Mark and I set off on our first weekend road trip since we took Mom and Dad to the Loire Valley in September. We left Friday night around 6:00. It would have been closer to 5:45 but when we plugged our destination into our nav system, instead of telling us how to get there it asked us which of 15 permutations of the name “Beaune” we wanted, such as “Hautes Cotes de Beaune” or “Bouze les Beaune” or “Beaune Cote d’Or” . We were lost and we hadn’t even left the damn parking garage yet. We took a chance and picked one and prayed we wouldn’t end up in the wrong town later that night.
Our next hurdle was getting out of Paris. The traffic leaving town made I-10 West on a Friday afternoon look like a high-speed racetrack. We crept along for an hour, all the while motorcycles were flying between us and the lane to our left, threatening to take our driver’s side mirror with them if we dared lean too far toward the left boundary of our lane. Mark finally moved to the left lane so that I had the cycles whizzing by me for a change. Changing lanes was quite a feat in itself, however, because the car traffic was moving so slowly that we couldn’t gradually nose our way over to the next lane for fear of having a motorcycle in our side. Suffice it to say that the lesson we took away was that if you can’t leave Paris by 3:30 Friday afternoon, you should take the train (where we could have been drinking and relaxing) or leave at the crack of dawn on Saturday. Friday evening traffic leaving Paris is no bueno.
We finally were able to drive at a nice speed when we got out of Paris and onto the main motorway. We made our first visit to a French “travel stop” along the highway, for bathrooms and snacks. I was amused that they had a nice wine section, even at what would be a truck stop at home. We bought a local bottle and they even opened it for us, so that I could get started on my little weekend holiday right away. Merci Mr. Travel Stop Guy!
We arrived in Beaune around 9:45 and were so ready to get out of the car. Our hotel room was newly renovated and very nice.
The highlight of Beaune was the “Hotel -Dieu”, a gorgeous building that served as a hospital from 1451 until 1971, and that ain’t no typo, folks! The most impressive room was the Paupers’ Ward, which had beds for the poorest patients. At the front of the hall is a chapel, which was opened to the patients every three hours so that they could experience mass from their beds. During epidemics, each bed held two people, and the building was not heated until the 19th century. I can tell you it gets plenty cold in there, even with heat.
To get from one room to another, we returned to this gorgeous open courtyard.
The pharmacy was also very interesting, lined with cupboards full of old jars and bottles.
In addition to the amazing collection of pharmacy jars, there was a most interesting assortment of old medical tools, including syringes that looked as though they should have been used for applying caulk to the bathroom. I am SO glad to be living in the day of anesthesia and non-invasive surgeries!
The Hotel Dieu was a fabulous place to visit- don’t miss it if you are in the area.
The Saturday morning market in Beaune was lively and fun to walk around. It was sunny but very cold- probably close to freezing.
Of course there was the required old church in Beaune. This one was actually nicer from the outside, particularly at night when it was beautifully lit.
It should not have come as any surprise to us that the Burgundy area is extremely wine-centric. The countryside was one vineyard touching another, looking just like rows of twigs at this time of year. There were gorgeous wine shops all over Beaune, which we enjoyed browsing. Every corner boasted a winemaker offering tours and tastings, but not in winter. I would love to return when the vines are heavy with grapes, to experience the wine culture that pervades the area. In the meantime, we brought home a few bottles to whet our appetites.
Home again, and preparing for the week ahead. The English pub around the corner is showing the Texans game at 6:30 this evening, so we may walk on over for a taste of home.
I wish you all a good start to your week. Thanks for checking in for your taste of France!