Beaune succeeded Dijon as capital of the Duchy of Burgundy in its glory days. Today, Dijon is again the capital of Burgundy, a much bigger city, and an important site of industry as well as culture. But Beaune has much to recommend as it is a bustling, wealthy, and charming place of pilgrimage for art lovers, wine lovers, and gastronomes.
For the typical tourist, Beaune is a half-day town. The historic centre is charming and a pleasant place to walk around. The Hôtel-Dieu is a must-see but takes only about an hour or so. For the food and wine lover, there is not enough to time to spend in and around Beaune. Nearly every town along the Côte-d'Or has a fabulous restaurant and multiple places to taste wine. Even though the wine appellations in the Côte-d'Or are not far apart, the wines produced in relatively close appellations vary dramatically.
Beaune makes a good base for exploring other small wine towns in the Côte-d'Or. It is centrally located about halfway along the wine route, and other famous nearby wine towns like Montrachet, Pommard, and Nuits-Saint-Georges are all a short drive from Beaune.
Beaune has a direct link from Paris-Bercy by Regional Express train (3.5 hours). However, it is faster to take the TGV from Paris-Lyon to Dijon and connect to a local train (2.5 hours). There are occasionally services from Paris-Lyon directly to Beaune, without the need to transfer.
Beaune is a good city for walking. The old centre of town is compact and is surrounded by a ring street that follows the old city walls. Park the old center of town and walk in. There are a number of parking lots on the ring roads.
A car is required to explore the surrounding wine towns in the Côte-d'Or.
Visit some of the local wineries, and indulge in a tasting.
There is an outdoor market every Saturday morning. A wide variety of goods, including food, is available at this market. Note that the city is very crowded on market days. There is a Leclerc hypermarket on the outskirts of town, close to the exit of the A6.
There are many good restaurants in Beaune. Classic Burgundian dishes include beef bourguignon, coq au vin, oeufs meurette, escargot, and Époisses cheese.
The local wines: the reds are all pinot noir and the whites are almost all chardonnay (the exception is Aligote, which is usually mixed with crème de cassis to make a kir).
There are many hotels outside the centre of Beaune which may be fine. However if you are just staying one night, perhaps travelling from Paris or Calais to the south, or back, the Brit Hotel has secure parking and centrally located so you can easily walk to shops, bars and restaurants. It was rather run down a few years ago, but the same family owners have been upgrading over the last year or two and it is now a good value mid-price hotel.