The Hospices de Beaune!!!

I take you to the wonderful world of Burgundy oh no not just wines ,but spectacular monuments waiting to be seen and enjoy as we have over the years. We have been here often and rented houses in the countryside, we call them Gîtes here. This is one I have written briefly in other posts but again never alone and I think it merits one special post. Therefore, let me update this older post on the Hospices de Beaune, in the city of Beaune, Dept of Côte d’Or no 21,  in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region. This is a place that is worth going more than once.


The Hospices de Beaune or Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune is a flamboyant Gothic-style hotel/hospices with glazed tile roofing from Burgundy, founded in the 15C by the Chancellor of the Dukes of Burgundy Nicolas Rolin and his wife Guigone des Salins, in Beaune, Burgundy. It is one of the most famous in the world, both by its sumptuous and remarkable traditional Burgundian architecture and by its prestigious Burgundian wine estate whose production is historically sold at auction to finance its operation , under the name of Sale of the Hospices de Beaune. It is to this day a museum of History of Medicine and exhibits among other things the polyptych the Last Judgement by Rogier van der Weyden.


A bit of history i like

In 1443, at the end of the Hundred Years ‘ War, after hesitation between Autun and Beaune, Nicolas Rolin, wealthy chancellor of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, and his wife, Guigone des Salins, founded this richly endowed Hôtel-Dieu, close to the collegiate Church of Notre-Dame de Beaune of the 12C, and the Hotel des Dukes de Bourgogne in Beaune from the 14C, seat of the Parliament of Burgundy. Beaune is chosen for its high rate of passage and for its absence of a large religious foundation. The Flemish influence is felt in this important city of a Burgundian state which then extended to the Netherlands.  On January 1, 1452, this palace for the sick and poor welcomes its first patients. The elderly, infirm, orphaned, sick, parturient, indigent, attend the institution free of charge, from the Middle Ages to the 20C!. In 1459, Chancellor Rolin obtained the creation of the order of the Hospitalier Sisters of Beaune, whose rule combines monastic life with the care of the poor and the sick.

A bit on the description of the Hospices de Beaune

The exterior facade, relatively austere, contrasts with the richness of the decoration of the central courtyard, with its famous roofs in glazed tile of Burgundy, and that of the interior of the building. An inner courtyard of rectangular shape, it has a water well in Gothic ironwork. These tiles have four colors , red, brown, yellow and green, forming geometric interlacing patterns. They were rebuilt between 1902 and 1907. The north, east and west parts consist of two floors of galleries, with stone balusters on the ground floor and wood at the first, allowing the safe passage from the nursing Sisters. Many skylights feature carved wood and ironwork decorations.

beaune hospice de Beaune courtyard

The Chapel is an integral part of the poor hall and was originally decorated with the polyptych of the Last Judgement of the Flemish painter Rogier van der Weyden, closed during the week and open for Sundays and solemn feasts. Guigone of Salins is resting in peace here. A wooden rood separates, from the chapel and ward of the sick.

Grand hall of the Poor has imposing dimensions with nearly 50 meters long, 14 meters wide and 16 meters high; it is covered with an apparent and painted monumental structure, in the form of a roof in a careened boat shape, covered with slate of Trélazé. The transverse beams come out of the mouth of multi-colored dragons that evoke the monsters of hell. Small-carved heads, depicting caricatures of the local bourgeois folks whose faces are accompanied by heads of animals that symbolize their respective faults, punctuate the spans. The tile includes the Rolin monogram and its motto “Only “. This word accompanied by the star means that his wife, Guigone de Salins is the only lady of his thoughts. The room is occupied by two rows of curtain beds bordering the south and north walls, the central square being reserved for tables and benches for meals. The furniture was restored in 1875. Two patients could lie down on each bed. Behind each bed, a chest made it possible to store the clothes of the sick. There is a hallway with a bench with comfortable chairs running along the wall behind the curtains.

beaune-hospice-de Beaune the-bedroom-of-the-poor

Salle Sainte-Anne room located in the west, in contact with the hall of the poor, and dedicated to Sainte-Anne, with a capacity of four beds.

beaune-hospice-de Beaune officers-room

Salle Saint-Hugues room neighbor of the last, was created in 1645 and includes a few beds for the more affluent patients. It is remarkable for its murals by Isaac Moillon , representing various miracles of Christ as well as Saint Hughes, bishop and monks.

beaune-hospice de Beaune -salon-st-hugues

Salle Saint-Louis room is dedicated to King Louis IX (Saint Louis), it closes the courtyard to the east and was built in 1661 at the site of a barn. This room also contains beautiful gothic chests, a fountain and two series of tapestries from the 16C, one of which is woven in Tournai and tells in seven episodes the Parable of the Prodigal Son and the other from Brussels evokes the story of Jacob.

Salle Saint-Nicholas room is located to the north-west of the courtyard, and dedicated to Saint Nicholas, it was destined for the most serious patients, with 12 beds. It currently serves as a showroom on the history of hospices and its vineyard. A glass paving makes it possible to see the Bouzaise that was used to evacuate sewage.

The Polyptych Room of the Last Judgement (see me above) in the Hospices de Beaune is home to a remarkable work, painted in the 15C, the polyptych with rectangular movable shutters, originally composed of nine painted vertical wire oak panels, six of them on both sides initially exposed in the Chapel of the sick and poor. Probably realized between 1446 and 1452 is sawn on all the thickness of the panels, the reverse and the top ,corresponding to the open and closed positions are exposed together in the same dedicated air conditioned room.  Here in the center you see the Christ  presiding the last judgment  with a throne of heavens showing paradise  on top of Saint Michael  looking on ; around it the Virgin and John the Baptist imploring the forgiveness of Christ; behind them the apostles  and some important personages  imploring for the poor the damn and the saivours . The lateral figures are of Nicolas Rolin  and his wife with grilles showing Saint Sebastian and Saint Anthony, and the scene of the annunciation.

The apothecary includes two small rooms with its shelves of flasks and vials. The first room features a bronze mortar with an arc attached to the pestle to lighten its weight and thus facilitate the work of the apothecaries during the preparation of the remedies. In the second room, the shelves present a collection of 130 pots of earthenware dated 1782 in which were preserved medicinal plants, ointments, oils, pills and syrups of the pharmacopoeia of simple medicines.

The kitchen has a large fireplace with two fireplaces, it is furnished with various elements including an automated spindle-turn dating from 1698, animated by a small automaton in traditional costume called Sir Bertrand who seems to turn the crank making sure all the activities of the kitchen. The kitchen is today presented as it was in the early 19C with its large furnace with two hot water taps called swan-necks. A Saint Martha in polychrome wood watches over the room, framed by copper basins.


An ancient medieval vaulted wine cellar of more than 300 meters is built under the hospices of Beaune. The hospices particular wine reserves are preserved there. This cellar is open to the public visit only during the sale of the Hospices de Beaune.

The Hospices de Beaune are the owners of a Burgundian wine estate thanks to donations and legacies of wealthy Burgundian lords from the Middle Ages ,since 1471 and to five centuries of heritage management. It currently comprises nearly 60 hectares, particularly in the Côte de Beaune and the Côte de Nuits vineyards, most of which are located in areas of first-vintage (grand cru) and large-vintage (premieres cru) appellations of exceptions. The forty-one prestige Cuvées obtained are sold since 1794 in the form of auctions, the third Sunday in November under the name of Sale of the Hospices de Beaune. The result of these sales has been, for five centuries, devoted entirely to the charitable and religious functioning of the old hospices and the new civil and secular hospital institutions. The Hospices de Beaune, now a museum, have been modernized with the civil hospices of Beaune, which finance such institutions as the Hospital Centre Philippe le Bon of short stays of Beaune, opened in 1971; The Nicolas Rolin Center of long and medium stay; with accommodation structures for dependent elderly people,and the Hôtel-Dieu and the Charity (hospices).

A wonderful place, again a must to see while in Beaune, Burgundy or France. We have been back, and each time is glorious here, Hope you enjoy the post as I

Some webpages to help you plan your visit are :

The official Hospices de Beaune

The Beaune tourist office on the Hospices de Beaune

The Bourgogne-Franche-Comté tourist office on the Hospices de Beaune

There you go folks, another jewel masterpiece of my belle France. Another route to follow to enjoy your eyes and minds on history, architecture,and good deeds of all times. Enjoy the Hospices de Beaune as we did!!!

And remember ,happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!!

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2 Comments to “The Hospices de Beaune!!!”

  1. Good history, I enjoyed the post.

    Liked by 1 person

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