The TGV is the most convenient way to arrive from Paris. There are frequent, direct trains to Dijon and Le Creusot (about ten minutes east of Chalon-sur-Saône and 30 minutes south of Chassagne-Montrachet). There is also an occasional direct train to Beaune. If you’re going to Beaune and there’s no direct train, just transfer at Dijon for a regional train. The wait is usually no longer than 20 minutes. Beware: you will have to haul your luggage up and down stairs at both stations.
Dijon and Le Creusot host rental car companies at the train stations. Most of Beaune’s car rental options are not on-site but are only a quick taxi ride away. Driving from Paris is, of course, an option, but it’s a tedious, three-hour drive to Beaune on the A6.
If you’re touring France’s wine regions and are coming from Bordeaux, hop on an Eastern Airways flight to Dijon. It’s inexpensive and much faster than taking the train all the way north to Paris then south to Burgundy. No TGV routes cut across the plateau in the center of the country.
Burgundy is cozy, but it’s not small. Though the Côte d’Or is only 32 miles long, Chablis is 1.5 hours north of the northern tip of the “Gold Coast.” Mâcon, at the southern edge of Burgundy, is an hour from Santenay at the southern point of the Côte d’Or. (For this column, I am not including Beaujolais.) So, the location of your pillow is very important.
For most, Beaune is ideal. It is centrally located and full of stores, wine bars and restaurants. “Downtown” is small and pleasant to stroll. Charm oozes from mortar at the chambre d’hôte Jardins de Loïs, situated on the southern side of the loop that circles Beaune. Just across the way is the larger and more luxurious Hôtel le Cep, which cutely classifies its rooms from Bourgogne to Grand Cru to Nectar!
Dijon is the largest city and home to almost 50 percent of the Côte d’Or’s residents. However, it is a major city, so it doesn’t feel like wine country. I suggest visiting for a day and lodging closer to the vineyards.
Burgundy, France image via Shutterstock