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Art and Wine in Burgundy

September 7-12 2017

The beautiful town of Beaune is situated at the heart of Burgundy’s wine country, renowned for its remarkable historic monuments as well as being one of the great wine capitals of the world. The surrounding region is rich in cultural treasures, from stunning Romanesque abbeys and Renaissance châteaux to picturesque medieval towns, magnificent paintings and elegant palaces, recalling the splendour of times past when Dijon was the capital of the Duchy of Burgundy. The region reached its apogee under the patronage of the Dukes of Burgundy who created one of the most sumptuous courts in Europe, where patronage of art, music and architecture flourished. When Duke Philip the Bold inherited the County of Flanders in 1384 he began to import some of the greatest Flemish artists and craftsmen to the area, a tradition which would be continued by his successors. Many of their masterpieces can still be seen in situ, from Rogier van der Weyden’s celebrated polyptych of the Last Judgement in Beaune to Claus Sluter’s moving Well of Moses sculpture in the Chartreuse de Champmol.

We explore the region from one of Beaune’s most well-known hotels, a historic property located in the heart of the medieval town, just a few minutes' walk from the famous Hôtel Dieu or Hospices de Beaune, created as a magnificent hospital to provide free care for the poor after the Hundred Years' War. The spectacular courtyard of the Hôtel Dieu is famed for its beautifully preserved polychromed tiles, and its interior boasts one of the greatest masterpieces of Flemish painting - Rogier van der Weyden's Last Judgement, commissioned for the hospital chapel. We are delighted to confirm that there will be a special after-hours opening of this prestigious monument one evening, including a private drinks reception followed by dinner in the Chambre du Roy, named after King Louis XIV who visited in 1658.

Burgundy is famed not just for its wines but also its gastronomy, and our historical visits will be interspersed with a number of private wine-tastings and delicious meals where we sample local delicacies in Beaune’s many well-known restaurants.

Booking is now closed

 

Itinerary

Day 1
We travel in the early afternoon with British Airways from London Heathrow (BA 362 departing 14.15) and arrive at Lyons airport where we transfer by private coach to Beaune. Our 4-star hotel is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection and situated in a historic property in the heart of the medieval town. It has a spa and fitness centre, gastronomic Michelin star restaurant and a number of elegant salons and historical courtyards dating back to the 16th century, which are perfect for rest and relaxation.

Dinner with wine is included this evening in the hotel's Michelin star restaurant Loiseau des Vignes.

Day 2
We spend the day discovering Beaune, one of the most picturesque walled towns of the Côte d'Or region which was once an important residence of the Dukes of Burgundy. We start with an introductory walking tour in which we will see some of the famous sights of the town including the Hôtel Dieu or Hospices de Beaune, founded in 1443 as a hospital for the poor by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Burgundy Nicolas Rolin and his wife Guigone de Salins.  Inspired by similar foundations in Valenciennes, Tonnerre and Ghent, Rolin acquired the land and funded both the building and its decoration himself, employing the best Flemish and Burgundian artists and craftsmen. Its vast altarpiece by van der Weyden was originally positioned within view of the patients' beds to provide comfort and hope, although its dramatic scenes of hell were also a stern reminder of the importance of prayer, virtue and faith. We also visit the Romanesque Church of Notre Dame, famous for its series of late 15th C Flemish tapestries recounting the Life of the Virgin.  Lunch is arranged for those who would like to join the group.

This afternoon we have arranged a private cellar tour and wine-tasting in the nearby Château de Meursault, where we sample a number of Côte de Beaune wines and trace the 1000-year history of this prestigious domain.

This evening there will be a private after-hours opening and dinner (included) in the Hôtel Dieu in Beaune.

Day 3
Today we visit some of the great abbey churches of the Romanesque period in France, exploring their powerful structures and rich decorative sculptural cycles whose influence would spread far and wide. Siân will give a lecture on the history of French Romanesque architecture en route. We drive first of all to the abbey of Fontenay, founded in 1118 by St Bernard de Clairvaux for the Cistercian order and one of the most complete abbey complexes left in France today.  

We then continue to Avallon for lunch, where there will be time to study the impressive 12th century portal of the church of St Lazaire, followed by an afternoon spent in the exquisite fortified hill-top town of Vézelay, famed for its Benedictine abbey church, now the Basilica of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine. Vézelay was one of the most important towns in medieval France since the monks claimed to possess the relics of Mary Magdalene, believed to have been brought from the Holy Land by their founding saint. As a result many pilgrims flocked to the basilica to pay homage, and the town would soon become the starting point of one of the four major pilgrim routes through the country towards Santiago de Compostela.

Dinner is arranged this evening in Beaune for those who would like to join the group

Day 4
This morning we visit the magnificent Renaissance château of Ancy-le Franc, built by the renowned Italian architect Sebastiano Serlio, famed for his work on the Palace of Fontainebleau and his highly influential treatises on architecture ("I sette libri dell'architettura"). The interior holds a series of remarkable mural paintings attributed to some of the most notable Italian artists of the mid 16th century, including Primaticcio and Niccolò dell'Abate. We will also have a chance to see the recently restored Chambre de Diane which was decorated for Diane de Poitiers, sister-in-law of the château's owner and more famously, mistress of King Henri II of France.

We then make our way to Chablis for lunch (included) followed by a private visit and wine-tasting at the well-known Domaine Laroche, the birthplace of Chablis wine. We visit the beautiful L'Obédiencerie, the former monastery of the monks of Saint Martin who founded Chablis at the end of the 9th century, and today the headquarters of the winery where the most prestigious wines of Domaine Laroche are produced. We will learn about the history of Chablis and its winemaking techniques. followed by a tasting of a range of appellations: Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru et Chablis Grand Cru.

Our last visit is to the peaceful abbey of Pontigny, one of the important Cistercian churches in Burgundy and founded in the early 12th century. The monks of Pontigny provided refuge to a number of English churchmen during the Middle Ages including two Archbishops of Canterbury, Stephen Langton (exiled by King John II) and Thomas à Becket, assassinated by Henry II on his return to England in 1170.

Day 5
Today we drive to nearby Dijon, once the capital of the Duchy of Burgundy. Here our visits include the renowned Musée des Beaux-Arts, located inside a wing of the ancient Palais des Ducs, and famed for its many collections encompassing treasures of Egyptian antiquity and medieval art to Renaissance sculpture and Impressionist painting. We then visit Claus Sluter’s highly moving Well of Moses sculpture in the Chartreuse de Champmol, a Carthusian monastery established in the late 14th century by Philip the Bold.

After an independent lunch we return to Beaune where there will be free time for independent exploration.

After an aperitif (included) in the hotel's courtyards, dinner has been arranged for those who would like to join the group.

Day 6
We leave our hotel by private coach in the morning and drive to Cluny, once home of the grandest and most magnificent Benedictine monastery in medieval Europe. Over time Cluny became a hugely affluent and powerful institution, the centre of a monastic organisation that included many hundred Cluniac monasteries across Western Europe. When completed in the early 12th century it was said to be the largest church in all Christendom. Tragically the abbey was abandoned and sacked during the French Revolution, but we will trace its history through studying what remains of its former buildings and sculptures. After lunch we stop briefly to visit the tiny, haunting chapel at Berzé-la-Ville, built as the abbot of Cluny’s private retreat and famed for its 12th century wall paintings

We then depart for Lyons airport where our British Airways flight returns to London Heathrow, arriving at 18.25 (BA 363)

Further Tour Information

Accommodation
5 nights’ accommodation in a centrally-located 4-star hotel in the medieval town of Beaune.

Upgraded 1er Cru Deluxe Rooms have been reserved in a historic hotel which is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World and Châteaux & Hôtels Collection, situated just steps away from the Hospices de Beaune. Rooms are decorated with antiques in the traditional French style and are named after famous Burgundy Grand Cru wines.

A few suites are available at a cost of an extra £200 per room per night - please contact us for availability and more details.

Itinerary and Meals
I will lead guided tours on all days, giving you some free time too (please feel free to join the group or be independent). A detailed, confirmed itinerary will be provided nearer the time and all reservations made where necessary. Please note that flight times may be subject to alteration. All will be done to ensure that the details of the trip remain as indicated, but museums and churches may close without warning, and if this happens I will always make every effort to organise alternative arrangements. I will always suggest good places for lunch and dinner, so we can either eat together as a group or you can be independent – it’s up to you.

How Strenuous?
Please note that there is a fair amount of walking involved in the trip, although at a gentle pace and not strenuous. There are some steep gradients in some places such as Vézelay.

Price
The price will be £2175 per person for those sharing a standard twin or double room, and a single room supplement of £375. (If you are travelling independently and would like to room share, please let us know).

The price includes scheduled flights and taxes with BA; 4-star hotel accommodation for 5 nights, city taxes and breakfast; transfers by private coach; fully guided tours; a number of specially arranged private visits; 1 lunch and 2 dinners with wine including a private drinks reception and dinner in the Hospices de Beaune; porterage; gratuities; tour notes; reservations and all entrance fees in the itinerary. It does not include meals other than those indicated; travel to and from Heathrow; insurance and personal spending.

Participation
If you would like to join the tour please complete the online booking form. If you would prefer to send a booking form by post please download a copy here.  

 Please note a £225 non-refundable deposit is required at the time of booking. I will send your tickets, full travel details and other practical information approximately 3-4 weeks before travel. Numbers on this trip are strictly limited, so do get in touch earlier rather than later if you would like to join the group, to avoid disappointment.

Please refer to our Terms and Conditions for booking this trip.

All the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate

We hope that you sensed by the end of our five days how much the group had appreciated such a stimulating visit to South-West France. We certainly loved it and are full of admiration for the way in which you combine your extensive knowledge of art and music with unobtrusively high quality administration – all with a charm and a lively sense of humour too. Plus you seem to know such delightful people around Toulouse with intriguing houses and very good cuisine – and you use really comfortable hotels, which we do appreciate”

Mr and Mrs Mike and Gillian Williams

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Highlights

  • Enjoy masterpieces of Romanesque and Gothic architecture
  • Explore artistic treasures such as van der Weyden's Last Judgement and Claus Sluter's Well of Moses
  • Private evening reception in the Hôtel-Dieu, Beaune
  • Stylish and well-appointed accommodation: superior room upgrades included
  • Excellent restaurants and private wine-tastings

Practicalities

  • Tour Price: £2,175.00
  • Single Supplement: £375.00
  • Room Upgrade: per room per night
  • Deposit: £225.00
  • Lecturer: Siân Walters

Booking

Booking is now closed.

If you have any questions regarding the tour or booking please send us an email or
call on +44 (0)1932 267322

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