Celebrations as UNESCO lists Burgundy Climats

By | 12 Jul 2015
Entry to Chateau Meursault - evening

Entry to Chateau Meursault – evening

Along with Champagne, the Burgundian ‘climats’ of the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune have just been listed as World Heritage sites.

It’s been a huge amount of work for the Burgundian committee – 8 years to prepare dossiers, put the case across and achieve the recognition.  Apparently, amongst the rewards should be more tourists and funding to preserve the area.

Well, there are already a fair amount of tourists here, especially as Beaune is already listed, but I guess the new status for the climats (‘climats’ being a viticultural plot of land) preserves that influx.

Then there’s funding – I understand it is the climats that are protected not the vignerons, but I’m still not sure how funding can be used across privately owned land.

So you may wonder why some already very wealthy vignerons need money to preserve what would essentially be their vineyards.

Of course, some of the vignerons are smaller, and have vines in only one or few ‘climats’ which may have been hit by the hail, so they’re only wealthy on paper, they’d have to sell their vines to see that wealth, which they’d rather not do.  But they’re not starving.

Paulee des climatsI suspect ‘access’ to funding is not the same as receiving funding, so maybe one has to prepare a case for each demand, and that once I hear what it is to be used for I’ll probably wonder why on earth I didn’t see that before.

H, donning his wine writing hat, attended the press conference immediately before the celebrations hoping for some insights but it was an evening of congratulation only, with many speeches saying pretty much the same thing and thanks all round.  Which means he will have to read right the way through the press pack and hope it’s in there (ugh, effort!).

But ‘Fier’ and ‘Fierté’ (pride) were words much bandied about at the conference and the celebrations held at Chateau Meursault, and that is the key to it for many of them.

It is a recognition of their fine heritage and the differences between the many appellations, and a way of ensuring that all remains intact when passing it on to future generations.

I have heard some locals talk about how within 50 years it won’t be possible to grow pinot noir in the region because of global warming.  That’s not really in my lifetime, although if it’s true, it would be a gradual demise and maybe I’ll need to ship in my pinot noir from England!

I wonder what would happen with the World Heritage listing then.  It’s a long way off though.

I’ll hopefully find out more about how any financial aide would be used and update.

But back to the important party…

The celebrations were open to everyone, only needing to reserve a free ticket online.  H heard on the local radio that around 2000 people were expected at the event.

On my hearing that, I was having second thoughts about going.  I hate large crowds.   But you don’t know what something is going to be like until you go, so we did.

The park at the Chateau was large and if there were 2000 people it certainly didn’t feel like it, although we still didn’t manage to meet up with some other people we’d hoped to.  It was also a lovely summer evening, not too hot, not too cold, just right, as though that too had been given a special listing.

The event was called a ‘Paulée’ which is the local term for the celebration for the workers at the end of the grape harvest, and is basically a large, festive, and usually very boozy, picnic.

It was the Paulée des Climats.

Brief speeches of thanks and pride were also held during the paulée, including an amusing one by Bernard Pivot, who was president of the Burgundian support committee.

paulee 001

Bernard Pivot is a well known and fond figure in France – a journalist and television presenter of cultural and literary shows. When I lived in Paris a very long time ago, his show Apostrophes was required viewing, so seeing him and hearing his soft, friendly tones again took me right back to those years.

The speeches were completed with the traditional Burgundian chant (the ‘Ban bourguignon’) and hand movements.  I already knew how to do it but it’s super easy to pick up if you’ve never done it before – especially as it’s usually repeated quite a few times of a same evening (the more booze, the more chants), enabling you to get your practice in.  By the end of an evening you’ll probably be leading one.

I was too busy twisting my hands, trying to look more like a local, to record it.  But I’ll try to record it another time so you can fit straight in anytime you come to Burgundy.

One of the confrères sang a traditional  drinking song about how proud he was to be a Burgundian (Joeux enfants de la Bourgogne).  I couldn’t help thinking how lovely it must be to have song with connectedness to your home place, whose lyrics are light-hearted and nothing to do with either religion or war.

Again, I was too taken with the scene to remember my phone – you have to live in the moment, not view it through a camera lens.

I have, though, got you a link to the lyrics here.

And the next moment was a band playing what I thought were surprising musical choices.  As it was a French family event I was expecting middle of the road French songs, but they hit out covers of White Stripes and some heavy rock numbers. Everyone of all ages seemed to be really into it, though, including us.  Live music at outdoor events – what’s not to love?

And of course, it wouldn’t be a celebration if it wasn’t completed with fireworks.

As is often said to children when they don’t want to go somewhere, ‘You’ll enjoy it when you’re there’, and we did.  It was great to take part in the celebrations

Maybe we’ll be part of Burgundy’s future too.

Paulee des climats fireworks

Paulee des climats fireworks


Lou Messugo

4 thoughts on “Celebrations as UNESCO lists Burgundy Climats

  1. Chrissie

    Some interesting thoughts on the new listings, which there’s been much fanfare about! I would suspect the money will go to the appellation ‘committee’, the syndicat who manage the climat in question (like with apartment blocks!), to be used as they see best for the climat/appellation as a whole, but who knows! Hope your Burgundian summer is going well! Chrissie #allaboutfrance

    1. Back to Burgundy Post author

      Thanks for your comment Chrissie. I wasn’t wondering who was going to ask for funding, but how it was to be used. I can come up with several hypothesis (more tourism leaflets, scientific research) but they don’t give any indication themselves, and they fought for the classification. It’ll be interesting to see in time, but as I wrote, at the moment it seems to be simply about the pride of having their region recognised in such a way.

  2. Phoebe @ Lou Messugo

    That sounds like a fun celebration; I find France does local fêtes like this with a bit of tradition mixed with modernity very well. I’d heard about Bourgogne and Champagne being added to UNESCO heritage but I didn’t really know what it entailed (other than the obvious: more visitors). It’ll be interesting to see how it works out. On a very superficial level I was happy about the additions to the list as I’m on a mission to see as many UNESCO places as possible and as I’d already been to both Bourgogne and Champagne many times I suddenly had 2 new additions to my list without having moved!!! (Like I said…superficial, but fun!) Thanks for linking up again to #AllAboutFrance


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