Le Grand Tour de Bourgogne

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Flag of France  , Bourgogne,
Thursday, September 13, 2012

Up early and into the car for the three hour drive to Beaune where we are meeting Liz and David Quartly. Weather was dreadful, low cloud and intermittent heavy rain, not auguring well for our week on the boat.

Meet with the Quartlys and had lunch at a small restaurant in Beaune, John had salad with goats cheese, David had the plat de jour, which was roast chicken, Liz had a croquet monsieur and I had quiche Lorraine. Washed down with a bottle of Chablis.

Next we visited the Hospices de Beaune. Built in Flemish style, this hospital was built in the 15th century by Nicholas Rollin and his wife as a hospital providing free medical treatment to the poor, so it was Medicare of the 1400s. It operated as a hospital until the 1970s. It was staffed by a group of very dedicated nuns. We saw the large room where the beds were all lined up head to toe around the walls, the pharmacy with peculiarly labelled jars and the kitchen and a whole lot of other rooms. There were cabinets exhibiting different types of medical equipment, including a self-administering enema. There were four preferred medical treatments, bloodletting and enemas the most popular.

The hospices was privately funded and Nicholas Rollin obviously a great philanthropist for which he is well remembered by the people of Beaune. Wealthy people could also be treated at the hospital; however they were expected to pay. Many would leave a small parcel of their vineyard to the hospital on dying. This has resulted in the hospices owning quite a collection of small vineyards all over the area. Each year there is a wine auction of the wine produced from these vineyards which brings in a great deal of money for the hospices. This practice continues to this very day even though the hospital does not exist in its original form.

We wandered around the attractive city centre and found a small shop, called Vinoboam, offering wine tastings. We went in and tasted three reds and three whites, all local. The wine merchant was a very good communicator and explained the quite complex system of classifying wines in Burgundy. We purchased some wine from him and then set off for our accommodation at La Terre d'Or, located on a hillside just outside Beaune.

La Terre d’Or was gorgeous, a beautiful house set in beautiful gardens. There were several styles of accommodation. We had two rooms in the upper level of the house, well appointed. The owners were Jean Louis and his son Vincent. It was their old house but now they live nearby. Vincent’s wife sculpts and maintains the garden, so it is full of these cute figures of children reclining in childlike poses.

That night we walked into Beaune for dinner at a typical Burgundian restaurant, Le Conty.  John and I had the Jambon Persille, a ham terrine with a parsley coating. John then had Boeuf bourguignone and I had Oeufs maroilles, eggs poached in a wine based stew. We had cheese and dessert as it is always more economical to order the menu d’hote which usually has three or four courses.

Vincent has told us to ask the restaurant to order a taxi to take us back to La Terre d’Or but he also told us to wander around the streets of Beaune to see the light show that occurs nightly on many of the beautiful building. What he didn’t tell us was that we would not be able to hail a taxi in the street. So it took us over an hour to secure a taxi to take us home. Had we realised how difficult it would be and that we would only drink two bottles of wine at dinner we would have driven.
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