Saturday 21 April 2012

Give a dog a

Beaune: yet another absurdly pretty French town... except this one is the last, sniff. We got into Chalon sur Saone early this morning and were bussed to Beaune to look at the very lovely and wholly unusual Hotel de Dieu, a hospital for the poor set up in 1443 by a businessman looking to score enough credits to guarantee an entry into Heaven. It's such a striking building, with its glazed roof tiles, turrets, gables and gargoyles, and there's some really interesting stuff inside, too - though the medical instruments are a bit horrifying, especially the eye-watering one designed to be sat on.

It was market day, so that was colourful, despite the showers, and then my Kiwi colleagues left to start their long, long journey home while I just wandered the narrow cobbled lanes gawping at the uniformly old and un-uniformly designed buildings. Many of the other River Royale passengers disappeared into the town's cellars for wine tastings, but it was enough for me to be driven afterwards along the Route des Grands Crus where even I recognised the names of the villages, like Meursault and Montrachet.

Back in Chalon there was a little war museum to visit with some sobering photos of the town during the occupation, and of the battlefields, as well as an interesting Resistance section with an instruction manual open at the page showing how to blow up a railway line. And then it was time to go and pack, ready for my early departure tomorrow morning, out in the wide world on my own, finding my way to Paris and then London by train. Along lines that haven't been booby-trapped, hopefully.

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