Welcome to Taste France’s Top French Regions to Visit in 2023, a series highlighting the country’s best vacation destinations enjoyed through the lens of food and beverage. Throughout the year, the team at Taste France will take you on a number of gustatory journeys through the country’s most breathtaking destinations, from long-standing favorites to off-the-beaten-path areas and beyond.
Francophile food and wine lovers are no strangers to the gastronomic delights of Burgundy. Beloved for its world-renowned wines and rustic fare, this easterly French region is packed with things to do and see—as well as delicious things to eat and drink—and there’s no better time to visit than the fall. This season, we’re honing in on Burgundy’s Côte d’Or region and sharing all of our favorite places, as well as letting you in on some tips on how to incorporate its specialties and flavors into your home.
A Bit About the Côte d’Or
The Côte d’Or, which translates to ‘golden slope,’ is a massive limestone escarpment that stretches from Dijon to the Maranges in the Hautes-Côtes. The Côte averages around 65 kilometers long and is just one to two kilometers wide. The overarching Côte d’Or is broken down into two subregions: the northerly Côte de Nuits and southerly Côte de Beaune.
Viticulture has taken place in the Côte d’Or for centuries, and today, the region’s reputation for high-quality wine remains one of the best—if not the best—in the world. Many of the Côte d’Or’s wine appellations are designated as premier and grand cru growing sites, though a large amount of regional Bourgogne-classified wines also hail from the region.
The Côte d’Or is bordered by a number of other wine-heavy regions, including the Jura, Aube (Champagne), and Saône-et-Loire. Overall, the area experiences a continental climate characterized by hot summers and chilly winters. The majority of the soils in the Côte d’Or are limestone based, though ample amounts of clay are also present.
From Paris, accessing the Côte d’Or is as easy as taking a high-speed TGV train to Dijon, which takes just about an hour and forty minutes. From there, a local train to Beaune takes just about 20 minutes, or a non-high speed regional train from Paris to Beaune will take about three-and-a-half hours. On the contrary, training up from Lyon is also an option, should you prefer to kick your visit off in the real City of Lights (more on that another time).
Food & Beverage Specialities
Basically every French region has its signature food and wine options, and Burgundy is no exception. In terms of food, regional specialties include escargots, homemade terrines, fluffy gougères, and of course, the eponymous boeuf bourguignon. The region is also known for its variety of soft, creamy cheeses, including Epoisses, Délice de Bourgogne, Brillat Savarin, and more. From a wine perspective, the region’s two main varieties are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the small amounts of Aligoté and Gamay are also cultivated.
Where to Stay
The Côte d’Or offers a plethora of places to stay, though choosing Beaune as a home base offers easy access to many of the region’s top wineries, markets, and restaurants. For higher-end options, L’Hôtel de Beaune and Hostellerie Cèdre & Spa are great options. For those looking for a cozy B&B atmosphere (as well as the city’s best coffee), look no further than l’Imprimerie, located just a few minutes away from the Beaune train station.
Unmissable Côte d’Or Activities
Beyond savoring endless amounts or regional food and beverage, there are countless other activities to partake in while visiting the Côte d’Or. Here are a few of our favorites:
-Pay a visit to the Musée de l’Hôtel-Dieu at the Hospices de Beaune.
-Check out the famous Abbaye de Fontenay, home of the Cistercian monks.
-Take in the beauty of the vineyards via a bike tour.
-Shop seasonal produce and local goods at the Beaune Saturday market.
-Picnic in the Parc de la Bouzaize.
-Gaze upon sculptures at the Musée Rude in Dijon.
-Take in the beauty of the Route des Grands Crus (a must for wine lovers!).
Why Now? (Fall)
Visiting the Côte d’Or always promises an unforgettable time, though visiting in the fall adds something extra special. With temperatures cooling down, harvest in full swing, and the colors beginning to change in the vineyards, the innate beauty of the region truly comes to life during late September through early November. Contrary to the hot and crowded times of summer—as well as the bone-chilling days of winter—visiting the Côte in autumn is just right.
How to Bring a Taste of the Côte d’Or to Your Home
Dreaming of long, wine-soaked meals in the Côte d’Or but not able to swing it this fall? Worry, not, there are plenty of ways to bring the region’s harvest-inspired ambiance to your home—and it certainly won’t cost you the price of an international plane ticket.
Grab some friends and gather ‘round for a Burgundian harvest meal. Typically, most Burgundian wineries host some form of long feast (and let’s be real, late-night party) for friends, family, and seasonal employees who helped make the harvest season possible. Beyond copious amounts of wine, the meal generally consists of shareable, hearty dishes perfect for keeping pickers’ stomachs full during the long work days—though tonight, it’s all about the party.
Deemed a culinary institution of Burgundy, whipping up a classic boeuf bourguignon isn’t actually as hard as you may think. Simply follow our recipe here, prepare some roasted rainbow tomatoes or a classic ratatouille for your daily dose of veggies, then choose the dessert of your choice (either prepared chez toi or picked up at your local French bakery) and voilà! For regional wine pairings, a classic Bourgogne Rouge or Bourgogne Blanc—or let’s be real, one of each—promises to make perfect pairings for the dishes at hand. Lastly, dim the lights, load up your favorite French jazz playlist, and get one of your favorite fall candles going and you’ve got yourself an at-home, Côte d’Or-inspired harvest party.
From the team at Taste France, we wish you a cozy and colorful fall season ahead!