A First Time for Everything, Saone, Beaune and Paris
April 14, 2017 was a gorgeous, sunny day on the Saone River in France. Doug and I were enjoying our last day onboard the river cruise vessel Poetry II and decided to sit on the sun deck and watch the beautiful countryside go by. We were sitting in front of the Captain enjoying the views when we began to hear shouting.
Much to our amazement the locals were standing on the banks of the river waving and shouting to us, grinning from ear to ear. We asked the Captain what this warm welcome was all about and he explained we were the very first river cruise vessel to navigate this far up the Saone River.
It struck me that almost everyone I talk to about travel to France says “I don’t want to go to France, the French don’t like Americans”. I’ve now been to France 3 times, adding it all up over 30 days of travel in France, and I have to say I could not disagree more with that negative statement. I’ve been treated wonderfully by the French and know you will, too.
We disembarked our ship in St. Jean de Losne and headed through the beautiful countryside to the city of Beaune.
Beaune is the unofficial capital of the Cote d’Or area and Burgundy’s wine capital. Although life here centers on wine Beaune offers much more with its ramparts, medieval houses, cobblestone streets, and historical monuments. We were delighted to find we had arrived during a farmers market and were amazed at the gorgeous produce and products offered for sale there.
The highlight of Beaune is the Hospice de Beaune. Known for its’ stunningly beautiful roof made from glazed tiles. This hospital met the medical needs of the poor from 1433 until 1971. Isn’t that amazing?
Our walking tour of the Hospice de Beaune was fascinating. The 15th century gothic architecture, half-timbered galleries and medical devices from the middle ages kept you engaged throughout the tour.
Founded by the Duke of Burgundy and his wife and dedicated to the treatment of the poor, the Hospice de Beaune literally came to life for us due to the in-depth knowledge provided by our local guide, reminding why my #1 choice for international travel always includes guided tours.
On to Paris, my favorite city on earth. Romantic, lively, beautiful beyond description there is literally no place on earth that compares to Paris. This was our third time in Paris and I can’t imagine anyone would ever be bored with it, no matter how many times they experienced it.
Much to my surprise we were able to attend Easter Sunday Services at Notre Dame Cathedral. After that we investigated the entire Ile de la Cite (one of two remaining islands in the Seine and where the city of Paris was founded in medieval times).
Wanting to do something we’d never done before, we walked over to Sainte Chapelle and I am so very glad we did.
Built by Louis IX between 1242 and 1248 to house relics from the Passion of Christ this stunningly beautiful chapel should be a “must see” for everyone who comes to Paris. The Upper Chapel houses the Crown of Thorns, and every square inch of it reflects the glory of Christ. I have never seen so many beautiful stained glass windows whose purpose was to make onlookers feel as though they had entered heaven itself. Mission accomplished I’d say.
After taking the subway to our hotel and enjoying another grand day in Paris we returned home. A fantastic trip from the bucket list – in another 15 years or so I may have completed them all!
Joy Gawf-Crutchfield owns and operates The Joy of Travel