Sunday, April 20, 2014

France: Day 3

We kicked off Day 3 by hopping in the car and headed out of the Loire Valley and on to Burgundy. We spent a good bit of the morning on the road, but we passed some beautiful landscape. Much of the French countryside in this region is covered in fields and rolling hills.

A little French countryside

Great views of little French villages.
And cheesy though it may be...we couldn't have gotten across all that countryside without our little friend...which, after two trips with our families (5 travelers total) felt quite spacious with only two people and our luggage!

The ride.
We arrived in Beaune around lunch time and decided to check into our hotel, Les Jardins de Lois. This hotel was definitely our splurge hotel, and it was worth every penny. During the winter, the hotel prices are usually significantly lower because it is considered off season. So while it was a splurge in comparison to some of our other hotels, it wasn't terribly expensive...but it was terribly nice.

We were greeted by this little guy, who we decided to call "'stache kitty" because of his little "Hitler-esque" mustache. We checked in, put our bags in our room and immediately took off on the hunt for lunch. We had lunch at a great little cafe just across the street from the Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune.

The Hôtel-Dieu was once a major hospital in Beaune. The roof itself is quite the sight. Done in the Burgundian style of tiling the roof with multi-colored glazes tiles to make a sort of mosaic, it certainly stands as the focal point of the facade. For me, having a degree in art history, I found that the most captivating part of the Hôtel-Dieu was the art gallery where they held the Polyptych of the Last Judgement by Rogier van der Weyden. We, of course, were not allowed to take photographs. But I can tell you that it was quote a special experience. The piece is absolutely beautiful and in excellent condition. 

Inside the courtyard of the Hôtel-Dieu.

The tiled roof of the Hôtel-Dieu.
After touring the Hôtel-Dieu, we spent a few hours walking around Beaune and exploring. We were there on a Monday, which is a very quite day in Beaune. Many of the stores and restaurants were closed, but it was very nice. It seemed like Adam and I had the whole city to ourselves. We returned to the hotel after our tour to freshen up and then head downstairs for a wine tasting in the hotel cellar.

The door to the is obviously fiercely guarded...

A photo of our hotel. I LOVED the copper drains!
The owners of Les Jardins de Lois also over many vines in Beaune and produce their own wine. As part of your stay, you can make a reservation to meet the owners and taste their wine in the hotel cellar. We jumped on this opportunity and were pleased that we were the only ones scheduled for a tasting at that time. The owner graciously spent about an hour with us teaching us about Burgundian wine.

One line of wine barrels lined up against the cellar wall.

One happy traveler!

The Sheehan's enjoying a tasting!

More photos of the hotel cellar. 

The owner of the hotel told us that at that moment they had 30,000 bottles of wine being stored in their cellar, in addition to the barrels of wine and the large stainless steel aging vessels. Adam and I were quite impressed until he informed us that that really wasn't a lot of wine...who knew?!

After the tasting we decided to get back out and walk around Beaune. We found a wonderful collection of antique shops (I am my father's daughter...). Though we saw SEVERAL pieces that we wanted to bring home, with no shipper lined up (as this was not a buying trip), we had to pass. We did come home with a new silver napkin ring to add to my very small collection. 

The cutest little collection of antique shops!

Once we finished our antiquing, we settled in at a little cafe for a glass of wine (or two...) and a few snacks before wandering to dinner.

Great little jug of Burgundian wine at a small cafe on the ring road.
We had dinner that night at Piqu'boeuf. Piqu'boeuf was recommended to us at our hotel and it did not disappoint. In Burgundy, beef is kind of the main attraction when it comes to dinner. We were told by the hotel owner that Piqu'boeuf had the best steak in town...and we couldn't pass that up!

They cook your potatoes in the fire in the middle of the restaurant. 
This was a big night for us...Adam decided to order escargot. I applaud him for being so determined to try the local cuisine when we were in France. He really didn't shy away from anything...and in every case, it was delicious!

First bite of escargot!
The food was wonderful and the atmosphere at Piqu'boeuf was really neat. It was relaxed and cozy with a roaring fire in the middle of the restaurant. We had a great meal and then headed back to the hotel to catch some sleep and prepare for day tasting!

No comments:

Post a Comment