Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Beaune to Shop
I wept when I first saw the vines.
Now then, it's possible I wept because I'd flown for ten hours to get from SFO to CDG, retrieved a rental car from Terminal 2 after arriving at Terminal E, managed the peripherique and then sped breezily along the A6 at 140kph until I got off at Beaune Centre, in the heart of Burgundy. Maybe anyone would have wept...from sheer exhaustion.
But the vines have always touched my soul. The day has been hazy but spring-like. The fields are yellowy green and the vines are still dormant. Once you've taken the ticket to enter the A6, the drive south is a breeze. Here and there the soil was tilled a warm red brown; not deep and dark like in California. Off to my left over a crest I'd see a castle or a chateau or a medieval village, little changed to date.
I did not make a hotel reservation before arriving, not knowing exactly where I would want to spend the night. Alas, this is a country of traditions and so I stuck with mine -- when driving south, overnight at the Hotel de la Poste in Beaune. When driving north, overnight at the Hotel de le Cloche in Dijon. I could have booked this hotel in advance for 130euros but I thought that was over-priced and sheesh, on a Wednesday night in the middle of March, I could just waltz in and pay 100 euros.
Ha. One room left. 160 euros please. Merde.
I was too tired (and too weepy) to go elsewhere. Besides, I had already done an online search on prices at the other two hotels I like in Beaune (Cypre and Cep -- these are two different places) and both were higher than the de la Poste.
So my room is very sweet -- small but intime with gorgeous furniture and a deep bath tub. There is an ecologically proper soap dispenser on the wall of the tub/douche. This may be green and may in fact save the earth, but there are few amenities in the bathroom and none to 'steal'. It's also very hard to squeeze and wash at the same time.
I took a fast shower as soon as I arrived. After all that travel I was feeling more French than is ever proper. There was no shower cap in the bathroom but when I stepped under the hand-held I remembered:
A) it's hand held, you can avoid getting your hair wet rather simply ... and
B) even when attached to its post, the pommeau du douche is still way too low to ever get my hair wet. French people are much shorter than I am.
Town is as charming as ever, although there are a lot of empty storefronts; Recession has obviously come to even the cute towns of France. Real estate prices don't seem to be too affected. Cute little cottages, far cuter than my house in Provence, begin around 300,000 euros -- almsot twice the price of my house. I guess this is the zip code to own in.
Certainly it's the place to drink. The wine shops do not seem to be hurting from Recession and the town center is crawling with tourists (mostly British) buying up burgundies. Me? I'm just brushing up on my French. I have to have mis-translated when I saw the sign for a vineyard that appeared to be named Patricide (see above).This wine from Solvang, California -- OK, that's clever. But here? I must be very tired.