Monday, May 11, 2009

One Beaune Day

I maybe wouldnt have even mentioned this if it hadn't happened that when I had lunch with my friend Dottie last week, she told me that she and her husband were soon leaving for France and, by coincidence, had the exact same arrival and car rental plan as me. Thinking that great minds might think alike, I am starting off with the way we were.

With two dogs, two valises, two duffles and countless tote bags, Sarah Lahey (Editorial Director of Born to Shop) and I decided that going into Paris and then taking the train south to my house in Provence was simply too much schlepping. Sarah went online and found a wonderful car rental deal with Kemwell; I took lotsa Stilnox on the plane (having just read that Bill Buckley liked several a night, I figured what the hell) and was rested enough to drive.

The rental companies at CDG bring the car right to you, about 30 minutes after you check in at their desk. We went for breakfast and were soon driving toward Paris and the Ring Road and to the A6. Our goal was to get to Beaune for the first night, since it is a 7-8 hour drive to my house in Provence and even with some sleep on the plane, I did not want to go that far.

Having been to Beaune several times before, I knew what hotel to book (I always stay at Hotel de la Poste) and we got a fabulous room on the top floor with exposed beams and two beds and a little terrace. Sarah booked it through 145 euros. Doggy guests cost an additional 10 euros per tail.

There are two 4-star hotels built into the ring road that encircles Beaune and allow you to walk to all the sights in town-- the other is the Hotel de le Cedre. Driving in Beaune is not complicated, it's just frustrating since everything is one way.

While the most well-known landmark is Les Hospice, this building was closed by the time we arrived. We had to search for a viewing point on the street just to peek at the famous multi-colored tile rooftops. It was a brilliant spring afternoon and strolling was a pleasure. There are a number of food, cheese, mustard and wine shops. After all, you are in the heart of Burgundy and only a half hour from Dijon. The boutiques are more fashionable than ever before, there's even a Farrow & Ball paint store! No Chanel, however.

Perhaps the most striking thing about our visit was the extraordinary town plantings. We're not talking about geraniums or petunias here; not even pansies. Entire beds of wild flowers form a type of English garden in all public squares and traffic circles. All the local real estate magazines seem to show affordable housing and Beaune was picture perfect.

With jet-lag eating us alive, we went for an early dinner (20 euro special, 3 courses-- snails from Burgundy, Beouf Bourgignon, dessert of choice) at a cute bistro down the street in the heart of The Cute then fell into bed. We fell asleep quickly, listening to CNN and waiting for news about the missing child Madeleine...who is still missing.

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