October, 2016 – Chateau Home & Garden living with gourmet dining was left behind at the regal gates of the luxe Chateau de Gilly Hotel when we drove our rental car toward the city of Beaune, but the tires hardly hit the pavement of the main road when a beautiful castle on a hill above vines outstretched like golden chains beckoned us for a detour. We approached Aloxe-Corton where long-lived wines are produced. Voltaire revealed that he adored the Corton wine. In 1759 he wrote to his supplier of Corton saying: “The older I get, Sir, the more highly do I value your kindnesses. Your good wine is being a necessity to me…” I could say the same about my experiences in France. The older I get, the more highly I appreciate what I have seen and what I have had the good pleasure of storing in my memory as treasures. At least for a time, I can spin a story and tug the photos from my archive.
For this yarn which I am numbering part two of the Burgundy memory lane, my rambling words could easily become volumes more. Yet, a post card version without embellishment, or depth, is outlined in a rather point A to point B rendition of the second memory lane since my blog would explode otherwise. Truly, Burgundy is rich and ripe for enjoyment, so much so that it is a shame to rush through. But that was exactly what Jim and I shamelessly did.We gulped down the golden vista of the vineyards in the early morning light, like an expensive, rare wine. A chateau with peach- tinted walls, dappled with shadows and a roof like melted caramel was secluded behind locked gates, but my camera found its way without a security breach. We drank this beauty of colors mixed with history, fermenting our excitement for the remainder of our short adventure. We wanted to see more and more, but while that was impossible, there were two definite places on our list: Beaune and the Chateau de La Rochepot. Starting with Beaune, we simply wandered the narrow, old streets seeing many of the old places we enjoyed in the past like the carousel; but this time there was a new feature, a modern art sculpture of a dog splashed with bright colors.
I hunted for a mural that is found in the introduction of my book and finally found its soft colors on the wall, realizing that the small trees from the past had grown to large trees that almost hid the painting.
Jim noticed briefs in the window display with a lobster on the crotch. He said he felt uncomfortable just looking at them! Around the corner I saw the restaurant where I shared my table with a British couple when I was on my solo trip, and it was still very busy with a crowd of happy people. However, no red jaguar was parked in front like the one I admired years ago. We paid our admission to the Hospices de Beaune which seems rather forbidding from the outside, but inside there is a riot of color from the floor tiles to the glorious roof tiles. This was a charity hospital from the mid-15th century until 1971.
The beds line the walls, and mannequins of nuns are displayed throughout the hospital and kitchen. Some of the old medicine containers are beautiful, but I’m sure that I would not want the contents. Still when I think of the warnings on our modern medicine, maybe rose or orange alcohol treatment for any illness is not so bad after all.
We spent way more time in Beaune than what we had intended. Time just flies when we are exploring with just one more thing to see which reminds me that I must insert the photo from the kitchen at the Hospices de Beaune. Notice the goose-necked fixtures. Nothing like these at Kohler or American Standard! Just incredible! I knew we must drive south in the direction of our rental house so we could arrive there before dark on the next day. That ruled out seeing some of the villages we dreamed of seeing since they were further west and north. I didn’t arrange a hotel for the night since we didn’t know how far we would travel. Chateau de La Rochepot was still firmly on our list. We tried a few charming B&B’s with no success. Nolay, a little town with a 14th-century covered market was perfect for the night with a bit of history to see and a hotel in an old building with red geraniums welcoming us inside. Maybe we would have a nice night with no reservations after all.
We went inside the dark lobby and rang the bell, but no one came. We waited at the counter as Jim’s bladder was calling for attention with a bathroom in view down the hallway. We did what any over-the-hill couple would do and trekked to the bathroom in the dark as quickly as our senior legs would carry us. Unknown to us, the lady owner was coming down the stairway for a surprise meeting at the landing. She gasped like she never expected to see guests in the hotel. After we took care of the most important business at hand, we asked to see a room. We followed the owner around and under many artificial flower displays, perfectly suited for the stale air and matching the framed pictures suitable for a yard sale. Madam opened a door at the end of the narrow hallway to our potential room for the night. A large window faced the rear alley of the hotel with a flower box below and a view over the lower roof line to a few village houses. The bed was covered in a simple white bedspread with an old chair near the doorway. Fresh air filled the room from the open window. My eyes drifted to the bedside table with a bottle of water and a glass with something in it. For a startled moment I thought someone had left their false teeth in the glass of water, but it was more artificial flower decoration for the night stand. I really need to do something about my eyesight! The tiny bathroom seemed suitable with a clean shower. We wanted a cheap room to offset the cost of our previous night at the upscale chateau hotel. I love the charming places, but I knew Jim would not be happy driving the roads and hunting for my ideal inn. I shrugged my shoulders and agreed to stay, not knowing what would happen later.
The sun was signaling the end of the day, so I had to move fast with my camera to capture the old streets and houses including one for sale. I have spent many hours searching the internet, hoping to buy a house in France. Too many obstacles prevented that dream fulfillment, but I’m not unhappy. There is satisfaction in knowing that I’ve made the right decision for now. Jim and I walked the streets remembering when we had been there in years past, pointing to houses and places that were still the same. We had lunch years ago in a little place in a bend of the main road where trucks fly past at race car pace. We hoped they wouldn’t collide and take us along as cargo, or worse! People were still there, but we didn’t dine in the fast lane this time. We noticed folks in the boulangerie purchasing food for the evening, and suddenly ham quiche with lemon pastries looked very good.When we settled for the night in our inexpensive quarters with Jim in the easy-chair by the door, playing on his tablet, and me sitting cross-legged on the bed playing a movie from Netflix on my laptop, I detected a slight odor from the bathroom. The slight odor increased to septic tank-gone-mad when Jim opened the door. A plan was urgently devised that under no circumstances would the door be left open, and the window would be kept open at maximum width until we went to bed when I would likely dream about a stranger’s false teeth next to my water bottle. I decided that I really didn’t need a shower until we got home the next day. Oh, the pain one must go through to live the life of luxury for one night in a chateau!Next day with my limp hair lacking a shampoo, we left Hotel Le Pew and traveled to a beautiful location. Perched high on a hill is the 15th-century Chateau de La Rochepot. Speaking personally about the position of the chateau, I know it’s high on a hill because I walked to the top of the hill from the parking area only to discover that we couldn’t enter from that side. We went exactly in that direction years ago! No one sent a memo about the change of route. The wrong way often leads to views you would miss otherwise, and our discovery was a wide-range view of the village and distant hills, a pastoral panorama. Huffing and puffing, we found the correct way into the chateau that should not be missed. During the French Revolution the chateau was partially destroyed, but Colonel Sadi Carnot, the first son of the President of France, carefully restored the castle. A chapel, guards’ room, kitchen, living room and other rooms are open to tour. My favorite is the kitchen with its windows for the morning light on one side, and windows with views of the courtyard and its flowers on the other. A massive fireplace covers one wall and a wall of copper pans caused my heart to beat faster. Jim and I posed for a photo by the well which is incredibly 72 meters deep, dug through solid rock. Oh, yes, and the obvious attraction is the colorful, glazed roof tiles. It’s enough to ignite a passion for vivid colors on my Alabama-French cottage. Oh, Jim, I have an idea!
I hope you enjoyed the condensed version, like a Reader’s Digest edition of our exciting but short trip to Burgundy. Honestly, there is much more in the book “A French Opportunity”.
Thanks for coming around. Check later for more photos on Facebook. Perhaps we will visit Lake Geneva next time. Must check the agenda.
I enjoy reading your comments. Have you ever gone the wrong way to a spot and found something special? Life is the same, isn’t it? Take care!
Note: I have not included the name of the hotel since I truly do not want to reflect badly on the kind lady who was hospitable after she recovered from the surprise at the stairway. Yes, it was Jim that shocked her. Do I detect a trend? See “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” for another such incident and “Lavender and Stones”.