Monday, July 27th ~ Macon and Beaune, France
We are in the southern most part of Burgundy. Our ship is docked in Macon on the river Saone (rhymes with bone), but our destination is Beaune. To get there we have a wonderful ride through little French villages including Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny- Montrachet, Meursault, and Volnay. We passed by vineyard after vineyard, along with many fields growing a large variety of grains and vegetables.
A short photo stop in Puligny-Montrachet allowed us to stretch our legs.
Beaune ~ probably most famous for being in the center of the wine country and is considered the “Capital of Burgundy wines”. Some of the vineyards in the area are considered UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Arriving in Beaune, we had a couple of hours to explore and have lunch before meeting back up with the group. Known for their Saturday market, for such specialties as Bresse chickens, Jura cheeses, and seasonal specialties such as truffles, this is a gourmand delight.
Tim humored me when I said I wanted to have a traditional “Burgundy” style meal. We chose a little cafe, Le Carnot, and proceeded to order six escargot, boeuf bourguignon, a selection of three cheeses and of course creme brûlée with a vanilla bourbon sauce for dessert. We shared the meal, and it was more than enough for the two of us. The total was €29.70 for the two of us, plus drinks and tip. Honestly the meal was good, but not great.
We have become spoiled by the exceptional meals on board our ship…
After lunch we met back up with our tour guide for a visit to our primary stop, the Hospices de Beaune.
Hospices de Beaune ~The original building, the Hotel Dieu (hospital) was beautifully constructed and is well-known for the colorful tire roof. It remained an active hospital until the 1970’s. Today it is a museum. Patients are still seen at nearby modern hospitals.
These are glazed-tile roofs in red, brown, green and yellow interlaced to form an intricate design.
A little history of the area would include the Hundred Years’ War ending in 1435 with the signing of the treaty of Arras. The area remained a hostile environment with both marauding bands and the plague running rampant. By far the majority of the population were considered destitute.
In an effort to help the poor people, in 1443, Nicolas Rolin (chancellor of Burgundy) and his wife founded Hospices de Beaune as a hospital for the poor and along with it, a religious order.
“The Hospices de Beaune received the first patient on 1 January 1452. Elderly, disabled and sick people, with orphans, women about to give birth and the destitute have all been uninterruptedly welcomed for treatment and refuge from the Middle Ages until today.” ~ Wikipedia
Here is what Burgundytoday.com had to say about the hospital:
“The Hôtel-Dieu was built in the golden age of Burgundy in 1443 by Nicholas Rolin, the Chancellor of Duke Philippe-le-Bon. Beaune at the time was suffering from poverty and famine after the Hundred Years’ War and so as a sweetener, Rolin and his wife, founded the Hospice for the Poor, giving it an annual income and its own resources, vines and salt works.
“Right up until the 20th century, the sick were cared for by the Sisters of the Hospices de Beaune in the magnificent building. Its reputation spread far and wide and it became known as the ‘Palace of the Poor’. Donations were received, new rooms added with works of art included. Hospitals in other communes, Pommard, Volnay and Meursault joined forces to make up the Hospices, bringing with them donations of vineyards, which today total 53 hectares. The famous wine auction, a charity sale, held each November at the Hospices is still reaping the rewards.
“Down each side of the Great Hall with its wooden vaulted roof, built like the hull of a ship, the curtained four-poster beds are aligned. The chapel at the end of the room is an intricate part of it. Here the polyptych painted by the Flemish artist Roger Van de Weyden representing the Last Judgement used to hang, seen by the sick only on Sundays and feast days. Today this is now on display in a room of its own. You can visit the kitchen which has recently been restored, the pharmacy and dispensary which used many herbs grown in the ‘jardins des simples’ behind.”
“The Room of the Poor measures 50x14x16 meters. On the ceiling, the exposed painted frame is in an upside down boat-skiff shape, and in each beam are sculpted caricatures of important inhabitants of Beaune. ” ~ Wikipedia
The chapel was at the end of the large room to allow patients to attend mass from their bed.
One more area we walked through showcased some beautiful artwork, including The Beaune Altarpiece, by Rogier van der Weyden. The panels were too large to capture properly in one shot, so I broke them up into the center, left and right section. They show the judgement, with being saved and going to heaven or damned and going below.
Over the years the monks were gifted with wines and vineyards. This allowed them to develop a unique fundraising plan. The annual wine auction of Hospices de Beaune is now the primary wine auction in France with the funds going to support the hospital.
Back on board late afternoon, with plenty of time to simply relax and watch the beautiful scenery pass us by as we moved toward our next stop – Lyon.
So peaceful, incredibly relaxing…
Gratitude Moment: Today I am grateful for kind people like this couple who saw a need, donated their own funds to build the hospital, and initially maintained it so that the local poor community could be treated medically with dignity, proper nutrition, and spiritual support. I’m also grateful that I was able to enjoy a typical burgundy meal, complete with escargot in the shell and did not have a “Pretty Woman” episode where the snail shell went flying through the air and was caught by the attentive waiter. Sometimes it is the big things, some days the small things that delight and give so much pleasure.
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