Sometimes everything has to be enscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you. Sometimes it takes a great sky to find that small, bright, and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart. David Whyte

Memoir of Two Innocents Abroad: Part Five

on September 9, 2014

After our day in Paris we headed toward the Riviera. There is an “interstate” from Paris to Marseilles but we elected to take the scenic route. First we went to Chartres to see the cathedral which is reputed to have the most beautiful stained glass windows in Europe. They are magnificent. The Cathedral in Chartres has a more rounded appearance than English Gothic architecture, which seems to point straight to heaven. I think there is a Norman influence in French cathedrals but can’t remember. Anyway the French cathedrals are similar to each other and differ from English cathedrals of the same century. The English have the tall spires, the French have the gargoyles. Both have flying buttresses. I studied all of this in art history. I don’t remember where my notebooks are but maybe I can dig them up to refresh my memory.

We left Chartres, keeping to the scenic route. We stopped in Le Mans for lunch in a restaurant where I encountered my first uni-sex bathroom. We looked for but did not see specifically where the Grand Prix is held and drove on. By now we were supposed to be in Chateau Country but hadn’t seen any Chateaux yet. In fact we still weren’t as taken with the scenery as we had been in England. Everything looked drab. The houses were built of gray and tan stone and the streets weren’t as winding. The farm land looked neat and well-tended. As we got farther from Paris we thought the towns had more character. And we saw some pretty estates at a distance. The houses closer to the road we traveled on were formal and of typically French architecture. Even the newer houses were built in the same style. There were rock cliffs behind the houses built along the side of the road where people had dug back into the rocks to make garages, barns and even parts of their houses. The people seemed poor but our friend in Cannes later told us that they are happy and do not consider themselves poor. The only thing they want out of life is a big, fine meal in a restaurant once a week. They save their money during week to blow it all on food.

Further along into the afternoon a French gendarme stopped us to tell us our license plate was on wrong. By this time the other screw had fallen out and that side of the plate was likewise held in place by a coat hanger. To make things worse, as we drove the wind blew the plate under the bumper and it became invisible. Neither the policeman nor we understood each other. My Berlitz book didn’t have phrases for the situation. My husband had reached the point of thinking if he just spoke loud enough his message would get through. Somehow we got the idea that the policeman thought we had been in an accident. We all gave up on communicating and he let us go.

We continued on. Our original plan was to spend the night in Lyons. We hoped to reach there in the afternoon and have time for sightseeing. Lyons is famous for silk and there is a Gothic section that interested us. Our run-in with the gendarme, which was getting to be a habit, slowed us down so we made it only as far as Roanne. It was dark by then and even if we had pushed on to Lyons it would have been too late do anything. We were glad to find a little hotel in Roanne, eat supper and go to bed.

16 responses to “Memoir of Two Innocents Abroad: Part Five

  1. I’ve always wanted to visit the Chartres Cathedral. In the book, “Monuments Men,” they talk about the way Nazi soldiers had left bombs throughout that particular cathedral, and the story of the soldiers who risked their lives to diffuse the bombs and save this historic landmark. I bet it was beautiful!

  2. Travel time over for today. Thank u for the adventure.

  3. Love following you on a tour of my homeland. Looks likes you might have seen more of it than I have πŸ˜‰

    • vivachange77 says:

      I do love your homeland. πŸ™‚ I went back in 1999 and spent a week in Paris. This time I went inside the places I missed before and ate in good restaurants. I like Allan Furst’ s spy novels set in the time just before and during WWII His descriptions of Paris make me feel as if I were there.

  4. Silver Threading says:

    Loving these adventure s! β™‘

  5. vivachange77 says:

    Thanks. It is a delight to me to picture that trip – even things not in my letters. Telling stories does that.

  6. Meredith says:

    I’ll leave the last few for another day. Thanks for sharing.

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