Beaune was the seat of the warlike dukes of Burgundy until the 16th century. It is renowned for L'Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune which was founded as a charitable institution by the duke’s chancellor in 1443. The hospital became a model for charitable giving in southern France, one with a unique fundraising tradition that continues to this day. Over the centuries, the hospice monks were given wine and vineyards, and they began selling the wine at auction in order to support their charitable work. The wine auction is now world-famous, and the institution remains a working hospital for the poor, with modern facilities standing alongside the historic Hôtel-Dieu.
We saw the wards where for many years two patients shared a bed.
We also visited the medicinal garden and the pharmacy.
The Beaune Altarpiece (or The Last Judgement), originally in the chapel of the ward for the poor, is a large polyptych circa 1445–1450 altarpiece by the artist Rogier van der Weyden, painted in oil on oak panels with parts later transferred to canvas. It consists of fifteen paintings on nine panels, of which six are painted on both sides. Unusually for the period, it retains some of its original frames.
After we left L'Hôtel-Dieu we walked around Beaune which
is pretty and had a delicious cake in one of the patisseries.