This article is part of the The Great American Reach Around series.

Alexandre "Apoual Brabiste" Wolmer

Beaune, France

Ask us about America and it will echo as USA in our ears, and we will begin to talk about Iraq, flying from a topic to another like a surface-to-air missile. Insist a little bit, and we will describe a fascinating but suspicious alien world we've only ever seen through a telescope (or television). Trust me, in Beaune, island of peace in the tranquility of this vineyard ocean called Côte-d'Or, Burgundy, anything that doesn't wear a sun-hat or contains less than 12% of alcohol (like a hamburger) is considered as a threat from outer-space.

Here almost everything revolves around tourism and wine (literally), and even if we know the ways of the 21st century there is still no McDonald restaurant in a 19 miles radius. Between Dijon and Lyon on the main route between North and South of France, we, the 22,000 "Beaunois" [bone-wah], are not that far from civilization. However, the rare industries we had, flew elsewhere leaving us with only vineyards to occupy our sons and tourism to provide work for our charming daughters.

In the early 1900's an inhabitant named Louis Chevrolet found the best way to get a career: he left his bike repair shop and went to do business in a far far-away country. Maybe this was also due to the lack of proper entertainement. Our numerous bacchic festivals aside, we don't have any exceptional ways to entertain ourself. Perhaps boredom is in our nature.

Several scientists were born here. One, physiologist Etienne-Jules Marey, almost invented the first Western Film ever. Well, he actually built the first film-camera prototype to film running horses. However, we have everything for a tourist to enjoy; an historical city center surrounded by ramparts, old churches, old buildings with colourful roofs, rivers to walk along, and plenty of souvenirs and wine shops. Fine for you, but what really makes me fond of this town and made my childhood the best ever, is the pearl of awesomeness I used to play around as a kid: a real tank from WWII.

If one day you pay me a visit, you will discover that even if almost every misconception about France is somehow true, we are not so rude here, maybe only a little bit shy. Sure, people who talk out loud tickle our mustache, but around a glass of wine it doesn't really matter.


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