There are so many beautiful Beaujolais villages to visit when you explore this region of France. Winalist is here to help you plan what you need to see on your French wine tasting adventure to have an unforgettable trip. Whether you’re visiting Beaujolais for a day trip, multiple days, or longer, there is much for you to explore and heaps of Beaujolais Nouveau for you to taste.
Winalist will help you discover exactly what will make your trip to France special. Let’s get started.
About Beaujolais Villages & More
Beaujolais is a very specific wine region located north of the city of Lyon, in the Rhône Valley wine region, and extends to the south of Saône et Loire. Its name comes from the town of Beaujeu, which was its capital. You can reach the area by train from the Lyon Saint Exupéry airport, counting about an hour and 20 minutes.
Quite unknown to tourists, rarely highlighted for tourism, the Beaujolais wine region is nevertheless very charming and has some nice surprises in store for you. Nature is lush, it is a perfect setting for hiking and forest walks. Beaujolais regroups a lot of small villages, populated of course by many winegrowers. In this article, we offer you our selection of the essentials to visit in Beaujolais.
Before you visit, here’s a bit of background on Beaujolais’s winemaking culture:
This world-famed region of France is essentially due to Beaujolais Nouveau, also called Beaujolais Primeur, which is a wine produced from the Gamay grape variety. A primeur wine is a wine that is consumed young, or in other words, very soon after the harvest of its grapes.
Every year, on the third Thursday of November when the days are shorter, Beaujolais Nouveau makes its appearance in French glasses. This custom appeared in 1951, when the Union viticole du Beaujolais requested the possibility of selling its wines “en primeur”, before the date of December 15th. However, “Beaujolais Nouveau” is not an appellation.
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Now let’s visit Beaujolais!
The most beautiful Beaujolais villages
The Haut Beaujolais in the north, humid and cool, is an essentially granite mountainous area, covered with fir forests. The Bas Beaujolais in the south, almost entirely limestone, consists rather of small hills. The ocher limestone of the winegrowers’ houses gives us superb play of colors.
Here is a selection of the most emblematic villages, which deserve to be visited on your Beaujolais Wine Route.
A former fortified village, Ternand is made up of beautiful residences from the end of the Middle Ages but also from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The walkway offers a remarkable panorama over the vineyards of the Azergues Valley.
Its church has preserved remains of the Carolingian period with a crypt decorated with frescoes representing the Nativity, Christ in Majesty and the four evangelists. In the medieval village, we stroll through the steep and flowery streets. From Ternand, two circuits (6 and 9 km) allow you to discover the landscapes and hills of Beaujolais.
20 km away from Lyon and 12 km from Villefranche-sur-Saône is the village of Charnay, perched 450 meters above sea level. The atmosphere is beautifully golden, particularly pleasant when the sun goes down. This is due to the constructions made of warm-colored limestone, also called “Pierre Dorée” which characterizes the buildings of Charnay.
Several sites and visits are accessible in this area to better discover the heritage of Beaujolais :
- The Roman and Gothic church of the village, classified as Historic Monuments.
- The Chateau de la Mansarde.
- Bayère Castle.
- and throughout your walk, you will find many wayside crosses and crosses.
Ranked among the most beautiful villages in France, Oingt is also located above the Azergues valley. They contain interesting vestiges of the Middle Ages such as the Porte de Vizy, the feudal mound of Chautard, or the dungeon from the top of which you can admire a magnificent panorama.
Back in the day, the village was used to monitor the ancient passageway between the Saône and the Loire, on the borders of the two enemy territories of Beaujolais and Lyonnais.
In 2017, the municipality of Oingt merged with that of Le-Bois-d’Oingt and that of Saint-Laurent D’Oingt.
Alongside the winegrowers, many craftsmen work in the town. You can therefore walk through several galleries of sculptors, painters or weavers and many others. In love with their region and their traditions, they are the ambassadors of an art of living and a typical Beaujolais heritage.
Bagnols is a village of traditional Beaujolais houses built around its castle. The building was restored and welcomes tourists in a luxury hotel inside. Although you can walk around and admire its facades, the castle cannot be visited publicly. But if you are looking for a little comfort for a night in Bagnols, this is the perfect place!
Tasting Beaujolais Nouveau
Combining pleasure and discovery is possible, and it is above all recommended! Winalist has selected the best activities combining discovery of the Beaujolais country and its terroir. Our partners are happy to welcome you all year round to provide you with unique wine tourism experiences. Go on a mop in the vineyards, and taste the latest vintages over a good meal.
Beaubourg Wine Tour
Departing from Mâcon, this circuit will take you on a discovery of the Beaujolais vineyard and its wines. The guided tour helps you to better situate yourself and understand this vineyard’s landscape and everything that makes it unique. From North to South, you will meet winegrowers who can show you their operations, and allow you to taste a dozen of different wines planned for the tastings.
Private visit to Château de Champ-Renard and Tasting
Located in Blacé, the Château de Champ-Renard welcomes you to experience a privileged moment. It is both a cultural and gustatory discovery. Indeed, you start with a guided tour of the castle to learn more about its construction, the great families who lived there and their history, as well as the anecdotes and legends about them.
Then you will have the opportunity to visit the winery to understand all the subtleties of the process of wine making from this area. To conclude this enriching visit, your hosts will invite you to a tasting of 4 cuvées from the Château.
For those with a sweet tooth, there is the “Tasting with cheese platter” option to learn more about the region’s traditional wine and food pairings.
The Beaujolais vineyard: a few reminders before your visits
The ubiquitous grape variety in the red wines of this vineyard is Gamay. It is a grape variety from Burgundy. In the Beaujolais region, there are 12 Appellations d’Origine Contrôlée:
- Beaujolais Villages;
- Coast of Brouilly;
- Windmill ;
Regarding white wines, they are much less produced, almost rare, and the Chardonnay grape variety will dominate. Beaujolais is a fertile land giving a rich palette of wines, mainly available in red wines, sometimes in whites and rosés.
Activity idea: Hiking in Beaujolais
Many hiking trails are listed and known by keen walkers in the region. But for tourists who wish to venture quickly on a simple route that can be done in one day, it is not always easy to find your way around.
However, it is an activity worth doing. Alternately in the wooded paths, the rocky hillsides and the vineyards, we can assure you that you won’t be bored with what the area’s landscape and settings can offer you during walks.
For children who are a little reluctant to walk, some walks include themes that make the experience more fun and rewarding.
Winalist recommends the Tour des Pierres Dorées: the route is 110 km long, and it is completed by 12 loops that can be done by 1/2 day or full day.
For a short hike, with one of the most beautiful panoramas in the region: go to the foot of Mont Brouilly. The 1.5 km ascent is relatively simple, short, and pleasant with stunning views upon arrival.
Which village to visit in Beaujolais?
– The Beaujolais of Golden Stones
– Ternand, the Medieval. From the southern gate of the territory, the Village of Ternand, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has kept traces of the Middle Ages.
– Bagnols, the Picturesque.
– Oingt, Most Beautiful Village in France. This perched medieval village offers a journey out of time.
– Charnay, Tuscany.
Where to go this weekend in Beaujolais?
– Explore the region of Beaujolais crus.
– Tasting Beaujolais wines.
– Stock up on local products at the covered market in Villefranche-Sur-Saône.
– Discover the golden stones in the village of Oingt.
– Try Segway in the vineyards.
What day does Beaujolais Nouveau come out?
Since 1985, Beaujolais Nouveau has been released every third Friday of November.
What you can eat in Beaujolais wine region ?
Known for its natural beauty and gastronomy, the Beaujolais wine region offers countless food choices. Cuisine of Beaujolais wine region uses locally raised or produced ingredients for delivering a hearty taste. As a consequence, you will get a lot of appetizing option to pair with Beaujolais’s famous light-boding gamay red wines.
What are the most famous sub-regions and appellations in Beaujolais?
There are different sub-regions within the Beaujolais AOC, such as Juliénas, Régnié, Fleurie, Chenas, and Saint-amour.
Regarding appellattions, the Beaujolais-Villages AOC covers 39 villages that produce distinct wines from 12 appelations like Côte de Brouilly, Beaujolais, Saint-Amour, and Régnié, some of then with me highest classification of Cru Beaujolais.
What is the best wine to try in Beaujolais?
The mineral and fruity character of the red Gamay grape cannot be left without a taste when traveling to the Beaujolais wine region. There are legendary bottles of Gamay being produced in the Morgon region, something worth trying.
What are the main grape varieties in Beaujolais?
Beaujolais is a wine region that has almost the total of its production on Gamay grapes. A little percentage of the whole amount of wines is made from Chardonnay and Aligoté.