Ah, Burgundy, the heart of France. Wine country. The stuff French vacations are made of.
[Note: The trip is now over, and we are safely home. But I’m going to continue the story right where I left off…]
Beaune train station was bereft of cabs, so after a 20-min wait we finally dragged our bags across town to the Hotel Foch, which is basically a pub with some rooms in the back. The guy running the place was really nice, and spoke great English. In fact, in all our travels in France, we never found one rude person. Talk about a stereotype destroyed.
We sat at a cafe in town that afternoon, drinking wine, which was delicious and cheap. We could hear a couple at a nearby table who were American, and whom I guessed were from Texas. They were likely in their 60s. At a certain point, another couple walked up to them from the street, and it became clear that they were all traveling together when the approaching man said:
“Ya’ll look like ya’ll’re havin’ a good time with ya’ll’s selves!”
Hearing this, how could I not have instantly recognized this same Texas guy when we saw him again 5 days later in Marseille, walking along the sidewalk near the Vieux Port?
Our first dinner in Beaune was gorgeous: beef Bourguignon, and an angel hair pasta with veal and liver. So rich! The woman running the restaurant suggested a nice red for us, and we talked with an English guy who was driving his dog, a chocolate lab, across the country.
We wanted to see a vineyard, but instead we decided to go to a cellar. Unfortunately, we didn’t really pick the most tourist-friendly cellar. Rather than walking into any of the numerous places with signs outside welcoming tourists, we went to a place where the book said locals buy wine in bulk. There was nobody near the front door, and no obvious way in once we walked up the driveway. A guy with big boots on pointed down a staircase, and then called to a woman down below who beckoned us to follow her into the basement. She had two clients down there trying wines. We waited until she had finished with them, then absolutely failed to make any meaningful communication with her about trying wines. Although there were tons of barrels down there, and it looked like it could be tapped, we ended up drinking from three bottles, two of which we bought. They were modestly priced. We drank half of one that night in the room, then left it and the full one on the train the next day when we left. Money well spent!
A random stop in Beaune was the Museum of Wine, which was somewhat amusing but sadly did not include a glass of the stuff at the end of the tour!
Another attraction is the Hospices de Beaune, which was founded in 1443 to care for the poor as a free hospital. It has a magnificent great building with a beautiful roof:
But it also has random mannequin nuns, tending the sick and cooking in the kitchen. Strange.