Posted by: ankneredelstein | November 16, 2008

Trois Glorieuses – Street Festival In Beaune

The annual Hospices de Beaune wine auction is a very big deal in Bourgogne. Essentially, it is an annual charity auction (with associated high-profile chateau dinners) to raise funds and awareness for the work of the Hospices by selling off casks of wines to the highest bidders.  The prestige has become strong enough that incredibly high prices are bid for the wines by persons and organizations seeking recognition and status as major contributors to the noble causes of the Hospices. BurgundyEye.com has a nice article about it:  Arblaster and Clark have more info too. See the Decanter.com for another story about the event. A little detail about one of the dinners can be read at Slate.com. A particularly funny account can be read at the New York Times travel site. In 2007, 607 pièces (barrels) were auctioned, 469 red and 138 white. The total sold was €4,652,672 and prices were up 27% over 2006. The Hospices also own a 61 hectare domaine of grand cru and premier cru wines which has been built up over half a millennium through gifts and legacies. Donations of some of Burgundy’s greatest vineyards have resulted in the formation of an exceptional wine estate, covering 140 acres, the majority First Growths and Great Growths. The charity wine auction dates back to 1859. 189 barrels were sold on that occasion. Since 1924 the sale has invariably taken place on the third Sunday in November.

This event goes hand-in-hand with a famous town-wide street celebration where thousands of people congregate to eat, taste wines, be entertained, visit crafts vendors and celebrate wine and Bourgogne. You can even choose a 5k or 10k footrace event to participate in.  A spectacular and very old tradition.  We were lucky enough to live only a few minutes away from Beaune and visited on a Saturday afternoon into the early evening.

This is the essence of the street fesitval during the Trois Glorieuses celebration in Beaune. Life is good, despite the daily nuisances!

This is the essence of the street fesitval during the Trois Glorieuses celebration in Beaune. Life is good, despite the daily nuisances!

The street festival has marching bands everywhere and great things to eat.

The street festival has marching bands everywhere and great things to eat.

Auction Hall

Auction Hall

Casual tasters in a tasting hall.

Casual tasters in a tasting hall.

One of our favorite cafes in Beaune (excellent pizzas!)

One of our favorite cafes in Beaune (excellent pizzas!)

Fun crowds in the streets of Beaune

Fun crowds in the streets of Beaune

Yes, the Beaune wine retailers are excellent and expensive!

Yes, the Beaune wine retailers are excellent and expensive!

Piper's unicorn flys high over the crowd while the band plays on...

Piper's unicorn flies high over the crowd while the band plays on...

Sample of the music video: http://www.vimeo.com/2260731

If you taste too many wines in too short a time, things begin to look like this....

If you taste too many wines in too short a time, things begin to look like this....

Ompa band entertains the visitors of Beaune

Ompa band entertains the visitors of Beaune

The kids' carousel is extremely popular and colorful in Beaune.

The kids' carousel is colorful and popular in Beaune.

Beaune lights up the Place Carnot

Beaune lights up the Place Carnot

Carousel in action!

Carousel in action!

More lights of Beaune village

More lights of Beaune village

The vendor eateries around the square are busy and always entertaining.

The vendor eateries around the square are busy and always entertaining.

Yes, it is as fun as it looks!

Yes, it is as fun as it looks!

As the night goes on, things get more interesting.

As the night goes on, things get more interesting.

Sampling hall menus and bottles

Sampling hall menus and bottles

Yes, the tasting menus include some great wines (we tried most of them!)

Yes, the tasting menus include some great wines (we tried most of them!) The Gougeres are the traditional cheese-filled pastry puffs of Burgundy - quite tasty. 2 Euros per little bag.

Degustation Menu 1

Degustation Menu 1

Degustation Menu 2

Degustation Menu 2

At the tasting hall, you can buy whole bottles, not just little sample glasses.  Many, many people took advantage of the bottle tastings with their friends and family!

At the tasting hall, you can buy whole bottles, not just little sample glasses. Many, many people took advantage of the bottle tastings with their friends and family!

Oysters, escargot and wine. How could you pass by this hall?

Oysters, escargot, fois gras and wine. How could you pass by this hall?

Brand new French oak barrels from Beaune were used for tasting tables. Very nice. Excellent barrels.

Brand new French oak barrels from Beaune were used for tasting tables. Very nice. Excellent barrels.

Piper passes the time drawing while Mom gets oysters...

Piper passes the time drawing while Mom gets oysters...

Snack time in Beaune

Snack time in Beaune - Oysters and hot, roasted chestnuts with a few Grand Cru wines.

The tasting hall was always busy with happy people coming and going.

The tasting hall was always busy with happy people coming and going.

Unicorns ARE allowed while tasting wines.

Unicorns ARE allowed while tasting wines.

Excellent eating to be had around every corner. Here is the hot chestnut vendor.

Excellent eating to be had around every corner. Here is the hot chestnut vendor.

Of course, you need cheese to go with your wine...

Of course, you need cheese and cured ham to go with your wine...

Meanwhile...back in the village square, people are still happy!

Meanwhile...back in the village square, people are still happy!

Frog legs and white Burgundy wines...what could be more natural?

Frog legs and white Burgundy wines...what could be more natural?

The best way to see the action is on someones shoulders.

The best way to see the action is on someone's shoulders.

The bands play on....

The bands play on....

Some of the nicest balloon vendors you could hope to meet keep the kids happy.

Some of the nicest balloon vendors you could hope to meet keep the kids happy.

Hot, mulled red and white wine is everywhere...and remarkably good!

Hot, mulled red and white wine is everywhere...and remarkably good!

First of all, be prepared to spend money to purchase samples of great wines, buy meals, snacks, crafts and all the other things available in the medieval city of Beaune.  There is too much to miss, and the sea of happy people is a great event in itself.  Traditional cheese, wines, escargot, frogs’ legs, foi gras, hot chestnuts, hot, mulled wine (red and white!), marching bands in costumes and endless shops and vendors make the scene colorful and fun, not to mention delicious.  While the highly-polished intelligentsia of wine are busy with the wine auction preparations, the civilians can wander the streets of Beaune, drop in at the tasting halls, visit the vendors, restaurants and cafes and fill a day and evening with revelry and appreciation for Burgundy.

If you can make it to Beaune for the third weekend in November, definitely drop in and see the festival. If you really must join the upper-crust of wine society, you can try to get tickets to the reserved chateau dinners and the auction itself, but we had a perfectly wonderful time mingling among the crowds of the festival itself. One of the true cultural treats of Europe.

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