Saturday, May 24, 2014

More Loire River and "Route du Vin"

May 19th.
It was fun to continue to take the back roads along the Loire rather than the major highways. Just a lot of beauty everywhere you look. Next on our list of stops is Nevers, which is famous for its fine porcelain, and then to Beaune (pronounced 'Bone') which is the center of Burgundy wind country.

Mostly a peaceful river winding through central Frnace.
The town of Nevers as seen from one of the bridges. Old town walls and guard towers abound. This is the location that Augustus Cesear used in 54 BC to store the accumulated loot during thier campaigns against the various tribes. The local tribe that had sworn allegence to Rome took off with all the loot while Cesear and the majority of his forces were away fighting some other  tribe. 
Because of its central location it has changed hands many times. The vikings even sailed up the Loire and  sacked the city in the 750 AD. 
Old walls with long memories.
The path along the town wall includes this charming rose arbor with one of the city gates peaking through .
Still imposing today!
Some were a bit more modest.
Several pottery establishments still produce the traditional ceramics. 
Unfortunately the prices are a bit higher than we can afford.
We certainly can't afford this one. 
Yes, a cathedral too, with lots of buttresses.
But I liked this Romanesque church, St. Etienne, that dates from 1083 AD. The outside is not at all as imposing as the Gothic churches 150 later. 
Small windows and massive walls, but nevertheless, a simple symmetry.
Inside is darker but you can still see the beginnings of the aspirations that culminated in the Gothic structures that followed.
This is considered the finest romanesque church in Europe - most of them were torn down and replaced with gothic style churches or simply not kept in repair. 
And over hill and dale following the Loire upriver.
Along the way we saw this cute little castle perched above this little village. I have no idea what the name of it was. On the other hand we saw signs to Chateau Chinon and so when we got to the village of that name we drove around trying to find the castle, finally asking a local only to find out that there is no castle. When asked why the town is called "Chateau Chinon" he just shrugged and said he had no idea.
As we neared Beaune acres and acres of vineyards -
in the valleys, on the slopes, everywhere; even within the round abouts. 
Lots of interesting things Beaune but the main thing we wanted to see was this hospital named "Hotel Dieu" that was founded in the 1443. 
Nicolas Rolin built this hospital specifically for the poor. In his words, "a hospice for the accommodation, use and residence of sick paupers." and further donated 1,000 livres per year for bread so that "compassion can be shown more completely."
Considered the finest roof in France.
Large airy rooms during an era in history when they didn't even bother to wash hands or anything else for that matter.
At a time in history when the poor were very poorly treated, it is nice to know that there were a few good people.
After that heavy dose of history, we take a "tea time."
After so much walking, we figured that we could justify eating some real yummy treats.