The road from Chamonix to Beaune was fantastic; mountains and lush green fields. We drove over loads of bridges, set high on top of stilt like pillars, towering over the pretty villages and towns below. Once again we passed through tunnels, carved into the mountains. As we approached one of the tunnels, we saw a sign saying the tunnel was closed, but since there were dozens of French cars whizzing towards the tunnel we followed! The barrier began to lower just as we approached the entrance! Laura warned Rob that the barrier was lowering, so he began to break hard...then changed his mind and stepped on the accelerator, the barrier arm just missing the top of the truck by a whisker! The 'wine taster' car stood still behind the barrier as the truck hurtled into the tunnel!!! Laura and Holly looked at Rob in shock, firstly at the near miss we had with the barrier and secondly because we had left the other car at the entrance of a closed tunnel, traffic backed up for miles behind them! Rob just giggled, "Every man for themselves!". Thankfully we heard news that the 'Wine taster" car had been let into the tunnel just 5 minutes after we had surfaced from the other side!
After a slow journey around Bourg en Bresse we took a slight detour, allowing a quick toilet stop for Linda, at a local bar! Although the quick stop she intended took a little longer when she got lost looking for the toilet and after deciding that the huge winding wooden staircase was probably not the right way, she opened the door to get back into the bar and ended up on the street, the door locking behind her! She walked back into the bar via the front entrance, much to the confusion of the bar man, and then had to be escorted to the toilet as she giggled, still crossing her legs!
We arrived in Beaune early afternoon and after a quick change into our summer clothes we took the short walk into the walled town of historic Beaune, the heart of winemaking in the Bourgogne Region. The weather was absolutely beautiful; hot and sunny.... perfect for a winetasting session deep underground in the caves of Marche aux Vins.
The unguided tour allowed us to visit the caves alone, armed with our complimentary 'tastevin', to taste each of the 15 wines for just €10! The tastevin is a shallow, silver cup, used by sommeliers and wine producers for judging the clarity of wines in the candlelit cellars; the cup being concave with small dimples, to allow as much light as possible to reflect on the shiny silver surface, through the wine. We made our way around the dark caves, stopping at each candlelit barrel, where each bottle of wine was laid out! We strictly adhered to the 'one taste per wine' policy! We sampled 4 White wines (Chablis, Pouilly-Fuisse, Savigny-les-Beaune and Meursault) and 11 reds (Cotes de Nuits Villages, Santernay, Aloxe-Corton, Vosne-Romanee, Pommard (Premier Cru), Gevrey-Chambertin, Volnay, Beaune (Premier Cru) and Corton (Grand Cru)) each wine assending in price, and typically in quality! The tasting finished in a large stone room, with vaulted ceilings; the building had previously been a monastery, and was thought to date back to as early as the 5th century. We made our purchases, based on our very in depth notes, which mainly consisted of 'like this one' and 'like this one more'!
Back in the sunshine of Beaune we walked around the small town, taking photos of the famous Hotel-Dieu des Hospices de Beaune that turned out to be an ornate gothic building founded in 1443 and used as a hospital until 1971, not an old hospital that had been turned into a posh hotel as Laura had confidently told everyone!!
We headed back to the hotel, stopping at 3 bars en route, to break up the 10 minute stroll! Tasting a little more vin and a port for Holly and Brian!
That evening we ate Restaurant Auberge, located close to the hotel. We loosely translated the menu via Robs 'French for Dummies' App and tried some of the local specialities including Oeufs en Meurette (poached eggs on red wine sauce!). We soon managed to change the quiet ambience of the al fresco dining room, laughing at Holly slapping herself in the face when she felt an insect fly at her and Brian innocently calling her 'Slapper Face'! Once we'd managed to clear the restaurant we headed back to the hotel and off to bed after a lovely day in wine country!