We began our first travel day in Burgundy just like we began our drive to Annecy – on the Autoroute. The French Autoroute system is very much like the U.S. highway system with two exceptions – the white roadside cows and the astronomical tolls. After driving by hoards of White Charolais cows dotting the roadside, we paid the €21 (about 28 dollars US – ouch!) toll bill at the exit for the city of Beaune.
We had resolved to save our appetites since we had a reservation for a three star Michelin dinner that evening. The problem with that strategy soon bit us as we walked through the quaint central town of the Cote D’or at midday, where we found everything closed for lunch except for restaurants. We could not control our curiosity or hunger, so we wandered, reservationless, into lunch at Ma Cuisine, located on the northern outskirts the city. Fortuitously, there was one available table for two.
Ma Cuisine generally serves local and Provençal food to a mixture of tourists and businesspeople in a convivial atmosphere that celebrates the wine of Bourgogne and elsewhere. Reservations are usually a must, so it was meant to be for us to have lunch there and then. Simple menu items such as house-made Pâté, Sardines and Duck Confit provided a simple yet hearty meal option upon our entrance to the Medieval wine town. Not to mention our desserts – Epoisses cheese and crème caramel.
And the wine? We enjoyed an excellent White Bourgogne Village from Joseph Faively that proved shockingly elegant for its pedigree. It was as if the Good Wine Witch of France was saying “Daryl and Mindi, you’re not in Pennsylvania anymore.”
After lunch we headed over to L’Hotel-Dieu to tour the centuries old hospice. Since there was a blue haired tour group entering the building, we detoured across the street to the Marche aux Vins in the former Cordelliers church. For €10 each, we were able to taste about ten local wines, plus liqueurs, out of tastevins as we ambled through the dark passages of the ancient building said to have been built in the 14th or 15th century.
After trying a solid selection of reds and whites, villages and crus, we toured L’Hotel-Dieu without the blue hairs. We stood in the courtyard, awed by the stunning colorful tiled roof. We then entered the hospice that was built for the poor in 1443 and were struck by the row of hospital beds where people lay sick or wounded as far back as the Hundred Year’s War and as recently as the late 20th century.
We learned that the local Sisters took care of the sick and dying patients for centuries. Religious art and artifacts still adorn the rows of red beds. In addition to checking out the sick ward where the destitute patients were treated during the Plague, we explored the chapel, the kitchen and the apothecary. We were impressed by the paintings and tapestries throughout the facility.
Once our afternoon in Beaune came to an end, we drove through vine-laced roads to our charming Bed and Breakfast in nearby Chaudenay. Then, after a quick check-in and showers, we were on our way to Chagny for a monumental meal at Maison Lameloise…