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Hospices de Beaune - the Htel-Dieu

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Walking around the town of Beaune you might well ask, where is this famous building with the multi-coloured roof? You can pass by the exterior of the Hôtel-Dieu housing the Hospices de Beaune thinking it just another imposing, rather austere building in a very regal town.

But the jewel is within. The two wings of this ancient hospital have been built around a central courtyard with deep roofs covered in glazed multicoloured tiles arranged in geometric patterns. Inset in the roofs are gable windows with carvings and decoration which are an art form in themselves.

The Hôtel-Dieu was built in the golden age of Burgundy in 1443 by Nicholas Rolin, the Chancellor of Duke Philippe-le-Bon. Beaune at the time was suffering from poverty and famine after the Hundred Years’ War and so as a sweetener, Rolin and his wife, founded the Hospice for the Poor, giving it an annual income and its own resources, vines and salt works.

Right up until the 20th century, the sick were cared for by the Sisters of the Hospices de Beaune in the magnificent building. Its reputation spread far and wide and it became known as the ‘Palace of the Poor’. Donations were received, new rooms added with works of art included. Hospitals in other communes, Pommard, Volnay and Meursault joined forces to make up the Hospices, bringing with them donations of vineyards, which today total 53 hectares. The famous wine auction, a charity sale, held each November at the Hospices is still reaping the rewards.

This medieval building is a fine example of Burgundian-Flemish art and the ironwork and carvings, the tapestries and polyptych are works of art in themselves.

*Open every day throughout the year 9.00-11.30 and 14.00-17.30
Braille guide available from the tourist offices free of charge.

An aerial view of Beaune

From May to October you can take a hot air balloon flight from Beaune, and with the wind in a favourable direction, fly over the mosaic roof of the Hospices. More details from France Montgolfières

Burgundy Holiday Homes Direct from Owner

  • La Maison du Couvent, sleeps 4-6
  • Beaune townhouse, sleeps 5, ref: 866634a
  • Beaune with pool, sleeps 8, ref: 1009553
  • Beaune, sleeps 4, ref: 846338


Pam Elson ©burgundytoday.com