Last Updated on May 31, 2023
On a recent trip to Beaune, France, I stopped by the one of the Burgundy town’s most-iconic sites : the Edmond Fallot mustard mill and workshop (atelier). Opened in 1840, the workshop claims to be the only remaining family-owned and independent company in the region to produce French mustards according to strictly traditional methods and recipes.
Today, Edmond Fallot is widely prized for its myriad varieties of highly aromatic mustards, and produces adventurous and gourmet flavors ranging from tarragon to walnut, blackcurrant to gingerbread.
Packaged in the brand’s elegant little glass jars or (for larger formats) old-fashioned mustard pots in ceramic, the mustards make easy fodder for tourists hoping to bring away a little emblem (and taste) of Burgundy.
I paid a visit to the Beaune mill and shop on a chilly but sun-lit day in April, traveling to a quiet street near the outskirts of Beaune to reach it. I was greeted by the lovely tourism manager Sophie Chapuis, who agreed to showed me around the mill and walk me through their public tour circuit.
Sophie first showed me an enormous stone grinding wheel, displayed in the courtyard alongside a vintage car in mustard yellow that was lettered (bien sûr) with the company name. She explained that similar stone implements were still used by the company, now owned by founder Edmond Fallot’s grandson, Marc Marc Désarménien, to grind the whole mustard seeds used in all its recipes.
“This is a traditional process that we are still committed to using”, she explained, adding that few companies continued to do so.
We then head inside the 19th-century building to walk through several rooms with museum-like displays describing the history of the company and its mustard-manufacturing processes.
The “Discovery Tour”
There are several guided tours offered on most days, and in recent years, Sophie says, the company has expanded the number of bilingual (French and English) and all-English guided tours offered on the premises, both culminating with tastings. (You can find out more about the guided tours, and book one if desired, by visiting this page).
The “Discovery” tour takes you through a series of exhibition rooms where you can see, smell and taste the general process of mustard-making; it’s a pleasant and not-overwhelming tour that should suit curious passersby as well as mustard connoisseurs.
You learn about the cultivation, harvest, and processing of mustard seeds, which are painstakingly extracted from the flowering plant. Edmond Fallot uses only mustard cultivated in Burgundy, which allows the company to claim the “moutarde de Bourgogne” appellation, a special regional label designed to distinguish regional French mustards from those made with seeds cultivated in Canada and elsewhere.
But such strict rules around ingredients sourcing comes with its challenges. In the wake of recent droughts and the war in Ukraine, a global shortage in mustard plants has made it difficult for manufacturers to keep up with demand, and as late as 2022 certain supermarket shelves usually well-stocked with French mustards were sparse.
At least on the surface of things, Edmond Fallot is holding up against the headwinds, likely thanks in part to strong branding and a reputation for traditional quality.
As we move through the touring and exhibit rooms, Sophie shows me an area in which visitors can make their own mustards from whole seeds and vinegar (producing a more traditional “moutardes en graines” with the seeds intact), and an upstairs area filled with old barrels and other old-world industrial implements for mustard-making.
Through the walls in the latter area, you can hear the hum of machines producing “yellow gold” in the adjoining manufacturing area– and even smell a whiff of mustard on the air.
The “Strong Sensations” Tour
Heading up a lift and through a series of corridors, we move into the actual mustard workshop, where Sophie takes me through the steps of the company’s “Strong Sensations” guided tour for visitors. \
Here, an assemblage of machines hum, whir and visibly release ground mustard seeds; these are then conveyed to other machines where they are mixed with vinegar or white wine (depending on the recipe) and imbued with flavors such as blackcurrant or fresh basil, for more gourmet versions.
Sophie notes that inside the mechanical grinding machines that look entirely modern are stone grinding wheels much like the one decorating the courtyard. “You can’t see it, but it’s essentially making the mustards in much the same way they’ve been made since the founding of the company– except now there’s a machine to do the hard work of grinding”.
We move into a room with views (through glass) onto enormous industrial containers in– you guessed it, mustard yellow– and bearing labels reading “Moutarde de Bourgogne”and “Moutarde de Dijon.
Sophie explains that once the mustard seeds are processed and the company’s two base recipes are made (Dijon mustard, usually made with vinegar, and “Burgundy mustard”, made with white wine from the region), they’re stored in these containers prior to flavoring, packaging and labeling.
She also cautions that mustards don’t retain their sharp, “hits-you-right-in-the-nostril” flavors forever– after a few months, even if refrigerated, they’ll lose that sharpness once containers are opened. “Some people don’t like the sharpness of fresh mustards– but if you do, don’t open a jar unless you plan to use it up quickly”, she says.
The Shop & Tasting Bar
Our tour of the premises concluded, we return to the brightly lit shop and tasting bar, where you can browse the entire range of mustards from the brand, including moutarde de Bourgogne and moutarde de Dijon (see our separate feature on the history of “la moutarde française” if you’re curious to learn more about the differences, and how they originated).
There are plenty of gift-worthy options, too, including limited-edition mustards flavored with cocoa, white wine from Jura, or smoked paprika– all of which I have tried and found delicious.
You’ll also find a range of moutardes a l’ancienne (whole-grain mustards), many packaged in gift-friendly ceramic jars that make interesting home decor items after the contents have been consumed.
And at the mustard tasting bar, you can sample as many varieties as you like, and even fill your own jars (note that this isn’t recommended if you plan to bring any back on a plane with you– customs won’t take kindly to it).
Edmond Fallot – La Moutarderie, Beaune: Location & Practical Info
The “Moutarderie” is located on a quiet side street in Beaune, about 10 minutes on foot from popular town sites such as the Hospices de Beaune (highly recommended).
- Address: 31 rue du Faubourg Bretonnière, 21200 Beaune (France)
- Tel. +33 (0)3 80 22 10 02
- Visit the official website for more info on opening times, tours & prices
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Courtney Traub is the Founder and Editor of Paris Unlocked. She’s a longtime Paris resident who now divides her time (as well as she can manage) between the French capital and Norwich, UK. Co-author of the 2012 Michelin Green Guide to Northern France & the Paris Region, she has written and reported stories for media outlets including Radio France Internationale, Reed Business Information, WWD, and The Associated Press. She has also been interviewed as an expert on Paris and France by the BBC, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Le Figaro, Matador Network and other publications. In addition to pursuing an insatiable interest in French culture, history, food and art, Courtney is a scholar of literature and cultural history whose essays and reviews have appeared in various forums.