This weekend we decided to take a day trip to Beaune, which is a town in lower Burgundy, about an hour and a half north on the train. It is known for having a groovy old 14th century hospital that you can tour, as well as being a center for wine tourism. Underneath Beaune, there are hundreds of caves holding thousands upon thousands of vintages that will not be opened for years to come.
Wandering around Beaune.First we toured the beautiful old hospital, the Hotel Dieu. This is a picture of the courtyard of the hospital. The building was very elaborately decorated and gorgeous. The rooms for the sick had many tiny beds with curtains, and the pharmacie was full of bottles of bizarre treatments, like 'Vomit Nut potion.' Be glad you dont have an ailment that calls for that.
The hospital also had a very well preserved painting of the last judgement, which shows the archangel calling the dead from their graves; the dead walking to the left were entering heaven, while those heading to the right are entering the fires of hell. Among the saints in the crowd congregating on the left are the founder of the hospital, Nicolas Rolin, as well as the painter himself, who is the bald guy in the back. Atone, ye sinners!
After touring the Hotel Dieu, we got down to the serious business of Burgandy wine tasting. We went to a place that our guidebook recommended, the Patriarche Pere et Fils. While I had mixed feelings about supporting the patriarchy, the wines were awfully good. The tour involved 45 minutes of wandering through candlelit tunnels filled with wine bottles, with occasional tastings via self-service pours into a little tin cup called a tastevin, which we got to keep as a souvenir. The purpose of this little shallow cup is to let you admire the color of the wine.
Here is a pic I took in the tunnels. The piles of bottles were labelled with lot number, and some bottles would be locked up with signs that said, 'do not open until 2094' and whatnot. After all that booze, I had to rehydrate with a Badoit.
Then, in another small disaster which was perhaps owed to drinking too much, we misread the train schedule and had to spend the night in Beaune. Oops.
But, we did go to dinner and had one of the best meals I have had here in France. We went to the cafe on the right side in the picture below, and I ordered the Bresse chicken. The Bresse region is known to cultivate among the best chicken in France, and probably the world; it is the only poultry to have been granted its own protected designation of origin (appellation d'origine contrôlée). My Bresse dish came in a cream sauce with morels and asparagus, and was incredibly tender and delicious.
We stayed at the Hotel des Ramparts, which was pretty nice given that we had to track the room down at 11 PM.
Here is B, cheerful in the morning.On Sunday we decided to make the most of another day in Beaune, and went and toured another cave, the Marche aux vins, which featured a mind-boggling taste of 18 wines. We got a little punchy wandering around in the dark with our tastevins. Here is B trying to look serious about contemplating a Chorey-Les-Beaune.After that we ran to the station and thankfully made a train home, on which we had a well deserved snooze.