Saturday, 19 September 2015

Beaune



We made up some fruit salad for breakfast this morning from our remaining bits of fruit. It is a refreshing start to the morning. Then out we head to the main reason that I chose to come to Beaune, the Hotel Dieu (Hotel God) or Hospice de Beaune.

In 1441, a local noble man, Nicolas Rolin, decided to build a place for the poor and ill to be looked after. There had been a hundred year war in the area and this town alone had lost 400 families with a further 400 families being destitute. Two years later the Hotel Dieu was opened. Nicolas, arranged for the sick to be cared for by Nuns who were also housed within the building and he personally employed the physican and apothecary. But most of all Nicolas was a man of great foresight, while he recognized it is all well and good to donate a building and set it all up, the ongoing expenses of such an enterprise would be onerous for future generations. So as part of his donation he included 60 hectares of the best Burgundy wine vineyards, which to this day produces some of Frances best wines. Each year in November the wine is sold off and the money is allocated to the hospital and also to one other different charity each year.

The hospital (a name probably not really in use at the time) opened in 1431 and continued to provide healthcare until 1971 (yes, that says 1971). It was regularly renovated and kept up-to-date with contemporary changes in medicine, but the building itself remained true to its original architecture and design (because it was so good). In the 1970’s a larger hospital was built elsewhere in Beaune and this building was converted into a museum, with the exception that the wine auctions continue to be held here every year.

So the Hotel Dieu took up a lot of the morning, it was really something great to see. We then had an hour or so to wander more around the old city and take a few photos, seeing how inclement the weather was yesterday.

Then it was off to the train station where we caught the train to Dijon. At Dijon, we had to book a ticket on the TGV (fast train) to Mulhouse, where we then changed trains again to Colmar in the Alsace. Three trains in three house sounds tricky, but we have been so impressed with French trains, with all the staff at the stations (all been very helpful) and with our Eurail ticket (so glad we got one!).


So we arrive in Colmar. For me this is a going to be a risky one, as this was an unplanned stop, but recommended by our French friends in Lyon. What this all means of course is that I have done no research or planning…and this leaves me a little worried. There wasn’t a lot of accommodation available when we booked last weekend, so we had a feeling that our luck of wonderful accommodation might have run out. We arrived at our apartment to meet the man with the key at 5:30 and realize we are in a bit of a shoe box for the next 5 nights. At least the place is clean, and recently renovated and quiet. We are a bit disappointed and I am concerned that we might be in another tourist town, is this going to turn out to be a good choice or not. We decide to hold our judgment until we have had a good night’s sleep and had a look around town tomorrow. Anthony has given us a place to eat, another place for ice-cream and suggestions of things to do each day, so I am sure we will be fine. As well, he is checking in with us, via a phone call, every couple of days to ensure that everything is ok. What a lovely man!

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