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The Spirit And Spirits Of Burgundy, Part 2

Susan Kime

Often, in luxury narratives about river travel, the farther inland the voyagers travel, the more intense the social, religious, and culinary histories of towns and cities become.  Traveling up the Rhône, into the heart of the Burgundy region, it felt like this. 

Our first article in JustLuxe, the Spirit And Spirits Of Burgundy, Part 1, was live in June of last year. It has taken seven months to write about the rest of the Emerald Waterways cruise up the Rhône, then the Saône. 

Each day we experienced a new education as we departed our vessel, the Emerald Liberté. When we took walking tours, we learned the complex tales of these towns and cities along the Rhône, whose cathedrals and castles - some built in the 4th century AD - were still in existence.  We observed ancient church towers, and fragmented frescoes on church walls. A candid tour guides said, "We don't know exactly when these frescoes were painted, or what they represented, but the reds and blues still stand out!" 

One of these churches with the fragmented frescoes was Collégiale St. Julien, that dates from the 14th century, in Tournon.  We were fascinated by these paintings, as well as tournon itself -- in existence since the 10th century.  It was basically a twin town, linked by a relatively new footbridge, called the Marc Seguin. On one side is a prestigious wine town, Tain L'Hermitage, and above the town, are the renowned vineyards, said to be the birthplace of the Syrah grape. On the other side is Tournon. 

We were part of a wine tasting inside the Château de Tournon, built in the 16th century. The taste of the local, well-known wines, included a Crozes-Hermitage, Saint Joseph, and a Saint Peray.

Lyon was another anticipated experience, as it is considered by many to be the culinary capital of France. It lies at the confluence of the Rhône and the Saône rivers, and has been in existence since Roman times --founded in 43 BC - when it was called Lugdunum.  

France's most celebrated chef, the octogenarian Paul Bocuse, comes from Lyon, as are the city's Bouchons - restaurants serving rustic, traditional cuisine. There are some in Vieux Lyon, on the west bank of the Saone, where you can buy and eat the best of anything - pate, chocolate, bottles of Pouilly-Fuisse, Cotes du Rhone wine, cheese, bread, and… silk.  The last item - in terms of silk scarves, ties and cravats - are common in Lyon, as it was an active part of the silk trade for centuries.  In a silk shop in Vieux Lyon, we saw actual silk worms at work. 

Beyond the Vieux Lyon the shopping area, is Fourvière Hill, the real vieux Lyon. Its original site was once the Roman forum of Trajan, with Roman baths that can still be seen as we ascended the hill. In early Christian times, Fourvière was called the Praying Hill, and was where Saint Pothin, the first Bishop of Lyon, was martyred.  At the hilltop is La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière, the large Catholic Basilica that contains exceptional gold wall mosaics, and other icons of the faith. Behind the Basilica are the gardens, and from there we saw the city of Lyon, unforgettable in the clear morning light.  

The historic, culinary and artistic experience of Lyon made it difficult for us to believe there were other places that could match the soul of Lyon. But we still had Beaune to experience, as we traveled farther north on the Saône leaving the Rhône to flow into Switzerland. Many on the cruise had been waiting to see Beaune, as they knew there was nothing like this area anywhere else. 

Beaune is a walled town in the center of the Burgundy winemaking region. Surrounded by the Côte d'Or vineyards, the town is renowned for its world famous three-day annual wine auction, held at the Hôtel-Dieu, also called the Hospices du Beuane, and has been organized by Christie's since 2005.   The vineyards from which the grapes are picked surround Beaune and 85% of the Hospices de Beaune wines consist of Premier and Grand Crus, the best of the best. 

 The Hôtel-Dieu was founded in 1443, when Nicolas Rolin, and his wife, built a hospital and sanctuary for the poor, elderly, and disabled.  The Hôtel-Dieu received the first patient on 1 January 1452, and remained a hospital until the 1970s. The building now houses the Musee de l'Histoire de la Medecine, or Museum of the History of Medicine, and is listed as an historic monument. On the floor tiles are written Nicolas Rolin's monogram and his motto "Seulle" meaning unique and singular. 

Particularly in Beaune, but in all of our travels in Burgundy, the mixture of spirit and spirits seemed to balance. Many archaic cathedrals, and Hôtels-Dieu that ministered to the ailing, are close to well-tended vineyards, reminding us that wine serves as an important symbol within the Christian church and has been part of communion rituals for centuries. 

Standing inside the Chateau at Tournon, the Basilica at the Fourvière hilltop at Lyon, and the Hôtel-Dieu in Beaune, we saw vineyards on the hills beyond, and remembered the old Latin saying, In Vino Veritas, In Wine There Is Truth.  Yet on this Emerald Waterways Rhône cruise, sailing through the living heart of Burgundy, we learned a new phrase: In Vivo Veritas. This means, in living, especially while traveling, there is truth as well.  

 

 

Susan Kime

Fragmentary Image on a 14th Century Wall Fresco at the Collegiale St. Julien in Tournon.

Susan Kime

Marc Seguin Footbridge, Separating Tain L' Hermitage and Tournon

Susan Kime

Chateaux De Tournon, Built In the 16th Century, Our Wine Tasting Area.

Susan Kime

Bouchon Lyonnaise -- One Of The Many Bouchons In Vieux Lyon

Susan Kime

A Lunch Menu Outside a Bouchon Lyonnaise 

Susan Kime

Silkworms -- Outside a Silk Scarf Shop in Vieux Lyon

Susan Kime

Sunrise on the exterior of La Basilique De Notre Dame Fourviere  

Susan Kime

Wall Mosaics of Interior Walls Of The Basilica

Susan Kime

Lyon in Morning, from Fourviere Hill.

Susan Kime

Interior Courtyard, Hotel-Dieu, Beaune

Susan Kime

Old Apothecary Powders from the Hotel-Dieu, or the Hospital at Beuane. The jar on the far right is a powder from Crayfish eyes. 

Susan Kime

Ripples And Quiet On The Saone River

Susan Kime

Sunset On The Saone, In Vivo Veritas.

Susan Kime

Susan Kime's career combines publishing, journalism and editing. She was the Destination Club/Fractional Update Editor for Elite Traveler, and senior club news correspondent for The Robb Report's Vacation Homes. Her work has been published in Stratos, Luxury Living, European CEO, The London Telegraph, Caviar Affair, ARDA Developments, and Luxist/AOL. She was the Editor-in-Chief of Travel Conno...(Read More)

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