I previously visited the new outpost of the trilogy of Cités des Climats et Vins in Chablis – where I praised the human scale and architecture of the operation. I was unsure if I would be so positive towards this large erection on Beaune’s outskirts, but my first impressions did, indeed, tend towards the positive…
I visited for the opening ceremony on Friday 16th June – there were many people – aptly, many vigneron(ne)s. In fact, so many people that I chose not to follow the crowds through the exhibition halls – something for me to take in on another day.
Many were the worthy speeches outside the building, even the key of Beaune was presented to Benoît de Charette, president of the Cité des Climats project – this key described as ‘the key to paradise, not the key to the mayor‘s office,‘ said Alain Suguenot – the mayor! The speeches started with a large throng of listeners – but as the minutes passed the crowd thinned – not due to any perceived dryness of the discussion but rather the dryness and heat of the direct sun – places in the shadows quickly becoming a premium.
The modernity of the building itself, in my opinion, jars with the long history of the region but, as you will see, has some positive aspects: Not least its situation in the Parc de Chartreuse as it is now called – once a lost corner of land between Beaune and the Autoroute – and you can always visit one without the other.
Parts of the park looked a little sad on this hot sunny day – many of the plantings had turned brown due to lack of rain – but the views from the building can hardly be bettered. Particularly from high up. From the windows of the 4th floor, you have a broad vista, starting from the south with village of Volnay perched on the hillside, to the hills of Pommard to (directly ahead) the unfolding three hills of Beaune and then Pernand and Corton to the north – even the hills of the Hautes Côtes in the distance. A view worth drinking in – maybe with a lightly chilled Beaune blanc! In particular, it was interesting to walk down the ‘cork-screw’ (or is it the worm of an ancient wine press?) which wraps the exterior of the building – for it is a real walkway.
Liking the architecture – or not – is a personal decision, but for Beaune itself, this is clearly new a monument. I’ll let you know, in due course, my thoughts on the exhibition spaces…
For all the three locations – Chablis, Beaune and Mâcon – the latter where I’m yet to visit – the plan is for these locations to host about 180,000 visitors per year. There’s nothing wrong with having ambition!