“Lost in France, the III”

We would be walking for hours.

The blister on the back of my wife’s heel was still open and oozing.

This might be a good day to address the problem we were having with our rented car.

As mentioned in a previous post, I could not get the car into reverse. This SNAFU was beginning to wear a little thin on my son and wife. They very much resented having to get out and push the car every time we needed to back up while I hid behind the drivers seat.

In any event, it was time to get it looked at because we’d still need a car for about 10 days. I called the rental company and they told me to bring it in. The nearest place was Beaune.

Beaune was spectacular,  it’s a walled town at the center of the Burgundy winemaking region in France. Surrounded by the Côte d’Or vineyards, the cobbled town is renowned for an annual wine auction held at the Hôtel-Dieu (Hospices de Beaune). Recognized by its colorful, geometric-patterned tile roof, this 15th-century former hospital is now the Hôtel-Dieu Museum, showcasing works like “The Last Judgement” altarpiece by Van der Weyden.

Our first order of business was to get the car issue sorted.

We got to the rental company and I told them again about the issue with the car.  I figured they would have to give me another rental, considering the major transmission issues I was having with the car they gave me. One of the employees came out with me as I explained my frustration at being given a lemon.

He got into the car to see for himself,  I admit that I had a smug look on my face waiting for him to confirm my diagnosis. This look faded quickly as he proceeded to put the car into reverse and do doughnuts all around the parking lot, glaring at me the whole time.

Apparently you have to push down on the gear shift when you put it in reverse. Talk about feeling like an idiot, I wanted to crawl under a rock. Freakin’ european cars.

Anyway, it was sorted, time to see Beaune!

We parked on one of the side streets, of which there were many, and made our way towards the wine cellars of Patriarche Père et Fils.

This place cannot accurately be described with words.

It has 5 kilometers of vaulted galleries dating back to the 13th century housing 2 million aging bottles. A magical, intense, out of time place… which perfectly outlines the marriage of wine and culture. The admission is 18 Euros a person but well worth it.

They have little stations set up throughout the cellars with open bottles of fine wines, candles aluminate each station.

They give you a small metal chalace which you get to keep. You’re free to sample all the bottles they have on display as you make your way through the ancient caves.

Don’t even think about driving when you finish the tour!

 Claustrophobia could be an issue for some but you don’t get the sense of being closed off because the caves are so enormous.

Our heads still spinning, literally, from the spectacular visit to the cave, we began to tour the city streets.

All of my romantic ideas about the beauty and charm of France came to fruition as we walked the streets of Beaune in the mid-day sun. It seemed like a relic from a past by gone era, unchanged and waiting all this time for us to discover her.

Gobsmacked, we found our way to the The Hospices de Beaune or Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune. It was founded in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin, chancellor of Burgundy, as a hospital for the poor. The original hospital building, the Hôtel-Dieu, one of the finest examples of fifteenth-century Burgundian architecture, is now a museum.

The buildings design was probably overseen by the Flemish architect Jacques Wiscrère and remained as a hospital until the late 1970s.

The Hôtel-Dieu, with its Gothic facades, its glazed roofs, covered with geometric figures in flamboyant colors, is part of the heritage of the Hospices de Beaune, a charitable institution created in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin, chancellor of the Duke of Burgundy and his wife Guigone from Salins.

Preserved in an exceptional state of conservation, this monument is a rare testimony of the civil architecture of the Middle Ages. Its rooms bring together a vast collection of objects, furniture and tapestries from this period. A stay in Burgundy cannot be conceived without a visit to the Hôtel-Dieu.

Our day was sadly coming to a close. We were all exhausted and tired. My wife bravely limped on as her blistered foot got worse from the unrelenting walking.

We made our way to the car, it was just around the corner.

But I was mistaken, it was just around “that” corner…..or was it that one?….panic was starting to sink in. Every car looked the same. We walked on for what seemed to be hours. It was like looking for a needle in the haystack.

I was completely and utterly lost. My wife was on the verge of tears now, I could sense her love for me slowly diminishing by each horrible corner I made us navigate onto, my own words still ringing in my ears “I think it’s this street”.

Then a miracle happened.

My son said he recognized a street sign, but I was sure he was delusional from the dehydration that was quickly setting in.

I brushed him off and said he had to be mistaken, I was sure we had already went down that street. But I too was losing my mind and could have been mistaken. Morally beaten, I proceeded to follow him as a foot soldier would in the throws of an ongoing battle.

And there it was, calling out to us first, as my son pressed the “panic” button on the car key. Shimmering like a gold nugget in a stream of identical Fiats, I wanted to kiss the beast.

My son had found the car, and I’m sure, saved our lives. At least that’s how I felt at the time. It was worth all the sleepless nights we had when he was a baby, the money we spent on his education, the snide remarks he still gives us to this day. My return on the investment had finally come in, he had paid us back…. in full!

We got back to our AirBnB around midnight. A bottle of wine we bought from Patriarche helped to calm us down. My wife soaked her blistered foot and then I did something that in hindsight was not the smartest thing to do.

We had no band-aids for her blister, except for one, the one around my index finger from when I cut my finger on the cork screw…..hmmmm I thought.

Stay tuned for the next instalment as we’ll be visiting Semur en Auxois, Flavigny sur Ozerain, and a doctors office.

TIP* I was always forgetting the details of the trips we had made. Now I carry a really nice travel journal like this one. Im able to keep track of our adventures in a beautiful way. A great investment for under $20 and great way to preserve your memories!

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