Friday, September 17, 2010

Mid-week moving day

Wednesday was moving day, from our beautiful little village house to the apartment in Beaune, about 15 minutes away.  Why, do you ask (and rightfully so), would we move from one to the other, especially when we liked the little house?  Because we had no choice, alas; the house was booked later in the week, and the apartment was booked earlier in the week.

But we didn't have to vacate the house until late in the afternoon, so we did a bit of house-keeping in the morning.  Beaune has a market day on Wednesday and we needed to restock on fruit, cheese, etc., so off we went with a straw bag in hand to market, to market.

Valyn has used quite a bit of her bad French on this trip, and generally she's understood.  She's sure her accent is just awful but she knows enough to make dinner reservations, buy stuff and deal with the unexpected (more or less!).  We carry two small dictionaries, one for food and one for general terms.

We have been surprised by how many locals here do not speak French, especially in the restaurants.  After all, we're in Burgundy, probably the most heavily touristed area in France after Paris.

Anyway, after the market and a picnic lunch, we went to the Citeaux Abbey, the site of the original Cistercian abbey (also known as Trappists) who split off from the Cluny order in 1098.  A contingent of Cluny monks felt the Cluny order was way too fat and happy, and longed for a place to serve God without accumulating undue wealth.
Saint Bernard, who was the driving force behind the expansion of the Cistertians in the 11th and 12th centuries
We didn't fully understand beforehand that the abbey had been almost entirely rebuilt in the last hundred years (after being wiped out by unrest caused by the plague and the French Revolution), so there were only a few minor ruins that could be seen only with a guide (it's still a working abbey) and there were no English speaking guides available.  We were able to see the entirely modern but austere church (think cream paint and blond wood) built in 1998 and walk some of the grounds.  But as it was gray and rainy, we retreated back to our little village house.

Then we packed up the suitcases and moved to Beaune, into a modern apartment in an old building just inside the city walls at the Porte Saint-Nicolas entry.  Beaune is a lovely town which has seen its ups and downs since being established as the capital of the Duchy of Burgundy and the center of the wine trade in the thirteenth century.  Here's a good web site with history if you're interested.
Porte Saint-Nicolas, as viewed out our 3rd floor apartment

We ended the day with a nice dinner at Cave du Paradoxe, a casual place recommended by our landlord.  The restaurant has a ground floor dining room as well as a dining room in a cave, also known as a wine cellar.  Beaune is criss-crossed with underground wine cellars, some still in use by the big wine merchants and some in private hands of homeowners and restauranteurs.  Generally not recommended for those with claustrophobia, they can be quite nice on a chilly rainy night, especially when eating a completely yet local dinner, consisting of jambon persille, or ham in parsley aspic (it's not quite as bad as it sounds) and beouf bourguignon, a comforting beef stew with onions, carrots and mushrooms in a yummy beef broth.

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