France – Jour 9 – Part 1

This morning, before our ride, we visited the Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune, which was a hospice built by Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy in the fifteenth century for the poor and needy.  It’s quite an amazing building – and the people of Burgundy are very proud of it and consider it to be the most significant building in their area.

This huge room, which looks like a chapel – was actually the main room for the hospice.  It did have a chapel at the end, but the main area had sick beds along either side of the room.

The beds look a little first class – with privacy curtains!  And the pharmacy was certainly well-stocked.

And it looks like the sick people got fed well – with this huge kitchen ready to cook up healing dishes!

It was a lovely building to visit, and you can see from the roof, the classic tiling – very characteristic of the area.  We  were allowed about an hour at the Hospice and it was plenty of time to see everything.   Then, it was time to mount our steeds and get on the road.

Thankfully, despite rain being forecast, it had held off a bit and we were able to set off.  You know – you never want to be the slowest one in a group – but according to the guides, this is a very strong group of riders – so guess who tends to be the little caboose bringing up the rear??

By the time we got to the bottom of the first hill – I had spent all my mojo and elected to get in the van with the lovely Vincent.

Riding in the van with the baguettes

All the other riders headed for the top of the first rise – here are some photos of their valiant efforts!

Clockwise from top left: Kristen, Lynn, Mary, Lisa and of course… Andrew

At the top of the hill was a cooperage – a barrel factory – it was amazing to watch the barrels come together.  There is a mechanical ring on the bottom which squeezes all the wood together at the bottom of the barrel.

After we watched the barrel making for awhile, it was time to hit the road again.  There was another hill coming up – a bit steeper than the last one – so I jumped back in the van… but this time I had some company with a couple of other riders (who shall remain nameless… Steph & Mary) who had also spent their mojo!

There they go…

The next quick stop was so we could appreciate this wonderful view…

The village of Saint Romain

Hmmm…. the view this way looks a bit foreboding… do you see that sky?

Everyone’s looking at the view!

And then…  Down it poured

And then the rain came down!!!  It was sheeting down… all the riders had to shelter closely together under the van’s back door!

Oooh la la!  Thankfully the rain cleared quite quickly – and the strong riders got back on their bikes.  The next stage was some challenging “rolling” hills – with it being so wet, and apparently a steep descent ahead – once again, us three riders elected to stay in the van and move ahead to our lunch stop.  On the way we stopped to view the chateau at La Rochepot for a photo opportunity.

Chateau at La Rochepot

And then we continued on to the winery at Chassagne-Montrachet where we were having lunch so that we could set up for all the hard working riders.  Lunch was in this amazing cellar – which often served as a function space (apparently they had a wedding in there in the morning – even though it was a Monday!).

Voila – Lunch is served!

Once again, Duvine went over and above in providing us with a glorious lunch spread.  Look at all this delicious food – some of it prepared by moi!   Everyone was in good spirits after finishing such a challenging ride.

The Canadian Cohort: Debra, Rob, Kristen and Barry

The muddy streets took their toll… Rooster Tails!

There’s only one way to fix this… beer!

Our lovely host from Chateau Chassagne-Montrachet – talking to Mary & June

Our host at the winery gave us a lovely tour of the cellar, and was really informative about wines and how they differentiated across their plots.

She took us to see all their cellars – even one from the 14th century!  I love that the bands are different colours on the barrels.  Apparently this is the cooper’s (barrel maker’s) way of marking the different years – each year gets a different colour.

This is the motorcycle that Mr. Michel Picard started his business on all those years ago – he has kept it so he can remember how far he has come.

I never knew this before, but each barrel is toasted to provide particular flavour characteristics to wine.  This barrel shows the variety of toasting – you choose what level of toasting you want, which comes as light, medium, medium plus and heavy.  However, a winery can usually work with the cooperage if they want something special as well.

We did a wine tasting here – and our host was really lovely and quite animated when it came to explaining the different wines, the aromas of each one.   She was so cute!!

Now, I don’t know if it was all the wine I drank at lunch, or all the wine at the tasting – but you’ll be happy to know I mounted my steed for the next section of riding – we were pretty much repeating what we had done the day before, so I could obviously manage that.

And so we cycled our way back to the hotel – although we did have to turn around at one stage because there was a puddle so big on the ground that there was no way we could continue on that particular road.  Not to worry – we turned away, made a slight detour, and continued our journey.  Here are the vital statistics for the day…

Vital statistics:   Distance:  42.68 km     Elevation Gain: 666 metres

The legend is as follows:  Red Star – where I hopped in the van;   Green Star – where I rejoined the ride after lunch.  Andrew, of course, did the whole route!  Alas – I did 18km less than Andrew… ah well.  France is here to enjoy, and not to endure!!  And 25km isn’t too bad!

Phew… made it home.  It was good to relax a bit before heading out to dinner.  Tonight was our own choice – so naturally we asked where the best steak frites were…!  Stay tuned for the dinner post – coming up next.