Our Barge, Odysseus

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Tournus - August 2-4

Hugh McNight calls Tournus "one of the most pleasing towns on the entire river," and we would have to agree. Just big enough to have all of the necessities (grocery, a good selection of boulangeries and specialty shops), but small enough to easily navigate on foot; great old buildings and some narrow twisting streets. It also has a two day free mooring pontoon with water and electricity (if you can fight off the hireboats for a spot!).
The centerpiece of the old town in the abbey church of St. Philibert, a romanesque construction from the 11th and 12th centuries, although the crypt (which is open to the public) dates from the 6th.

The interior has been tastefully restored.

Here's one of those narrow alleyways from the middle ages.
Wednesday morning we visited the 17th century Hotel-Dieu which the town has maintained in magnificent fashion.
We visited the Hospices of Beaune several years ago and this facility is right up there. The hospitals for the poor and destitute were constructed with donated funds; the nobles providing the money to fulfill their "Christian charity." The Beaune facility was willed several very prosperous vineyards to provide it's endowment; the Hotel-Dieu in Tournus wasn't so lucky. But because of this, little upgrading was performed over the years and when the hospital finally closed in 1982, little had to be done to restore it to it's original state.
Just like in Beaune, the patients had a curtained bed (with a stool to reach it) that had a door in the back allowing entrance to a passageway for the nursing nuns to use for access.

There were three wards, one for women, one for men and one for soldiers, all radiating from a central chapel that was visible from all the wards so the patients could join in the celebration of religious services.

The view from above; men's ward in the foreground, women's ward on the other side of the central altar and the soldiers ward to the left, out of the picture.

Another part of the building housed the Apothecary with its cabinets holding all of the elixirs required for medicine in the 17th century.

Hand-blown glass jars held these two "medicines."

Tournus is in the "Maconnaise" region, home of France's finest white wines and there's a great cave just outside of town that features the local cooperatives wines. On the site of an old gas station, it's only been open for three months and they've really gone all out to provide a first-class facility. It turned out to be a little more of a walk than we thought but, luckily for us, after our tasting and purchases, the owner provided us with a ride back to the boat in his car. Service with a smile!

Thursday morning it was off again. Just 6 kilometers down the Saone we turned left and though a lock into our next navigation, the Seille River.

No comments: