On Monday we woke up super early (6am) to head to Beaune. I wore my new brown hippie dress that I purchased in Interlaken and we caught a bus while it was still dark out to make it to the train station in time. Nate wanted to encourage Josh in speaking French and nudged him towards buying the tickets for our bus ride. He counted out the proper amount of Euros and coached him to say “Deux billet, si-vou plait” (two tickets, please) to the driver when he got on. Turns out the price per ticket had gone up and josh didn’t have the right amount pre counted out. It got all awkward and funny with about 50 French people watching us bumble about at the front of the train with our giant packs and non-French speaking-selves.
The train station was PACKED for so early in the morning on a Monday. We assumed a lot of the traffic was due to students returning from a weekend excursion trying to make it to class on time Monday morning.
We purchased tickets (with a bonus discount because we still fell into the 25 and under category!) and jumped on the train.
With one stop in Lyon we grabbed a quick espresso and pan au chocolate on our layover and then went on to Beaune. The second part of the trip was about 3 hours and Ayla entertained us with some adorable singing and general sweetness.
Our hotel in Beaune was a historic looking chateau directly across from the train station. It was so quaint and cozy inside. Our shared room was on the top floor and inside the room we found that it had two levels inside. (Upstairs 3 twin beds and a few windows overlooking the red roof tops and downstairs a double bed, TV and bathroom). The furnishings weren’t fancy, but it had such a feeling of home and comfort that we were cool with it.
Once we dropped our bags off we decided it was time to explore and grab lunch! We roamed a few sparsely populated streets taking pictures for a while.
Then we stumbled upon a bustling café , and in true Michael style, we decided the restaurant based on the amount of people already there. Gobs of people = Awesome Restaurant. This restaurant was no exception. We ended up being seated in the back room next to a HUGE group of very loud and rude Asian tourist and another group of lunching French women.
Here is where we had some of our favorite food of the entire trip. Josh ordered croaque madame (Ham and cheese with egg) and I ordered Beof Borgunione with a diet coke served in the fancy glass bottle.
After lunch I had my awkward moment with a French Woman and then Josh and I dropped a LOAD of money at one of the local wine stores. Totally taken in by her “Our whites in this region are the best around” schpeel after already committing to 3 reds.
Then we went on to do the most touristy thing we had done yet – a wine cellar tasting. We paid 10 Euro and got to visit the cellars under the streets of Beaune and tasted 17 different wines! Nate and Jo had a conversation in French with a semi-toothless portly Sommelier in which I’m pretty sure he insulted all Americans. Regardless - this was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip to France.
Those numbers = the wine's vintage! Crazy!
Before leaving, we of course had to buy some more wine and maybe a few Christmas presents (thank goodness for Ayla’s stroller carrying all of our goodies!) When we left the celler it was cold and POURING Rain outside! (So much for the weather.com 70 and sunny prediction) We got soaked sprinting to a nearby awning to decide what to do next. Baguettes and espresso were in order to warm us up!
Afterwards, we were faced with the hard decision of walking back in the rain about 10 mins to our hotel to drop off our stuff before dinner or waiting around in the downtown area for 3 hours till we were hungry enough to eat. (I don’t know why there wasn’t an option number 3 of waiting for the rain to STOP and then walking back…but I digress)
Let’s just said 10 mins later my mood was more than sour as we got back to the hotel. I was cold. I was tired. I was sopping wet. I was first back to the room and didn’t have a key so I just had to stand in the hallway waiting for everyone. I had ruined my cute brown dress and realzed that because it was just one night, I packed light and didn’t have a reasonable change of clothes…ARGH! The more upset I got about the situation, the more upset I got at myself because I was in France and ruining everything with my crappy attitude! It was an endless downward spiral to the pit of cranky despair.
When the door was finally opened I huffed to the upstairs stripped out of my cold clothes and put on some warm PJs and laid on the bed listening to the rain beat the hell out of the roof top. Josh came and snuggled with me on the tiny twin bed and we dozed off to the storm. It was quite a poetic moment of morose comfort.
The remainder of the afternoon we killed time in the hotel room looking out the window at the rain, reading, Watching TV and speaking in hushed towns while Ayla took a nap.
The rain died down and we headed off to dinner around 7 and went straight down to the heart of town to see what types of restaurants there were.
Most of the patios and restaurants were empty because French people don’t dine until 8 or 9, so we were out there with the other tourists and the old people. There was a strip of 5 restaurants in a row off the main circle and I was entranced by one that had bright white Christmas lights strung all around it’s entrance.
The place was empty save for a petite blonde woman standing behind the bar. Joanna asked for a table and we plopped down at one of the many open spaces. I’m not going to linger to much more on our experience here because, let’s just say the twinkle lights outside were the only good thing about this place. My Pasta was bland, Jo’s Beouf Borgion was burnt and Josh’s pizza was only saved by the fact that he ordered it with two fried eggs on top. (Yup, eggs on pizza.)
Josh and I left a bit early to grab a bit of dessert at one of the other cafes in hopes that their food would be better.
We thought splitting a nutella waffle would be good. We both pictured a big waffle covered in warm nutella and possibly topped with whipped cream. What we got was 2 (not one to split, as I had ordered…I think she was confused) plain Belgian waffles with a small packet of nutella each. Lame-a-tron.
(Side bar: Sorry to complain so much, but the last part of our first day in Beaune was probably my least favorite part of the trip. This is in stark comparison to the first part of our day in Beaune being my some of my favorite memories!)
Back at the hotel was also much better as Joanna and I read through the welcome book left on the night stand and made fun of their poor English and the fact that they offered babysitting services. (never heard of that at a hotel before!) Then Josh and I giggled like children till about 3 am trying to see who could unroll the toilet paper on the iTouch game fastest. Good times.
Day 6 - Tuesday, October 5
Nate, Jo and Ayla headed out early on Tuesday because they needed to get back to Chambery for a Doctor’s appointment. We grabbed a few pastries with them before they left and promptly went back to bed till about 10 am due to our late night of crazy game competitions.
Around 11 we headed out to wander the (again cold) streets of Beaune some more. We found several new areas that we hadn’t explored and looked a few shops till they closed down for lunch (yup…shops close during lunch time).
Josh came to his hunger/shopping breaking point when I was paroozing some jewelry and we quickly found a nearby restaurant with a good lunch Menu (not the thing listed with all the options, but French restaurants often offer Menus which are basically the daily special that includes an appetizer, entrée, and dessert. Kinda like the Chilis 2 for 20 deals…except more sophisticated and awesome)
I ordered pizza and josh ordered the menu which included chicken, noodles, mushrooms and cream sauce. Kinda like a marsala, but not really. We grabbed a couple of dessert pastries on the way back to the train station and then jumped on the train around 1:45.
The trip back was uneventful aside from us taking these really "cool" photos holding a bottle of wine that was older than both of us a gypsy asking us for food during the layover in Lyon.
Back in Chambery we stopped by yet again another boulangarie to grab a baguette to go with dinner. The woman tried to speak English to us and told us the total was nineteen fifty…even though we knew she really meant ninety-five cents.
That evening Nate and Joe made an awesome Lardon and goat cheese quiche with salad for dinner. We stayed up late talking and playing Euchre.
It was so good to be back around them. They have seen both Josh and I at our worst and still seem to always love and forgive us. They were a friendly warm welcome after our cold cranky days in Beaune. They really are life-long friends, that just so happen to be related to us.