I rather enjoy rainy days when I am at home and can stay inside. I like to hang out in my pajamas, read a book, listen to the drips and drops…but when you are on vacation a rainy day can be a disappointment. You are usually planning to be out sightseeing rather than snuggled in. You have limited time and lots to see. Rain can make it difficult.
However, into every perfectly planned vacation a little rain must fall and when it does – you figure out ways to make the best of it!
We woke to a rainy and chilly day in the pretty, prosperous, and very wine-centric Burgundian town of Beaune.
(Spoiler: Shhhhh, we mostly spent the day eating and drinking!)
First we spent a couple of hours in the lovely breakfast room of our accommodations, Les Jardins de Lois. They have a inviting dining area and provide a delicious breakfast. We began to talk with another American couple who were staying there and whiled away a couple of hours with warm coffee and warm conversation.
After breakfast the rain had not abated so our next stop was Hospices de Beaune. Rain or shine this place is a must see on any visit to the area. It is a hospital that was started by a wealthy couple in the mid-1400’s to serve the poor of Beaune and environs. It remained a hospital until the 1970’s! It is a fascinating place in both its architecture and artifacts. The courtyard is stunning with its colorful glazed roof tiles and I particularly enjoyed seeing the large hospital room and beds. The old medical equipment was both frightening and fascinating.
I definitely recommend renting the headphones which allow you to listen to the story of the hospital as told by actors who play the husband and wife who opened it. There were a few cheesy moments but it was mostly well done and interesting and gave you a great feel for the medical care and culture during that time period.
This hospital is also known as the wine hospital because it has been endowed with multiple vineyards over the years. It started receiving gifts of vineyards not long after it opened and this continued for 5 centuries. They now own a vineyard of 60 hectares which they entrust to around 22 winemakers. Every year in November they host the most famous wine charity auction in the world.
I really enjoyed our visit here. Most of the site was indoors except for the lovely courtyard. Don’t let the blue sky in some of the photos fool you! The rain let up for about 15 minutes and we rushed out to take photos and then it started pouring down again.
After visiting the hospice we had a nice and leisurely lunch. I must mention that croque-monsieur and beef bourguignon are the perfect cold and rainy French vacation day dishes!
Sadly, after lunch the rain was coming down harder than ever.
Beaune is all about wine, but for us to go from wine store to wine store would mean a lot of time in the bad weather. We checked our guide book and found the Patriarche Pere et Fils wine cellars. Miles of underground cellars. Wine to taste. A self-guided tour. What could be better for a rainy day? Patriarche it was!
We paid the fairly pricy entrance fee, were handed a tasting cup, and sent on our way. You could seriously get lost in those cellars! They were huge and full of wines, some just in the open and some dated and under lock and key. Barrels and bottles and dust and tunnels and barely lit rooms. Unbelievable!
After walking a while through the cellars, we entered the first of the tasting rooms.There was a host/sommeliere handy to answer any questions, but basically you were on your own. You poured and tasted and discussed and ditched what you didn’t like and poured more of what you did. There were 10 wines in all to try and they went from lightest to heaviest through several of the dimly lit, underground rooms. There was always someone available for questions, but they were very low-key. No high pressure sales job here!
As you went through the rooms the visitors became ever more convivial. We spent a lot of time talking with a young couple who had their toddler with them. They were from London and would come to France at least once a year to bring wine back home with them. We enjoyed visiting with them!
We didn’t find any amazing wines. Some were not good at all while others were quite decent, but nothing to write home about. I know that Patriarche has some very good wines because I’ve read about them, but I doubt if they give the best of the best to the people traipsing through their wine cellars with a metal cup in their hands!
Still, it was a really fun and recommended experience for all but the most connoisseur-ish of wine connoisseurs.
We emerged from the cellars, laughing and a little tipsy and blinking at the unexpected light from the finally clearing late afternoon skies.
We arrived back at our Bed and Breakfast to find our host Philippe asking if we would like to do a tasting of his wines from his personal vineyards in the wine cellar on the property. More cellars with more wine? Of course our answer was yes! We even bought a case of Philippe’s wine to have shipped back to our house.
After our second wine tasting of the day a nap was in order followed by a late and hearty dinner in, of course, a restaurant located in a converted wine cellar!
Ancient hospitals, food and wine and food and wine. Pretty much the perfect rainy day in Beaune!
More information about the places we ate while in Beaune coming soon! Here is a post about a non-rainy day activity in Beaune!
Thanks so much for stopping by!
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