le Cep, since it is in the center of town and everything is walking distance. If you want to be removed from the hustle and bustle of things, Hostellerie de Levernois is the place for you. The grounds itself at Levernois are worth the stay--it feels like you are really in the French countryside with a US Southern Estate feel. When I stayed there, I felt like I was on a spiritual retreat with so many places to find my perfect zen. Added bonus that everything was taken care of for me. Even though Levernois does not have an in-house spa, the hotel staff can order you a masseuse to come to your room for in-room spa services if that is what you fancy.
Le Cep has a totally different feel with rustic wood architecture and cave like feel. Each suite has it's own personality and gleans it's inspiration from a type of wine. I liked this property because I felt like I was at a ski or hunting lodge when on the public areas (reception, lounge, restaurant), but then transported to Alice in Wonderland when I entered my room. Loved the juxtaposition of the property and the service was up to par with luxury resort standards.
Pro-Tip: The one thing you should not miss at either of these places is their breakfast/brunch spread. It seriously is the most magnificent thing you will ever see. At least, it was for me since I'm not use to French breakfasts and brunches. Who knew it was proper to have wine or champagne at 10 in the morning?
WHERE TO EAT
Think we've already established that you must have the breakfast or brunch spread at your hotel. I personally love wandering around and popping into the first place that catches my eye or piques my interest, but for those of you who like having a plan, here are the places you should definitely hit.
Loiseau des Vignes is a nice modern gastronomic option. This restaurant offered me one of my most delicious and memorable meals in Beaune. The food, service and ambiance was a perfect blend of perfection. There is an a la carte option and a tasting menu option--both are good, but I prefer the tasting menu. I also highly advise doing the wine pairing--splurge a little, you only live once and you are in France! I am a complete wine novice so always trust the sommelier--they rarely do me wrong and if they do, they can bring you another option.
Pro-Tip: Ask to eat in the garden area if it is open. It adds to the experience and is nice to get the natural sunlight if you are lucky enough to go on a clear day.
Super Pro-Tip: Do not skip out on the dessert. I am not a "sweets" person, but believe me, It. Is. Worth. It.
If you are more on the traditional side of French cuisine, Caveau des Arches is the place for you. Not only is the food incredible, but you get to eat in a cave! The ambiance of this restaurant adds to the experience and makes you've been transported through time as the restaurant was formerly a 15th century vault. And this restaurant is not only just about the ambiance--you dine on succulent traditional Burgundy cuisine.
There are 3 options for menus--I recommend the gourmet menu if this is your big meal of the day so you get the full experience of Burgundy cuisine. If not, the traditional menu will suffice unless you are a HUGE bourguignon fan--if that's the case, opt for that. You honestly can't go wrong here.
Pro-Tip: Would do this more for lunch vs dinner as it is on the heavier side. Would plan to do some walking and schedule some wine tastings for after this lunch.
WHERE TO TASTE (OR DRINK)
So, no trip to Beaune is complete without a wine tasting or two. As you all know, I am from New York, so my first wine tasting here was interesting.... When I say interesting, I mean they literally just taste the wine and spit it out. It may be the right way to do it, but 1-I think spitting in front of people is GROSS and 2-why waste such good wine. I've been to vineyards in the Hamptons, Sonoma and Napa and honestly have never seen a bucket used for people to spit their wine into. It was like a freaking sport to some people to see how loud or far they could spit their wine. Just letting you all know in case this is your first time tasting wine in France--consider it a friendly pre-pro tip PSA
So, if you want to go to somewhere more commercial, I suggest you go to Louis Jadot. I say commercial because their wines are vastly available in the US. The surprising thing for me being here was that the range of the prices. Most of the wine in the US market are their lower pricepoints, so if you are a fan of Jadot, I suggest you buy some of the less available (and much better) ones here. The ones they send to the US do not compare to the quality of the other vintages available. The price for the tour and tasting is 20€, which is pretty reasonable since the space is amazing (talking to you instagrammers) and you taste roughly about 12 or so wines.
If you want to try somewhere more exclusive, I recommend making an appointment at Domaine Roulot. You will get to taste wines that are very hard to come by. Saying that, you will not be able to purchase any of the wines you taste here. He only sells to top restaurants. If you are lucky and you come recommended by someone important, he will gift you a bottle upon departure. Regardless, it is definitely worth the trip if you can get an appointment as it is more of an intimate setting and you get some very good information, history and one on one time with the owner.
Pro-Tip: If there is wine you like while in Beaune, BUY IT! Most places ship to the US and the cost will be much less than buying in the US even with taxes. If you are not buying a lot, you are allowed 2 bottles in your checked suitcase....saying that I know people who have tried to take more so it is all about your risk threshold.
So, there is my very edited list for Beaune. All above places mentioned are American friendly and definitely worth the trip. Happy weekending!