Near Saint-Léger-sous-Beuvray, an easy day trip from Beaune or Dijon, is Bibracte, a marvelous, open museum of Gaulish life set on a hillside that holds an archeological dig you may tour. Bibracte is the reason you go to St. Leger and the museum is not in the town but on Mont Beuvray, a few kilometers from the town.
In the 2nd and 1st centuries BC at the end of the Iron Age, a large Gaulish town stood on Mont Beuvray. Surrounded by ramparts, Bibracte was the capital of one of the most powerful peoples in Gaul, the Aedui. It is here that Vercingetorix was proclaimed head of the Gaulish coalition in the year 52 BC. It is also at Bibracte that Julius Caesar, the victor of Alesia, completed the writing of his "Gallic wars" that you probably read in Latin class.
I have a Virtual Tourist Travel Page on Bibracte at http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/7ba16/16446/4/ or check the museum web site listed below.
A great day trip from Beaune is west to St. Fargeau and then on to Chantier medieval de Guedelon where they are building a chateau using only 13th century tools and 13th century methods. It is a work in progress that you can view from year to year as it is completed. There is a veritable medieval village built up there now and you are free to wander through and talk to the artisans as you watch them at their work.
We were there on a very rainy day in May and the rain did not deter the many French schoolchildren on field trips to the site. They trod about in their Wellies and carrying their little backpacks thoroughly enjoying themselves. We had our umbrellas but unfortunately not our Wellingtons so had very wet feet by the end of the visit, but it was a wonderful experience and one I'd highly recommend.
Guédelon is open from 15th March to 2nd November 2010 but closed on Wednesday, except in July and August. There is a tavern and a marvelous gift shop. Photos are allowed.
The Musée des Beaux-Arts of Beaune is not as important as that of bigger cities, nevertheless it is worth visiting. It houses art works by local painter Félix Ziem (1821-1911), but also Flemish and Dutch paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries, medieval and Renaissance sculptures and a collection of Gallo-Roman archaeology from the surroundings of Beaune.
These photos show various paintings that I cannot identify with certainty. I'd be glad if you helped me do that. I'm pretty sure the fourth painting (maybe also the third?) is by Courbet.
You can buy an inclusive ticket to visit this museum, the Musée Etienne-Jules Marey and the Hôtel-Dieu.
The Musée des Beaux-Arts is close until March 2006, as you can read from the site below (in French).
The Hôtel de ville ("town hall") houses the Musée des Beaux-Arts (see the next tip) and the Musée Etienne-Jules Marey, dedicated to Etienne-Jules Marey from Beaune (1830-1904), who invented chronophotography and is therefore considered as a forerunner of cinema.
A lot of photographs and chronophotographs are exhibited in this museum. The latter are photos disposed on a circular support which you can roll, producing the effect of a moving image. It is a pretty interesting and unusual museum. I suppose photos were forbidden, since my father, who usually photographs a lot, hasn't taken any pics inside.
You can buy an inclusive ticket for this museum, the Musée des Beaux-Arts and the Hôtel-Dieu.