Beaune is the capital of Burgundy's wine county, with walled fortifications, shops, restaurants, cafes and markets for the hordes of tourists who come to savor medieval atmosphere and sample wines from the region's world class vineyards.
Our bus day was very short, we were in Beaune for lunch. William was kind enough to provide a short walking tour so that we knew where the two main squares were. Based on William's recommendation, we ate at Le Gourmandin restaurant. It was pouring rain out and so nice to eat inside and have a warm homemade creamy vegetable soup. And of course I had to try the Burgundy style escargot. These snails were huge and stuffed in the shells with the classic green garlic sauce. Awesome!
More wine anyone?...Thankfully we had Ted and Ann to help us choose our afternoon burgundy wine and help order our food. I mostly just point at the menu. I can usually figure out the simple menu items, but so not good at pronouncing them to the waitress. In my head it sounds so beautiful.
Beaune is circled by fortified walls, built in the 13th and 14th centuries, and while the town has now expanded far beyond this military corset, the most interesting lies within. The above is a model of the walled city.
The Hotel-Dieu of the Hospices du Beanue
The multicolored roofs of the Hotel-Dieu have become one of the symbols of Beaune. From the middle ages, it was built to house the sick and starving residents of the town. Now a museum, this architerural jewel holds some 5,000 items, among which the most famous being the polyptych of The Last Judgement.
We had another wonderful group meal, but this time at the Caveau des Arches. This place was like walking into a limestone cave. A very unique restaurant, our meals are getting better and better. William selected some of the specialties that we probably would not choose on our own. To start we had the "Jambon Persillé” (jellied ham with parsley) served with a light cream and a side spring salad. We then had the “œufs en meurette” (poached eggs in red wine sauce) served with roasted country bread. We are not done yet - next was roast chicken with a veal sauce and fresh pasta. Yes...we should be full, but there is still pistachio ice cream!
I liked it when we got William to tell us the best wines to pair with our meal. Even though William doesn't eat meat or drink, I was never disappointed with his selection of food or wine. I love France. I now tell people that my favorite food is French and they always ask what that is. Hard to explain, but it's made with love!
Laundry time! I have gone as long as I can. It is critical that we find a laundry mat and do a couple of loads. William could have just pointed to a map and told us where to go, but he actually walked me there and showed me how to run the machines. There isn't an English version of the instructions, so it's the small things like this that make such a difference. First you go to the vending machine and select soap and drop the coins, then put the soup in the machine, select your machine number and put your coins in. I thought it would take forever to do two loads, but the dryers are very hot. Done in no time! And what an experience! There is something great about hanging out with the locals and just observing.
Market day in Beaune was one of my favorite things we did. William asked some of us to buy items at the market for our picnic at Chateau Rully later in the afternoon. We were split into groups so that we covered all the bases. I was to get dessert, so I found chocolate covered citrus - something refreshing. The market was full of breads, cheeses, meats, fruit, vegetables, flowers, clothes, honey, jams, soap and much more. It was so fun! This was one of my favoriate meals of the trip. It was so fresh and of course William and Julie supplied the wine. Some new things I tried were fresh figs, dried meat with hazel nuts in it and some stinky cheeses.
We visited Chateau Rully and Countess Bridgitte was kind of enough to show us the kitchen and main rooms of the keep. We had a very nice wine tasting and Bridgitte served us 'gougeres' or what I call, cheese puffs. They are to cleanse the pallet, but they were so warm and tasty. Bridgitte was full of spunk. She told us of her family history and about the different wines we tasted. Sometimes she got so excited that I think she was speaking French, but with her wild actions you could easily follow along.
The Countess and her home were both so charming.
Our Last Night in Beaune Ted, Ann, April, Mom and I spent the evening together at Brasserie le Belena having a really good meal and just enjoying each others company.
I tried the most popular dish, Boeuf Bougiuignon, which is a beef stew simmered in a red wine sauce. It was really good and I think would be easy to make at home. And of course for dessert I couldn't not have chocolate lava cake.
I have learned so much about wine from Ted, Ann and April. They live in wine county in Seattle and Portland and have so much knowledge on the subject. Ted is even taking classes and taught us some of the techniques for tasting the wine. I like to let them take the lead in ordering our bottles. I only know whether I want red or white.