Once inside the wonderful Beaune apartment, we surveyed the cabinets to make our grocery list. We found 2 coffee cups, 2 juice glasses and 6 wine glasses (2 for red, 2 for white, 2 for champagne). HONEY, I said, we must be in France! Wine (glasses) rules. Beaune is a half-hour south of Dijon and the heart of Burgundy winemaking. Home of great Chablis and Rose wines. This lovely, walled city was our home for a week.
Just like kids on Christmas morning, we beamed when we got the new bikes, but now we get to play with them! The wine routes through the small villages was spectacular. Shared with farm equipment, the paved paths went from estates to wineries. One chateau beckoned riders by offering wine by the glass via chilled dispenser, and a lovely garden in the shade, or take advantage of their lounge chairs. Others offered the full wine tasting experience. Along the route, we would find the entrance to one of 3,000 grape growers, the domain of Famille DuBois, the domain of Famille Franc, many have been the family vineyard for generations. We rode the bikes to several Chatteaus (vineyards). We also rode along canals, in a 10 mile stretch where there were 10 locks. We took photos of a pair of boats rising in a lock and barges along the canal.
Karen, unfortunately, had a little accident. (It always seems to happen). She was putting her bike into the rack, it fell and the falling motion propelled her over the top of the bike. A bummed knee and a road rash face was the worst of the injuries. Now that the bike has scratches, I know it is really mine, I don’t have to worry about that pristine look. Whew, thank goodness.
No French town exists without the market. Twice a week, the main street is a myriad of stalls selling a huge variety of goods. We bought picnic food: olives, cheese, meat, nougat, fruit and of course wine. Karen slipped in a bit of jewelry and perhaps a new blouse. We thoroughly enjoyed the tasting, buying, packaging and moving to the next vendor and doing it all over again. I now know where Costco got the idea. Taste it, buy it. Mmmm good.
Finally, we toured the local highlight: Hotel Dieu. This hospital/hospice was founded in 1443 as a hospital for the poor, with another wing for “paying patients”. It remained an active hospital until the late 1970’s, which is how the building stayed in such good condition. The hospital was built near the end of The Hundred Years War (HYW treaty was 1445) and the majority of the town was destitute and suffering from the plague. Burgundy, at that time, was ruled by Duke Phillip the Good, and Beaune was selected because the building site sits on top a river, to provide ample fresh water for the patients. This hospital was built with the mindset of providing the finest possible care to the patients. It was ahead of its time for sanitation, establishing a nursing school, X-rays, and a well equipped pharmacy. The colorful roof pattern is its distinctive feature, the founder wanted all patients to feel as welcomed and cared for as any royalty, the decorations inside and out were the finest, another way the poor were welcomed as an equal child of God.. Along the way many donations, farms, property and of course vineyards were made to Hotel Dieu by grateful families and generous benefactors. The hospital has its own vineyards and is today, as for the past 600-700 years, financially independent and remains free for any who are in need of medical care.