Beaune, Burgundy, France
15 Apr 2012
|Spent 9 nights in Beaune, (pronounced Bon) wine capital of Burgundy. (Pop 22,000) and is the centre for the wine industry with many wine villages surrounding it.
The owners of our attic apartment (modernly refurbished) collected us from the train station and delivered us to the apartment only a few minutes away. Awaiting was a French stick and bottle of wine for us. It was 2 bedroom, so plenty of room.
Beaune is a walled city, with about half of the battlements, ramparts, and the moat, having survived and in good condition, and the central "old town" is extensive with a couple of wonderful landmark buildings worth mentioning.
Founded in 1443 is the Hospices de Beaune, with its beautiful glazed tiled roof. It was built and run as a hospital for the poor and needy and was used as a hospital till 1955.
The nuns (nurses) lived above the ward. The last one left in 2006.
Until 1984 it was used as a home for the elderly. Its now been recreated as it was originally and I guess you’d call it a museum.
There were massive fireplaces, modern (by medieval standards) ways of treating patients, dispensory, kitchen. Other private rooms where rich people could come and pay for the priveledge of being treated.
It ran by donations and by the proceeds of a 60 hectare vineyard which is still kept and they have a yearly auction which is now run by Christies.
It has an original painted alterpiece from the little chapel (now kept in another room, monitored) and the largest collection of 15th and 16th C linen chests and tapestrys.
In WW 11, during its German occupation, a french officer, with the help of a doctor and I suppose a mortician, was pronounced dead but escaped to unoccupied territory with the aid of an empty coffin.
The other building built 1120 was the basilica of Notre Dame. Displayed there are a series of huge tapestrys on the Life of Mary. Woven in Flanders In 1500. Maybe in the very same textile plant we vistied in Ghent!!
The weather had been mostly cold and showery, but we managed to get a nice day to go for a walk up the hill thru the vineyards for a nice view back to the town. And another evening at 9.30 we ventured out (between showers) for a walk around town which is illuminated at night.
Because of the dismal days, and no english TV, I finished the book that was supposed to last and could find no english books in the shops. Disaster!! A big market was held in town on Saturday and had several 2nd hand stalls. A chap was selling books….all french from what I could see, however Paul asked him “Anglaise?” and he very proudly bought up 3 paperbacks in English. All in the same condition. Very old, with smelly brown pages, but desperate times call for desperate measures so I chose a murder mystery, last printed – 1963. Price: originally 3/- and the charming thief had the nerve to charge me 2 Euros!! Can’t remember pre decimal currency, but that sounds like about a 600% profit!!! However I was very happy and I’m sure so was he!
I love markets and there were a lot of very interesting food stalls in the covered market. Lots of garlic butter stuffed snails. Didn’t see any frogs legs. Weren’t too adventurous when choosing what to get for tea and as it was Pauls turn to cook we got some chipolatas and they were the best I’ve ever tasted. It was the cooking of them, of course.
We took the train to Dijon one day. Theres huge tram works being done at the moment so the town was a bit disrupted and sad looking, however we had a nice meal and glass of wine in a restaurant with a beautifal painted mural on the back garden; quite lifelike!
For our last day, we decided to go out for lunch. Eating the main meal in the middle of the day is pretty popular. So we found a café where we had been for coffee once before. Full of locals and the staff don’t speak english, but very friendly (like, smiling instead of glaring) and they had a board out saying Menu of the day 12.90 Euros. 3 courses plus a ¼ carafe of wine. How good is this. I had been doing a fair bit of study on reading menus but blowed if I could make out what any of them were except “fromage” (cheese).
We had a choose of 3 for each course, so I made it up and had fingers crossed. We were duly presented with a scallop pie and salmon terrine for entrée. Beef kebabs and a creamy chicken dish for main and chocolate tart and pineapple slices for dessert. We didn’t fight over who had what and both enjoyed all plates.
Still raining on our last day and the owners turned up at 6.30am to take us back to the train, with a croissant each for us to eat on the train. Lovely people.
At Lyon we caught an Ezijet flight to Rome.