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On the rare free afternoon of our French nuclear facilities tour, we had the pleasure of visiting Beaune, the beating heart of the Bourgogne (Burgundy) wine region.  We were treated to a headphones-and-tape-recorder tour of the Hospices de Beaune, a medieval charitable hospital for the poor, rather than the wine tasting that everyone I would have preferred.

I shouldn’t be such a cynic.  The Hospices, or the Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune, was actually a beautiful building in archetypal French 15th century style, decorated with an intricate colored tile roof and stretching gargoyles.  Now a museum, they had some of the original roof tiles on display — glazed like thrown pottery.

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I wouldn’t have visited the Hospices on my own, but I left impressed.  The site offers a rare architectural style and a lovely chapel.  The town of Beaune itself is a good place to base oneself for a few days in the Burgundy region — it’s quaint, but not without tourist shops peddling wine and Dijon mustard.

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