I had a great sleep for the first night on the cruise! We headed back north over night so that by morning we were sitting outside of a town called Chalon-sur-Saone. It is a cute little town in Burgundy. It was slightly chilly this morning, but I was all excited to wear skirts and dresses, so I just plowed ahead. We took a bus right after getting off the boat to the town of Beaune. It was kind of sad to not have a chance to see Chalon-sur-Saone at all, but I guess that is how it goes.
We had a great guide for our day today. She was born and raised in California and came to study in France at age 24 and never left. She does tours for wineries and city tours and was excellent.
We started off in Beaune walking around the town, through the ramparts, around the market. Lots of great old stone and brick buildings everywhere. The highlight was Hotel Dieu/Hospices de Beaune. This hospital for the sick and poor was built by Nicolas Rolin and his wife Guigone de Salins in 1443. The hospital was used as such until 1971, which is really crazy to think. It is beautiful and quite more modern than I was expecting, but it is crazy to think that a medical structure could have been built so long ago and maintained for so many years.
Part of the building is still in use today as a senior’s residence. It is only the actual hospital part that has been turned into the museum.
The roof is the most spectacular thing about the building. It is completed in bright yellow and green tile mosaic. Interestingly enough, the facade of the building is done in plain slate so that people from the street wouldn’t know how rich the hospital was. At the time and over the years they became quite rich because people would give them large gifts of vineyards and other expensive things in attempt to “buy their way” into heaven. Because of all the wealth that the Hospice still maintains today, there is a huge charity wine auction that is held here each year where you can buy barrels of the best Burgandy wines.
The town is built right over a river, so that was really interesting as well. The hospital was built where it was because of the ease of cleaning (into the water) and the access to water. There is actually a spot where you can see the river running clear under the stone floor.
After the tour we had a couple of hours to visit the rest of the town and eat lunch. We did a bit of shopping (I bought a shirt and a sweater and some leggings because I was cold!) and found a nice park bench to eat lunch. It was a perfect morning.
In the afternoon we visited the town of Tournus where we visited an old church. It had a fantastic organ and we were able to climb the narrow stairs up to the top to see the organ billows and the old wooden stairs leading to the church bells.
We sailed early this evening, which was nice as we had time to enjoy our happy hour and our amazing rooms. The windows go down to ½ way – like a balcony – so it is fun to relax in the rooms as well.