Day 1: Beaune to Savigny-lès-Beaune

Walking in France: Hôtel-Dieu, Beaune
Hôtel-Dieu, Beaune

Monday, 24 May 2004
Distance 9 km
Duration 2 hours 40 minutes
Ascent 236 m, descent 162 m
Map 3025 OT in the TOP 25 series (Beaune-Chagny)

It was half past two in the afternoon as we marched out of Beaune, following the red and white marks of the GR76. We passed the outer wall of the Hôtel-Dieu, but its famous shimmering interior was hidden from sight. Keith and I have seen it before and the others will go there after the walk.

Having left the drab streets of the periphery, the GR took us up a slope of vines and into a forest, where we stopped to remove our long trousers and jackets, as the day was sunny and still. I was even wearing long thermal undertrousers, which had to come off too.

In the forest there were tracks everywhere and we followed far too many of them, down, up and down again, losing the GR marks in the process.

At one point we were on the edge of the autoroute, directly opposite the village of Savigny, our destination, but could not get across the deep cutting.

It took a further long period of scrambling to find the underpass, but then we descended easily into the valley, where the town is strung out along the river.

Walking in France: Château, Savigny-lès-Beaune
Château, Savigny-lès-Beaune

Past the château and across the bridge, we found a couple of streets of shops and a straggle of houses to the west overlooking market gardens that stretched down to the river.

The camping ground was at the far end. We set up our little abode on a field of daisies close to the glassy stream. Our only companions were monumental Dutch motor homes.

The showers were toward the lukewarm end of the temperature range, but they served the purpose and we were soon clean and refreshed.

Walking in France: Camping in a field of daisies, Savigny-lès-Beaune
Camping in a field of daisies

Max and Sue had a room in a hotel above the allotments and we went back to meet them for dinner, for which we chose a little place called le Morgan.

As it had turned chilly, we ate in the snug interior, whose walls were covered with pictures of vintage cars, and all of us felt the urge to have Boeuf Bourguignonne. It seemed the right thing for our first night in Burgundy.

It was rich and delicious and came with little side bowls of vegetables. The wine was the local red known as Passetoutgrain, an unpretentious but agreeable drop.

It was a promising start to our little gastronomic walking tour.

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