Beaune

Trip Start Jun 10, 2007
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Trip End Ongoing


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Monday, August 20, 2007

Wine... Wine... Wine... More wine... Wine... Oh and we can't forget wine.
Beaune is the heart of the Burgundy wine region. Beaune's whole sense of purpose is all things wine. It is surrounded by vineyards, has a more than healthy supply of wine merchants, has one of only a few viticulture related secondary schools in the country to train the next generation of wine experts, and its old city is filled with wine caves and cellars that stretch for miles below its streets.
Upon our arrival, we of course had to see what the fuss was all about.
We went to the "Marche aux Vins". Here we had the opportunity to tour through the caves and cellars of the building and sample 13 of its finest wines along the way. Considering there are so many different wines to sample they have spitoons along the way.  We didn't want to make a mess of them so we sacrificed and drank all of our samples. We just wanted to help out a little.
The next morning (ok afternoon) we headed to the Hotel Dieu. It has a wonderful story. It was built in 1443 by the then Duke of Burgundy, Nicolas Rodin and his wife. In the wake of the 100 years war with poverty and famine affecting most of those living in Beaune, they decided to found this place as a hospice for the poor.
They put so much care and money into it, it was known as the "Palace for the Poor". Touring the place you would think that royalty lived there (see pictures and descriptions). Each room was breathtaking. Added to the fact that right up until 1971 countless sick were taken care of here by the Sisters of the Hospices de Beaune, it gave us goosebumps the whole way through. A truly wonderful story.
After such a good experience, we had to learn some more from this fabulous town. We had our own private wine tasting seminar to understand just what makes this region tick. It lasted about an hour and we couldn't believe just how much we learned. We are now officially wine snobs and will judge every sip in the future.
We had to then test out our new expertise so we went to the "Patriarche Pere & Fils". The largest cellars in all of Burgundy. This location has over 5km of caves and cellars with more than 4 million bottles of wine. Just one of many locations they have all over the city (well under the city). The cellars and caves in Beaune are compared to the Catacombs in Paris but lined with wine bottles instead of human bones. It felt like we were walking forever through the rows and rows of dusty bottles, some dating back to 1911!  Each of the tasting stations (we think about a dozen - again we didn't want to dirty the spitoons so we can't really remember how many exactly) were old wine barrels with a different wine on it uncorked and ready to sample. They also had incredibly knowledgeable attendants throughout the caves to answer any questions or give a brief history of the region and its pride and joy. We considered it all educational as we are just starting or tour of the
Burgundy and Alsace wine regions in France. We only want to be prepared you know...

Off to Dijon for a little mustard... and more wine of course.
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