The Hôtels-Dieu of Burgundy: Beaune, Tournus, Tonnerre…

All good charity begins at home!

In the Middle Ages, they had the right idea: this was when the wealthy and great noblemen began funding the construction of Hôtels-Dieu (hospitals) to help the poor and needy, in an effort to make sure their souls would be at peace after their death. People were treated at these hospitals until the 20th century. In Beaune, Tonnerre, and Tournus, among others, visitors can see some beautifully preserved treasures in these magnificent buildings!

Alain Doire - BFC Tourisme
1 Iconic...

The Hospices de Beaune

The Hospices de Beaune was built in the 15th century thanks to the funding from Nicolas Rolin, Chancellor of Burgundy, and his wife Guigone de Salins to ensure salvation for their souls. This is without a doubt the most iconic buildings of Burgundy!

It is thanks to the colourful roofing, large paved courtyard, "chambre des pôvres" (room for the poor), ... all revealed in the French film "La Grande vadrouille", that this Hotel-Dieu is so well known today, as well as the internationally renowned Hospices de Beaune wine auction that takes place every year in November and helps to fund the hospital.

Don't miss the polyptych altarpiece, "The Last Judgement" by Flemish artist Rogier van der Weyden. A real marvel!

Find out more about the Hospices de Beaune

Alain Doire - BFC Tourisme
2 The biggest and most ancient!

The Hôtel-Dieu de Tonnerre

In Tonnerre, you will be taken aback by the sheer size of the most ancient Hôtel-Dieu in Burgundy! The ward is no less than 90 metres long! Definitely big enough to ensure its benefactor, Margaret of Burgundy, can now rest in peace...

The sick were treated here, children and the elderly were provided with a safe refuge, and pilgrims on the Way of St. James were given a place to stay for the night.

The hospital remained open until the beginning of the 20th century, and visitors can see recreations of what it looked like back then, to get an idea of the medical practices of past centuries in a patient's room and operating room. You'll be glad you were born much later!

Find out more about this Hôtel-Dieu

Catherine Demoly - BFC Tourisme
3 An exceptional apothecary!

The Hôtel-Dieu de Tournus

The Hôtel-Dieu de Tournus was built in the 17th century and is a great addition to the historic buildings that are well worth a visit in Tournus.

Make sure you visit the apothecary there, as it is the oldest in France still intact. Then, head to the Jardin des Simples where the hospital's nuns would grow the plants used in the pharmacopoeia back then! There are more than 150 clay pots (most of them from Nevers) and almost 130 glass recipients with labels that are still legible today.

Find out more about this Hôtel-Dieu

Alain Doire -BFC Tourisme

And the others...

Louhans, Seurre, Cluny, Chalon-sur-Saône, Mâcon, Moutiers-Saint-Jean, Nuits-Saint-Geroges… each of these towns has its own preciously preserved Hôtel-Dieu and/or apothecary. All of them are worth a visit!

Find out more

En résumé