Monday, July 9, 2012

24 Hours

Mr. Oil and I were given a precious gift the other weekend - 24 hours, child-free.  What should we do? Where should we go?

Eager both to explore more of France and to go somewhere that would be less enjoyable with Baby Oil, we headed to Beaune.  This lovely town in the heart of Burgundy is surrounded by beautiful vineyards (okay, so is half of France) and is home to amazing wine and food.  You've heard of "boeuf bourguignon", right?  Well, the "bourguignon" part indicates that it's a regional dish of Bourgogne, or Burgundy.  Mostly, they are super into cooking with wine - and really, shouldn't we all embrace this?  In addition to beouf bourguignon, other Bourgogne specialties include coq au vin and oeufs meurette (think poached eggs in the same kind of wine sauce as the boeuf bourguignon).  Lots of escargots around too.

Restaurants in Beaune also like to boast enormous wine lists.  Faced with this monster at dinner, what to do?

Naturally, we proceeded to order the third-cheapest half bottle they offered.  Would have gone second-cheapest, but Mr. Oil liked the name Monthelie. Which it turns out is one of the numerous wine appellations in the Cote de Beaune area.  In any event, the third-cheapest wine was delicious. Also during this meal, we began an activity that would continue throughout the weekend.  Every time we saw a parent or parents with a child of any age, we would look at each other and say, "Suckers!"  And celebrate our obvious superiority for having managed to come to Beaune on our own.  There were a lot of babies and kids around, so we got to say, "Suckers!" a lot.  It was awesome.

I had decided that to make the most of our child-free trip, we should stay in a hotel that we would NEVER, EVER stay in with Baby Oil.  One 12-century-abbey complete with steep, treacherous, winding staircases, coming up!  The abbey hotel was amazing, and not only because the air conditioning was really strong. Somehow it retained that 12th century charm but with all the trappings of a luxury hotel.  And we didn't have to worry about a cot, and being quiet, and having enough pacifiers.
Lobby of the hotel

No trip to Beaune is complete without a visit to the Hotel-Dieu, a 15th century hospital dedicated largely to serving and healing the poor.  In addition to being a fascinating view of the concept of charity and philanthropy from six hundred years ago, it happens to be a stunning building as well. The audio guide also gets points - instead of an authoritative professor-ish voice, you are treated to a "dialogue" between Nicolas Rolin, the founder and benefactor of the Hotel Dieu, and his wife Guigone.  It's actually still not that interesting, but I got a few good chuckles out of the fairly lame lines.  More importantly, I actually got to listen to the audio guide, and I didn't have to share it with a toddler who thinks everything is a phone!

Other than the Hotel Dieu, the activity in Beaune is wine-tasting. No explanation needed about why this is better sans-baby.  Having a better sense now of this sleepy town full of food and wine, you may understand why I love the fact that one of our only French friends (husband of an American friend, but whatever, he's totally French) went to Beaune for his bachelor party.  I'm sure some French guys go wild and crazy, but I love to imagine that all French bachelor parties involve refined cuisine and excellent wines, whereas American boys go to Vegas and watch strippers.