Friday, February 19, 2010

Day 2 Out in the Burgundy Countryside

The adorable French city of Beaune hosted us our last night in Burgundy. We woke bright and early to brisk temperatures but a blue sky. Yeah! And made our way to the Hotel Dieu. It was a special treat for me to see and take in this breathtaking hospital. Probably not too many health administrators back in these days, but man oh man it would be a gorgeous place to work. Don't see too many clinics like these today!This medieval charity hospital is now a museum. The Hundred Years' War and the plague called the Black Death devastated Beaune, leaving three-quarters of its population destitute. Nicholas Rolin, chancellor of Burgundy, had to do something for his people. So, in 1443, Rolin paid to build this hospital.The inner courtyard rooftop is dazzling. The colorful glazed tile roof established what became a style recognized in France as typically "Burgundian."I was particularly moved by the prints of antique art featuring compassionate scenes of nursing. What an incredible and admirable calling.This was the Paupers' Ward, the grandest room for the poorest patients. It is hard to imagine this as a place of suffering but it surely was.A screen separated the chapel from the ward.The smaller St. Hugue Ward was established for wealthy patients. They had better ceiling art to inspire their recovery.This was the maternity ward, now lined with tapestries.It is an odd feeling in a museum-hospital from the fifteenth century that I would so miss my work in healthcare. I chose it as my career because of the community surrounding the profession day in and out. I could picture the doctors, nurses, and others bustling around this place all working together to heal and comfort. The essence is still the same in modern hospitals and clinics - even if the paperwork is more.From Beaune we traveled to Chateauneuf-en-Auxois, an idyllic hilltop locale - and one notably identified as one of the prettiest villages in France. We saw the sign to prove it! With the castle it reminded us a lot of a miniature Carcassonne.This green, verdant grass is how I will always think of Burgundy. There were miles and miles of it everywhere we went. To bad it was cold or else we would have gotten out and rolled!We drove through more cute towns of Flavigny (where the movie Chocolat was filmed), Alise, and Semur before winding our way to Fontenay Abbey. Last but not least we toodled over to the town of Vezelay and the Basilica of Ste. Madeleine. It wasn't til we were there and saw "her" decayed finger (supposedly) in the crypt that we put together that this Madeleine is Mary Magdalene.
Burgundy was a special treat for our family. We had no expectations, yet our stay was full and fascinating. In a perfect world we would have had more time to take these sites at a slightly slower pace, but they just stacked right up on us and I am thankful we didn't miss anything. Another note though about this region; it is known for having adorable gites or small homes to rent. We kinda planned our trip on a whim so stayed in the generic, budget Ibis hotels. But it would be perfection to check into a small hilltop country home to drink in all Burgundy has to offer.

Click here for full album photos of our Burgundy Road Trip

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