Paris elevators are small. For two Americans visiting from San Francisco they appear ridiculously small. Three people with carry-on luggage is often the max. But we managed to get the bags upstairs to my room and headed out for a quick breakfast before departing with the train later that morning for Dijon. It was wonderful to see my godson (Matt) and his wife Jenn again, I had arrived the night before with the evening Thalys from Amsterdam and we were anxious to begin our journey.
Lili was already in the country for her ceramic course near Langres and she would be driving to Dijon to meet us and our carefully planned, weeklong French adventure would finally begin. The plan was simple: to indulge ourselves with delicious food, wonderful wine, beautiful architecture and inspiring art spread between two wine regions (Burgundy and The Loire valley) and three cities, Beaune, Lyon and Amboise.
Rogier van der Weyden
For Lili and I, Beaune is synonymous with The Hospices de Beaune or Hotêl-Dieu de Beaune, a former charitable almshouse founded in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin as a hospital for the poor. The wooden building is remarkably well preserved and houses a remarkable piece of art: ‘The Last Judgement’ a 15th century masterpiece by Rogier van der Weyden. It consists of nine painted oaken panels of which six can be closed revealing six more paintings on the reverse. An amazing structure which moves a large magnifying glass horizontally and vertically across the surface using a remote control allows the viewer to study and marvel at the paintings incredible details.
We all pretty much agreed that our first airbnb just outside Beaune was the nicest. Rolling farmlands filled with grazing cattle, a restored farmhouse with all modern conveniences. We had two excellent meals accompanied by an superb local Burgundy at a small hotel in the nearby town of Couches and our first evening was made complete when we lost our way back home after dinner and had a near collision with a marauding herd of wild boars.