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Market day in Beaune, France

Every Saturday and Wednesday the market comes to town.

Restaurant Review: Le Fleury, Beaune, France

Restaurant Le Fleury
15 Place Fleury, Beaune ✆ 03-80-22-35-50
Hours: 12:00 to 14:30 & 19:00 to 21:30, Open daily
Average Price: €40 per person All major credit cards accepted

With the outward appearance of a rather run of the mill brasserie, this is a place I had passed by on numerous occasions without much thought. Big mistake. When I finally sat down and tried it, it turned out to be one of my best meals in France.

While I looked over the menu, the waiter recommended a glass of nice rosé wine as an aperitif. I'm not normally a big rosé fan, but he gave it very high marks -- something quite exceptional were his words -- and since it was quite hot out, a chilled wine sounded nice. I gave him the go ahead and was not disappointed. It was a harbinger of things to come.

Gazpacho at Le Fleury, Beaune

The menu has enough Burgundian classics to satisfy the first-time visitor to Burgundy, along with some foreign elements like pastas and risotto. Having eaten my fair share of Boeuf Bourguignon, I opted to go "foreign" with a starter of gazpacho, followed by risotto with spring vegetables, and tiramisu for dessert. I also ordered a glass of chablis, to follow when I was done with the rosé.

My gazpacho arrived quickly. Not just a lazy bowl of red soup with some crusty bread, it was a work of art and included a few greens dressed in olive oil and balsamic, plus a crispy wafer of baked parmesan cheese. The gazpacho was perfect. Fresh tomato taste, nice texture and just enough garlic to give it some bite without being overwhelming.

Next up was the risotto. I had by now finished off the rosé, and the glass had been cleared away, but my chablis was no where in sight. The waiter who brought the risotto was not the one who had originally taken my order -- common in European restaurants, where they're not working for tips and nobody "owns" a table. The system works wonderfully if you have a well-trained staff and diligent management, but can quickly fall apart if someone gets lazy and expects "the other guy" to pick up the slack. Pretty soon they're all lazy, and there's no "other guy" left.

Risotto with spring vegetable, Le Fleury, Beaune

After setting down the risotto the waiter spun off to another table before I could say anything about the wine, but not ten seconds later the original waiter glanced at my table from half-way across the restaurant, crinkled his brow, and then dashed out of sight. He soon appeared at my table with the glass of chablis. I hadn't needed to say a word, and Le Fleury was quickly winning my heart.

The risotto was a revelation. Creamy, with just enough tooth. Each of the vegetables, though they all would require different cooking times, were fresh and tender. Nothing mushy or over done.

Tiramisu at Le Fleury, Beaune

Last of all the tiramisu. I fear ordering tiramisu in a restaurant I don't know, even in Italy, because so many restaurants put out a slab of semi-thawed, store bought mush on a plate, figuring most patrons are over stuffed and half drunk by this point and will never know the difference. Fortunately, this was not the case at Le Fleury. It wasn't exactly a classic tiramisu -- more of a tiramisu and berry parfait, but obviously from scratch. And it was delicious.

Everything was beautifully presented and brilliantly prepared, but the service was what really won me over. Top notch attention, without being intrusive.

The restaurant has a large indoor dining room, plus a small terrace when the weather is nice. A definite keeper.

Burgundy: Farmer's Markets, Grape Harvest and a Picnic

Discover France 2009 Group

During my recent trip through France we hit the Burgundy region during the vendange, the annual grape harvest. Wine country is beautiful anytime of the year, but doubly so in September. The vineyards are a visual feast, with straight rows of neatly tended vines, broad green leaves and tightly packed fruit bunches. As the season's first chill winds bring hints of Autumn, the vineyards buzz with excitement. Months of anxiously tending to the grapes is over. Tractors laden with their cargo rush from vineyard to winery as the workers descend on the rows like hungry locusts, stripping the precious fruit from the plants.

Market Display, Beaune

The Burgundy region stretches in a thin line from Dijon to Lyon, but the true heart of Burgundy is the Côte d’Or (golden banks), centered around the village of Beaune. Known as La France Profond, or Intense France, Burgundy exemplifies the characteristics that the French themselves hold dear -- small villages, beautiful countryside, good food, good wine, and a care-free way of life. Think of a little old man riding a bicycle down a tree-lined country lane, wearing a beret, a fresh baguette strapped to the back of his bike, and you’re visualizing Burgundy.

Farmer's Market, Beaune

As part of the Discover France tour, my group spent one day enjoying many of Burgundy's great pleasures. We started our day at the weekly farmer's market, one of the best in France. Thousands of shoppers, locals and tourists alike, stroll through the stands admiring the season's offering and jostling for position when they find something they like. I gave each member of my group a task -- bread, cheese, fruit, meat, wine, etc. -- and sent them out into the market.

Picnic with a View, La Rochepot

With picnic fixings duly assembled, we drove out into the countryside for a tailgate lunch with a view of La Rochepot castle, a remnant of the Hundred Years' War. The picnic spot was cooler and windier than ideal, but the food and the view made up for it. On our drive back to town, we ambled through the vineyards, enjoying scenes of the workers busy gathering a treasure we'll enjoy in years to come.

Vendange, Meursault

Many of the items featured in the market make their way into the local restaurants. The Burgundy region is one of the major reasons that France is famous for food. Some of it’s most famous specialties are boeuf bourguignon (beef stew with red wine sauce), coq au vin (chicken in red wine), and jambon persillé (ham in a parsley and wine gelatin). With Dijon as the capital of Burgundy, mustard also figures large in many dishes.

Below I've listed some of my favorite restaurants in Beaune. For more recommendations in Beaune or for information about other areas of Europe, contact me about our trip planning services.

Relais de la Madeleine
44 Place Madeleine, Beaune
Open: 12:00 to 14:00 & 19:00 to 22:30
Average Price: €12 to €23 per person
Good meals, a wide range of choices, and very reasonable prices.

Caveau des Arches
10 Blvd Perpeuil, Beaune
Open: 12:00 to 14:00 & 19:00 to 22:30
Closed: Sundays and Mondays; two weeks in August
Average Price: €20 to €35 per person
It’s hard to imagine a more atmospheric setting for a dinner in the wine country than an underground wine cellar. Nice choice of fixed price menus, all well-prepared. Friendly, attentive service. Reservations recommended.

Le Jardin des Remparts
10 Rue de l’Hotel Dieu, Beaune
Open: 12:00 to 13:30 & 19:00 to 21:00
Closed: Sundays and Mondays
Average Price: €55 to €85 per person

Excellent food in a garden setting. Reservations essential.

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