on our way to the South of France
12.07.2012 - 14.08.2012
(Hotel de Dieu, Beaune)
Thurs, July 12
And now the travel style changes again. We were on the move in Paris by Metro and by foot and by boat. Today, we got our car. We're heading for Provence, with a stop in the town of Beaune on the way.
For the second time, we've signed with Peugeot's short-term lease plan. We got a brand-new 5008, which has enough room for five people and their luggage (given that we don't have a ton of luggage). It's also automatic because I don't drive standard (to my shame and embarassment in Europe, although we've sure noticed a lot more "big" cars in France this time).
This Peugeot is incredibly high-tech. It doesn't have a "park" gear; the parking brake is automatic. It doesnt' idle; the engine goes off and on instantly in "eco" mode. The speed is shown on a "eyes-up" glass panel that can only be read from the driver's angle (Ha! Nobody else knows how fast I'm going...) It also has GPS, which I've never used before, but am growing to really like. We switched it to English, and she sounds like a firm but fair British schoolteacher. We've named her "Annabel."
Beaune is a pretty medieval town, with much of its walls and remparts intact, and generous pedestrian-only area. We stayed at the "Hotel de la Cloche," which itself is five hundred years old, originally a coach-stop on those routes. It's all exposed beams and charm, and just outside the walls.
We had no trouble getting there, and my parents enjoyed their "cottage" style room on the single-floor annex of the hotel, with its front gardens. We had a decent dinner in the main square, Place Carnot.
Fri, July 13
One of Beaune's attractions, especially for Anica, is that they make mustard here. We visited the "Moutarderie" in the morning. The tour guide explained that Canadians use more mustard than anyone, that we even put on bread instead of butter. Everyone looked at us. "Yup," said Anica. (It's true for her, at least). We had lots of tasting, even got to "make" mustard by grinding the seeds, saw videos and had an audioguide at a couple of points. It's a very thorough visit and was worth doing.
The Hotel-Dieu (or Hospices de Beaune), though, is what Beaune's claim to fame is. It's a medieval hospital for the poor, and it is one of the most interesting historical sites I've ever seen. It's distinguished visually by the colourful slate tile rooftops - vivid geometric patterns. It's a huge complex, and the hall with the sickbeds has been faithfully re-created. The founder, Nicolas Rolin, and his wife, Guigone de Salins, really cared about the poor people when they established this place in 1445. We were all really surprised by this as a highlight of our trip, and we soaked up all the wonderful stories about it through the centuries.
(Sick bed in the Hall of the Poor)
Dinner was also a highlight, and a bit of a splurge. We ate in "Caveau des Arches," which is in one of the famous "wine cellars" of Beaune. Good shelter from the pouring rain. The tables were set out in between the series of low, vaulted ceilings, with white-painted brick and recessed lighting. The food was very good. I had their Beef Bourgignon. This is Burgundy, after all. Anica tried escargot and liked it. She wore her new sandals she bought today her in Beaune. Good stopping here. After dinner, we looked at a little of the light show that they do. Shifting images are projected onto the front of their historical buildings - very pretty.
(One of Beaune's building projects...I mean projections)