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Posts tagged ‘Dijon’

No. 345: Searching for Monsieur Chat

I am not sure why it took me nearly three years to discover these delightful golden cats with the Cheshire grin because I always make it a habit to look up.

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And ‘up’ is where you will find them, mischievously smiling down. I came across them in Orléans earlier this summer, and now I see them peeking out at me here at home. I have even seen them as far away as Geneva, and rumor has it this roving rascal has made it all the way to the big time in New York City.

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This fancy feline appears under the cover of darkness when his puckish painter comes out to play tag. Spray cans in hand; the artist’s imagination takes flight late at night on high above rooflines and sand colored walls. Sometimes you find them grinning uncertainly from chimney pipes and gutters. And sometimes their paws reach out for the sky while their faces laugh at the sun. I even saw this cool cat winging it with angels in front of the pearly gates.

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Monsieur Chat is my favorite skyline treasure hunt. Where have you seen this traveling tomcat?

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No. 53: Beaune, Bourgogne

Beaune (pronounced somewhere between “bon” and “bone”) is about 20 mile south of Dijon in Bourgogne (Burgundy) and is the informal capital of the Côte d’Or wine region. It’s raison d’être both historically and nowadays truly seems to be wine. It’s a great place to make wine, buy wine, taste wine and of course, drink wine.

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Luckily we arrived as the tourists had already gone home for the season and were able to enjoy the ancient feel of times-gone-by in this well-preserved walled town. Its windy cobbled streets and friendly squares sprinkled with cafés make it a splendid spot to ponder the rich historical and architectural heritage of the area, while sampling the region’s wine. And the wine is indeed quite fine. I have a French friend (born in Bourgogne, bien sûr) who has told me several times that Beaune is “the” best place in all of France for wine tasting. Surrounded by some of the world’s most celebrated wine villages, I would say, she definitely has a point.

In addition to being located smack dab in the middle of Burgundy wine country, Beaune also houses a marvelous Hôtel-Dieu, which dates back to 1443! Burgundy’s Philippe le Bon and his wife created this medieval charity hospital for the poor after the end of the 100 Years War. Although it is a bit dowdy and unassuming from the outside, once you step inside the courtyard you will delight in the intricate and colorfully tilled roofs, the lacy dressings and the inordinate number of weathervanes. It is a super interesting visit , one which I highly recommend.

If you are traveling without a car, it’s very easy to get to Beaune by train—only 30 minutes from Dijon, and quite simple to organize a wine tour once there.

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Vocabulaire

bien sûr: of course, naturally

Hôtel-Dieu: religious hospital, charitable hospital  

raison d’être: purpose, reason for being