France is by far one of my all time favorite places to be, with Paris probably being my favorite city in the entire world. There’s a certain elegance about the culture, people, fashion, art, cuisine, and language that I find myself having a strong connection with. Architecture, both new and old is beautiful and the history so deep and rich. Not to mention the cheeses, pastries, and chocolate delights that are truly one of a kind.

One of things I love the most about France is it’s very organized high-speed train system called the TGV, which stands for Trains à Grande Vitesse. So you know where I’m headed with this. Getting to and from the many wine regions throughout the country is not only fast, but also convenient and makes for a smooth and lovely ride through the countryside. Although, I have to say that once you’ve arrived to the destination, renting a car is probably the best way to experience wine country and its small villages.

Burgundy (Bourgogne in French) is about a 2 hour train ride from Paris. One cool thing about this region is that many of the cellars are within walking distance from the train station in Beaune, which is the stop you’ll want for Burgundy. The other thing that’s nice about Burgundy is of course it’s wines. This region, unlike other regions in France, is quite simple to understand because there’s basically 2 main grapes- Pinot Noir for reds and Chardonnay for whites. There’s also other grapes such as Aligoté and Gamay. But generally speaking Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the major players in the area. Believe me, from here on out, French wines can be pretty complicated!

One thing I should mention, because this was new to me when I first stepped into a wine shop in France, is that here, the labels on wine bottles note the place it is from and not the grape. And along those same lines, wine merchants will organize their shops by region as opposed to for example, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet, etc. Very different from the U.S. But don’t worry because since we’ve already established that Burgundy generally produces 2 wines- Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, we’re already off to a good start!

       

Once in the city centre of Beaune, it’s an easy walk to where all the wine cellars are located. One of my favorite stops was at a tiny wine shop called La P’tite Cave.
The entire cellar was probably about the size of my garage. But the woman who owns it was so warm and welcoming that I enjoyed meeting her right away. She knows wine like the back of her hand and offers to do the presentation in either French or English. I opted for French just so I can practice what I’ve learned at Alliance Française French classes 🙂

The other wine house I really liked was Domain Chanson Père et Fils. Dating back to 1750 and formerly a convent (the catholic church back in the day apparently had a HUGE influence on production of Burgundy wine), here you get the true experience of being in a wine cave. You walk through the dark underground cellars partially lit by candlelight, in temperatures cooled by the natural stone in which the cellars are built in.

 

 

 

      

The wines I brought back were very good but yet inexpensive. However, Burgundies, especially the Grand Cru (top of the line) wines can run hundreds of dollars for a single bottle. Fortunately, one doesn’t have to spend that kind of dough to enjoy good Burgundy wine, as there are hundreds of choices out there available at reasonable price points. Just ask your local wine merchant for advice and they’ll be able to point you in the right direction.

À santé!