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  • Shelley Dark

11. a stroke of luck

Today was a diamond. We had a wonderful stroke of luck. I can't wait to tell you!

But first let me show you our hotel. It's called La Berbisey, and it's a private home owned by Marie Hélène Joffroy and her husband. From the street it's a double red door with a creeper growing along the top. Inside is a cobblestone courtyard, with flowering roses, Judas trees, and potted azaleas. Behind the arches on the left is a heated swimming pool. To get to it, you go down some stairs in the building on the right, walk through a subterranean tunnel under the cobblestones, and come up again!

We can smell this flowering rose from our window above and the balcony opens off our bedroom. It's a quick five minute walk to the centre of town.

I love the colour scheme.

With grey silk curtains and taupe shutters.

Last night after I finished my post, I thought I'd have a quick shower before bed. It was like something out of a French comedy. John was sound asleep. In the shower cubicle on the wall in front of me were three round knobs. One had a red button on it, with numbers, I guessed to dial the water temperature. Without getting in, I turned the tap above it. Water shot out of a jet on the wall to my left, in front of my nose. It hit the hand-held shower nozzle on the other wall. I had to reach through the spray to try to turn it off. Which made that nozzle stop and the shower start, sending water all over me outside the cubicle. I hopped in. I turned the knob quickly again and there were more nozzles on the wall on my right! They starting spouting, hitting the recessed shelf on the other side, filling it with water. By this time, my glasses were fogging up. I tried the middle knob and the overhead rain shower started. The jets were all dribbling. I couldn't help laughing out loud. Thank goodness the water wasn't hot.

I managed to have a shower at a nice temperature without really knowing how I did it. This morning before I woke, John discovered the intricacies for himself. I still don't know what to do.

There's a study with sofa and chairs in a large herringbone pattern, a cabriole leg desk with taupe leather inlay, and taupe silk lamps.

The sitting room downstairs.

And the breakfast room.

Yesterday we went to the Tourist Information Centre to buy the Owl Walk booklet. It has maps and descriptions which match brass plaques set into the footpath. Best value couple of euro you could imagine. We've been surprised by just how beautiful Dijon is.

This couple were deep in conversation in the Jardin Darcy park. There's a copy of the 'white bear' here by Francois Pompom. Some of his works are held by the Fine Arts Museum, not on display at the moment unfortunately because there's a huge renovation going on for the next three years.

This art nouveau building with mushroom cap roofline was a real surprise. It was designed by Louis Perreau who also designed the very conservative Post Office next door.

The strawberries at the green grocer across the way are in season and looked very sweet.

This is the Place François Rude after the famous Dijon sculptor who was responsible for the famous bas relief sculpture on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

The local theatre in the neo-classical style popular at the beginning of the twentieth century.

This church is now the local library.

Do you remember Philippe the Good when we were in Beaune? The one who built the hospital for the poor?

He was one of a succession of four powerful dukes from a 'junior' branch of the House of Valois who ruled Burgundy from 1363 until 1477. There were Philippe the Bold, John the Fearless, Philippe the Good and Charles the Bold. They were such dangerous rivals to the king of France that at the end of the male lineage, Louis XVI of France confiscated their territory, stripping descendants of future power.

Their palace is now the Musée des Beaux Arts. Although only one quarter of it is open because of scaffolding and renovations, it took hours to see everything.

When we were looking for the entrance, not an easy task with the work going on, we stumbled on this beautifully painted panelling in the palace which quite took my breath away.

This is the the Salles des Gardes which showcases the magnificent tombs of Philip the Bold (far tomb) and John the Fearless (his son) and his wife.

Phillip the Bold had managed an uneasy truce with the French king during his lifetime. His son John succeeded him and arranged the murder of his cousin, the Duke of Orleans, the brother of the king. The Duke of Orleans was actually ruling because the king had bipolar disorder. And it was said he'd had an affair with John's wife.

John then had a meeting with the king's son, his deadly enemy, to discuss peace. He was advised against going.

They agreed to meet in the middle of a bridge, where a room had been constructed for this purpose. Each was to take 10 men inside with them. The story is that when inside, he put his hand on his sword handle, and one of the Dauphin's men asked 'You would put your hand on your sword in the presence of the Dauphin?'. John was struck in the face with an axe and then stabbed to death.

Sounds more like a dreadful soapie doesn't it?

The tombs are supported by hundreds of mourners like this, alabaster sculptures by famous Flemish artisans. The detail is unbelievable.

This is a poor photo of what is reputed to be Joan of Arc's sword. There were other two handed swords there which were over 5 feet tall!

One of the attendants at the museum reminded us that if we wanted to go up Philippe's tower we'd need to buy a ticket at the Tourist Office. While I was doing it, I noticed a doorway. Inside was the most beautiful little chapel. This carving was on one of of the doors.

I cannot imagine how long the task and how skilful the carvers to do this work.