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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Beaune by Car and Nice by Rail

Hotel Dieu
Beaune….Day 3

Wayne, how did you pick Beaune to visit from Lyon?  Mary Alice was looking for day trips from Lyon and found it.  What she didn’t know is that Beaune was also on my list of places to see in Burgundy (Fr: Bourgogne). To get there we rented a car at the train station.  Rental cars (99% of them) in France or Europe are stick shift and diesel.  Be prepared to dodge motor cycles, bikes, pedestrians, and buses.  You cannot survive without a GPS.  I have a Garmin Nuvi 255 with a Euro chip.  The chip needs to be updated.  For example it had me going the wrong way on a one-way, driving in a bus-only lane and turning where a street used to be.  Anyhow we made it out of Lyon and finally found the A-6, the Auto-Route to Beaune.  We were there in two hours.

Beaune is a very, very old city, dating from the 15th Century.  It is located about 40 km from Dijon with a population of 23,000.  It sits in the middle of the Burgundy wine area. 

The early settlers of Beaune built a huge wall which encircles the town.  

It has bastions and parapets which are still there today.  Beaune is famous for a medieval hospital named Hotel-Dieu des Hospices Civils de Beaune, built in 1443. 

We arrived and after visiting the tourist office for a map and directions, we parked on the north side of the village and began our walking tour of the Vielle Ville. Nola says when visiting French villages, always ask for the "old town". That's where all the history is along with the best sidewalk cafes. Most of the streets are cobblestone so I kept reminding the ladies to “watch where you’re walking.” They did!

We found Hotel-Dieu des Hospices Civils,  bought tickets and went inside.  The first thing that impresses you is the construction of the building.  It is beautiful architecture and materials.  The roof is yellow with black and red checker board. The interior is also beautiful. There are wards with beds all made up with white sheets and red blankets, stacked head to toe for the patients and a visitor's chair by each bed.  The hospital was built for the poor.  Nurses were from the local convent who cared for the sick, fed them and provided a place for them to recover.

Recreated medieval kitchen

We walked around window shopping and for lunch settled on Le Cafe Carnot - Cafe - Brasserie - Pizzeria. MA and Nola read every item on the menu, settling on individual pizza's which turned out to be enough for two!  I had the usual: salad, ground beef and french fries. The French really know how to do fries!

What's for lunch?
Drive back to Lyon was uneventful except for one Houston-like traffic jam caused by construction sites - we felt right at home!

Packed for the Saturday train ride (4 hours) to Nice. I wrote most of this blog on the train.  We picked up our rental car (upgraded to a Mercedes, don't know how that happened!) Drove the 30 minutes from Nice to Vence which is our base of "operations" for everything else we'll be doing.

It's now Sunday morning, woke up to a serious rain storm which has since subsided and cooled off the temperature at least for today.  One our way out to find a Super Marker and later will hook up with our friends Michel and Chantal.  Later (A bientot!)