France: Burgundy

Heart of Beaujolais

Southern crus and communes from Lancié to Tarare
By Michael Edwards

This Guide was last updated on 26 April 2011
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Main towns and villages


Traditionally the wine-trading capital of Beaujolais and seat of the promotional Union des Vins de Beaujolais, today Villefranche is a busy industrial and commercial centre (60,000 inhabitants), its economy increasingly dependent on the manufacture of sportswear, protective clothing, shirts and hosiery. Some fine old houses (15th to 18th century) along the Rue Nationale. The Hôtel de Mignon de Bussy is an exquisite 16th century building with spiral stone staircase and mullioned windows. Also don’t miss the old Hôtel de Ville (1660) built of golden-hued stone from Le Pays des Pierres Dorées (see ‘Drive’).


Old town built as a fortress by the Lords of Beaujeu against the forces of the archbishop of Lyon, Belleville is now the effective winemaking centre of the Haut Beaujolais, also important for the manufacture agricultural machinery. The 12th century church off the high street was once part of an Augustine abbey. The Hôtel-Dieu has guided tours of this 18th century hospital, which cared for the sick until 1991. La Maison des Beaujolais is a few minutes away on the N6 at St-Jean d’Ardières (see ‘Wine Attractions’).


The ancient capital of Beaujolais in the heart of the ‘Villages’ vineyards is another community earning its living from wine. It is worth visiting Les Sources du Beaujolais (see ‘Wine Attractions’) and also exploring the Musée Marius-Audin in the Hôtel de Ville, which includes a colourful collection of traditional folk art of the region and has a wine tasting shop below (see ‘Wine Shops’).

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