Saturday, March 16, 2013

One very busy day

Because of the Paris blizzard of '03 on the exact 20th anniversary of the north Georgia blizzard of '93 (both over the night of March 12-13) our train to London was cancelled. Paris was projected to have a high of 34F which is just enough to melt the surface before the evening drop.   I'm still struggling a bit with the L4 injury I sustained on Nov 2 on the boat on the way toward the BVIs so the idea of an ice fall did not appeal.  So, I got up at 5:30a, left at 6, and went over to Gare du Nord to buy and switch out tickets. First, I succeeded in buying a TGV ticket on one of the French automated machines (hooray! a first!) for Donna and me to go to Angers on the noon bullet train: 200 miles in 90 minutes. Then I was able to get London tickets going over Friday morning and back late Saturday morning. Robert and Dorothy re-invited us to spend Friday night with them, so we took them up on it. Also it enables us to have breakfast on Saturday morning in London with Vladas before we return to Paris at 11am.

Then I headed up to Sacre Couer to photo the pre-dawn light over the City of Light (see photos).  Later we left Paris at noon for Angers because the castle ("Chateau") closes for lunch (as does, incidentally, the ticket office for concerts at St. Chapelle).  As now expected, the train arrived exactly on schedule at 1:30p and we circumnavigated the 13th century fort (see photos) until the 2p re-opening.  Inside are the Apocalypse Tapestries which are the oldest tapestries in the world. They are about 20' high and about 450' long and about 700 years old.  When the French built these Gothic cathedrals, they told the stories of the Bible for the illiterate people. The Apocalypse Tapestries were created to line the interior walls of the halls of the fortress and they tell the story of the return of Jesus as foretold by St. John the Apostle in the Book of Revelation.  The people who first saw these tapestries, and the artists who created them, were living in a grim time and no doubt believed the Apocalypse was at hand: the Bubonic plague had killed a quarter of all people living in Europe, the Hundred Years' war was completing its 4th decade of battle in France, and crop failures had people across France starving to death.

The cathedral was the only disappointment of the day. After seeing the oldest (St Denis), the largest (Notre Dame), the brightest and least catholic (Laon), the most colorful (Chartres), and the most awesome (St. Chapelle) we were due for a lesser cathedral. This one was built in a hurry and lacked the height, breadth, color, light etc of the others

We are now on the bullet train home, flying along the rails just after the last light. Home soon. Spectacular day.  Again.

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