Here we are in Champagne & it's Steve's birthday & we are sleeping in a CASTLE in one of the most expensive countries in the world & the stock market is down 7% but what can you, do I say, but live life for the moment...? C'est la vie, n'est ce pas? We will be back at work next week & the party will well & truly be over so we must enjoy every little bit while we can. Besides, I've found I can't use my credit card here anyway because I don't have a PIN for it so possibly I am saving plenty of Euros!!
Anyway, enough of that doom & gloom. See this photo above? It is taken in the courtyard of l'Hospices de Beaune, which I told you about in the last post. Did you check out the website? Oh my gosh! It is an incredible Hospice that was built in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin & his rich (from salt mines) wife, Guigone de Salins to ensure their place in heaven by doing something for the sick & poor of the area. As you can imagine, there was plague, famine, drought etc & this Hospice was designed to make the inpatients (usually four to a bed) feel they were in the arms of God - so you can imagine the decorative arts inside, ie the ceilings. The nuns were also incredible archivists so the museum is fascinating. The Hospice was in operation as the local Beaune Hospital until 1985 & the thought of doing night shift there sent shivers down my spine! As you can tell though, by my effusive rantings, I absolutely loved it!
This is the painting that was originally on the back wall of the Hospice & chapel. It's a polyptych piece painted in the 15th century that represents the Last Judgement. It was an absolutely mind-blowing piece with so much detail within the work & so much imagery. I was completely transfixed by it. Someone had painted it over with black paint (probably during the French Revolution) & it was left like that for many centuries until, of course, it was found & a piece of paint was knocked off & the painting was revealed. It seems the black paint actually preserved the work.
Claude is bak & ready to ride.... he just got here too late. This was at the very end of our bike ride & this was my trusty "steed" and it's nasty seat. I will miss riding though & possibly I will get a bike when we are home. The French drivers are extremely considerate of bike riders here so I felt quite safe on the roads & I'm afraid the same cannot be said of Brisbane, but that's really because France is so set up for biking. There are bike paths everywhere & it's really a national sport and way of life!
We've met up with Hugh & mum now & are all piled into a Renault wagon. Yesterday we drove to Etoges, in the champagne region & I will tell you all about that tomorrow morning as we only arrived last evening so haven't expl0red the region yet. This photo above is the cheese department of the supermarket where we stopped to buy supplies for our roadside picnic. Mum & Hugh are all set up with an esky, plates, napkins, cups...! Steve & I have very obviously been slumming it this past week with our baguettes. Hugh has a satnav device with the car rental which is proving to be a brilliant help because the road map leaves a few towns out...
Off now to celebrate Steve's birthday & to do some exploring! Mum has organised this leg of our journey & so far, it is brilliant as we are staying in a 16th century chateau so I am finally partially fulfilling my "Pride & Prejudice" fantasy with my own real life Mr Darcy, who needs to get out of that shower soon & let me in! Au revoir!