But France is great for hiking.
Hiking in France is the perfect way to explore the countryside its vineyards. This hike in France explores some of the highest quality vineyards in the world. It is the perfect day hike for food and wine lovers.
Burgundy is one of the best wine regions for hiking. There are trails through the vineyards between many of its tiny wine producing towns. This hike in Burgundy is between Beaune and Pommard.
How does this sound for a day of your vacation?
Wake up to fresh baked croissants and espresso. Hike a few miles through hills and vineyards. Eat a delicious lunch with a glass of the best Pinot Noir in the world. Work off that lunch by hiking a few miles back to your staying location for an afternoon of wine tasting.
Sound good? Then keep reading to learn more about this hike from Beaune, France to Pommard, France in the Burgundy wine region.
First off, the wine
Burgundy is the land of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. This is where the most prestigious (and arguably, the highest quality) wines made from these grapes are produced. The wines here are complex, interesting, and very different from the same types of wine made in the U.S.
I typically do not drink these prestigious wines in everyday life because of their high price. The tastings throughout Beaune were a great way to learn about the wines and try some high-end ones without the price tag of a bottle.
The vineyards around Beaune, France offers a physical lesson in terroir and the effect it has on the final wine product.
Take a look at the picture above and notice the hill in the distance. This hill is known as the “Golden Hill”. Where the grapes are grown in relation to this hill generally indicates their quality.
A general rule is that the higher on hill the grapes are grown, the higher quality the wine is that they produce. The lower quality grapes (which still produce great wine!) are grown on the flat ground.
Burgundy Wine Classifications
The vineyards are broken up into small plots, or climats, that each have a unique microclimate, soil, and other characteristics. Which plot the wine is produced from indicates its quality.
The classifications below are used to designate the wines in this region. As you go from Regional to Grand Cru, prestige, cost, and quality increases while supply decreases.
Regional – Wines from the Bourgogne region. The label will include “Bourgogne” such as Bourgogne Rouge, Bourgogne Pinot Noir, etc.. These grapes are generally grown on the flat ground at the bottom of the hill – the orange areas on the below map.
Village – Wines from one of the 44 villages in the region. The label will have the name of the village. The grapes that go in to this wine are generally at the base of the hill – the yellow areas on the below map.
Premier Cru – Wine made with grapes grown in 640 designated premier cru plots of vines within a village designation. The label will have the name of the village and the specific name of the vineyard. These plots are indicated by the purple areas on the below map.
Grand Cru – Wine made with grapes grown in the 33 designated grand cru plots of vines within a village designation. These are the highest quality grapes in the region. Similar to the premier crus above, the label will have the name of the village and the name of the specific vineyard. These plots are indicated by the red areas on the below map.
Take a look at the map of the Cote de Beaune region below. Note how the grape quality (Regional to Grand Cru) generally goes from right (this represents the flat ground) to left (this represents the hill). Imagine the start of the “Golden Hill” slope begins where the orange turns to yellow.
Now, the hike
Starting Point: Beaune, France
Type: Out and Back
Approximate Length: 4 miles to Pommard (8 miles total), Optional 9.8 miles to Mersault (19.6 total)
Additional route details can be found here.
Understanding the wine designations above and relating it to the walk through the vineyards makes for an interesting hike. The differences in terroir are clear as you walk from flat ground, up the slopes to the top of the hill, and back down.
The hike up the slopes is fairly moderate with a bit of steepness at the top of the hill. The wooded area at the top was a surprise that offered a different terrain.
Venturing back down the hill, we approached the small town of Pommard at about the 4 mile mark. The village primarily produces red wine made from Pinot Noir grapes and has several premier crus located within the Pommard village designation.
Following the walktoeat playbook of… walking to eat, we had a great lunch and wine break at La Compagnie Fanny wine bar in Pommard. We were more than welcomed (in very informal athletic gear) by the staff that fed us with the lunch special.
Potato quiche, a glass of Savigny-les-Beaune and a much-needed salad with a local mustard vinaigrette provided fuel for the walk back.
Once in Pommard, there exists the option to keep heading southwest for ~5.5 miles until you reach Mersault, another small wine village. Where Pommard is a red wine producing village, Mersault is almost entirely white wine producing from Chardonnay grapes.
We chose to head back to Beaune and spend the afternoon tasting more of the local wines and foods from the region.
More About Beaune
Beaune is considered the wine capital of the Burgundy region. Meaning, some of the best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wine in the world is produced there. Where there is great wine, there is also great food.
With just over 20,000 people, Beaune offers plenty of wine tastings and indulging in the regional cuisine. Cycling and hiking through the surrounding hills are my favorite way to tour vineyards and neighboring wine towns.
What to Eat
The food in and around Beaune is delicious. The cuisine has been developed over time in conjunction with the wines of Burgundy.
Here are a few traditional dishes to try:
Beouf Bourguignon – Savory beef stew slowly braised with onions and mushrooms in Burgundian red wine.
Coq Au Vin – Chicken slowly braised in Burgundian until falling off the bone.
Escargots de Bourgogne – Escargots (snails) cooked in garlic, herbs, and butter.
Jambon Persille – Cooked ham and chopped parsley typically eaten cold or at room temperature.
Where to Stay In Beaune
There are many lodging options in the town of Beaune for most price points. Beaune is a well visited town because of its wine tourism industry. So, there are many hotels suited for visitors.
Here are a few options:
Budget: Beaune Hotel
Splurge: Chez Les Fatien
Ready to Go to France Yet?
The hike from Beaune to Pommard and back is a perfect half day activity in Burgundy, France. It is the best way to explore the surrounding countryside and vineyards that produce incredibly wine. If you ask me, food and drink tastes better when you know where it comes from.
France is one of my favorite countries to visit. The food and wine there are world-class. And the people are friendly.
Plus, there are tons of destinations that are perfect to visit throughout France. Check out this some of the best places to visit in France: