Archive for August, 2014


8.15.14 … going out your door …

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (The Lord of the Rings, #1-3)


8.12.14 … am now a pilgrim … albeit a car pilgrim these first few days …

The Great France and Spain Adventure of 2014 (Day 8), St. Jean-Pied-De-Port FR, Cafe de la Paix:

We start our pilgrimage with an overnight at St. Jean-Pied-De-Port. I loved seeing the town where many pilgrims begin their pilgrimage.  St. Jean-Pied-De-Port is a beautiful town and we had an excellent pizza dinner at Cafe de la Paix.




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8.10.14 … the sights of Tours …

We headed out stuffed to the gills with Edward and Emma in the little red car for 30 minutes til we get to Orly. They are off to Barcelona.

The heavy winds are noticeable when driving the little red Opel, as are the heavy rains.

But we arrive safely.

After a brief nap, we head out to see the sights of Tours.

The Cathedral is lovely, as is the old town.

We have a delightful dinner of Celtic crepes.

And then we walk along the Loire River, by L’Institute de Touraine- Molly’s school this fall and back by L’Hotel de Tours.

It was lovely!!


8.8.14 … Chartres is a great text come down nearly intact … And I walked and walked and walked and walked …

The Great France and Spain Adventure of 2014 (Day 4), Malcolm Miller, Chartres Cathedral labyrinth, Chartres Cathedrale Notre Dame.


Four, yes 4, walks of the labyrinth, one climb of the the North Tower, the late gothic one, a phenomenal Malcolm Miller tour and a crypt tour. I have been here 6 hours and I would love to come again and soon!! It is solved by walking!! — at Chartres Cathedrale Notre Dame.

I was very excited to walk the Chartres labyrinth.  It was  a treat.  I had no idea if it would be crowded.  At dinner last night I explained to Donna that a labyrinth is not a maze, etc. etc.  I think that confusion scares many away.  Well, i absolutely loved the labyrinth.

The first walk was a bit of a fail.  There were people standing on it and not walking.  So I missed a turn. I was trying to record my walk too. Very silly.





And the climb of the North Tower … 300 steps up … and 300 steps down …



And I was so lucky to have a Malcolm Miller tour!!








Without spending much time deciphering … here are my notes:

Windows 150
2nd week of June 1492
Early 13th c
Portals 9
Sculptures 400
Didactic   … Before universities church educated.  And a famous school was here.
All inscriptions in Latin universal language of Europe.
Book … Chartres is a great text come down nearly intact
A bit of History
1700s Brits destroyed history .. Puritan
1800s French destroyed.  Chartres kept for 8 years as a centre of reason.
History of Chartres.
Latin word cathedra = seat
Basilica = large building
this Chartres is the 5th cathredal … Started 1194
In 1037, the 4th cathedral was dedicated.
Before the cathedrals, 2 churches … Crypt … Beneath are 2 earlier churches
 3d Cathedral: 896
Upper using current and 2 parts of two previous
Marble altar: baroque sits on top of 9th c. Crypt
Statue of 9th c built … Good god they have unearthed him.
Chartres cathedral book … new edition
Time v eternity
Jesus second Adam
Middle of time
Christ = anointed.
Who don sired
Merchants bank from word for bench
Dedicated to Mary
Assumption church
Shoemakers’ window. Assumption of Mary
Loved this.  At the end if the tour, I introduced myself to Mr. Miller.  I told him I was from NC.  His response was:  know it well, I have lectured at Davidson and Chapel Hill.
After the tour, i walked again … We are all stacked up walking in community. There is a woman on her knees.  Oddly, she is not following the path.
And then I took the crypt tour inFrench!
And then I walked again …
And at the end of my day,  I enjoyed a walk around the Cathedral and a tour of the shops.  Don’t you love seeing dogs everywhere?



8.7.14 … mousse au chocolat à discretion …

The Great France and Spain Adventure of 2014, Chartres, roundabouts, Donna Morris/Best Friend in Paris, Cinq Mars, Mousse au chocolat à discretion, perfect apartment in the 6th: 

Day 3

Sarlat to Chartres to Paris

Drive … Exhausting. Garmin really does expect me to go 130km/81mi. per hour. I find that tiring … And then it rained and rained. Actually, it poured. And then there were the two tractors on the road to Chartres. And the 50 million traffic circles. It’s official, I hate traffic circles. So I missed the 12 o’clock lecture by Malcolm Miller … Tomorrow.

Instead I got to wander around Chartres and peek at the labyrinth.

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I am excited for tomorrow. I will plan ahead tonight.

Next up: the train to Paris.

Most interesting thing about the train … My first glimpse of Versailles. Tres magnifique!!
Dinner with Donna. She chose Cinq Mars at 51 rue de Verneuil. Excellent time, although it is interesting to visit with grown kids.
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Oddly I did not take a picture of the mousse au chocolat à discretion.  Donna told me that if we asked for multiple bowls we would be charged by the bowl.  So instead we all dug in with our spoons.  🙂

Mousse au chocolat à discretion…For those of you who are confused by this French phrase, it means “help yourself”. I’m still on a chocolate high so let’s start with the dessert. My friend and I are both quite trim, so maybe they were unsuspecting, or just very kind (or perhaps that waitress didn’t know any better and got fired afterwards), but when we asked if we could SPLIT our dessert, they actually brought us one bowl with two spoons. Then they bring out a HUGE serving bowl of chocolate mousse, with perhaps enough for eight normal helpings inside, and leave it on our table. And it was goooooooooood.



Jeff starts scooping out the second round…

I think we ate at least 75% between us. I could have eaten more, but was a bit worried that it would be rude to finish the whole thing — omigod I’ve been in France too long! “Did we eat more than everyone else?” my companion asked when the waitress came to retrieve the bowl. “Non, some people finish it,” she says with a smirk. I should mention

via Cinq-Mars – Paris Dining Reviews – Travel Planning and Private Tours.

Afterwards it was nice to take Donna back to this perfect apartment in the 6th. If you are looking for a perfect apartment, I’ll private message you the details!

8.6.14 … Réveille-toi! I woke up to a rooster’s crow. He was a little early in my opinion …

The Great France and Spain Adventure of 2014 Day 2), Sarlat-la-Canéda  FR, Lascaux II Caves, fast food, Château de Castelnaud, Mirandol: 

Day 2 … Good morning. I woke up to a rooster’s crow. He was a littler early in my opinion.

IMG_0258View from my airbnb lodgings.

So, where am I?  I am safely in Sarlat-la-Canéda.



Sarlat-la-Canéda, or simply Sarlat, is a commune in the Dordogne department in Aquitaine in southwestern France.

via Sarlat-la-Canéda.

And today I am motoring in my little  red Opel to the Lascaux II and then a  car tour of Dordogne River Valley …

A few things that jumped out at me:

1. Mausoleums … Loved them.

2. McDonald’s not open for breakfast. I really needed a coke with ice to get me going. Still needed it at 11:30 … French to not understand fast food … It is supposed to be fast and cheap. My diet coke was 2,9 euros.

3. Cows


3. Boulangerie.


4. Sheep

5. Garmin fail – it took me on a back road to Lascaux caves … Again major fail. So I arrived late. And then because Garmin brought me in the back way, I missed all the signs telling me to buy tickets in Montignac … Wait, wait, wait … Next time I will read my guide book.

6. Lascaux Caves … Loved them. It was a bucket list item and I was not the least disappointed.


Since I could not take pictures inside the replica cave … And think National Geographic has done a pretty good job.

Containing some 600 paintings, Lascaux Cave in France’s Dordogne River Valley is home to perhaps the world’s most incredible array of Upper Paleolithic art. Prehistoric artists created the depictions of bulls and other animals on the cave’s calcite walls more than 17,000 years ago. The cave—and its artwork—was discovered by a group of teenagers in 1940.

via Lascaux Cave Picture, Lascaux Cave Desktop Wallpaper, Free Wallpapers, Download, Photography – National Geographic.

Also see Prehistoric Sites and Decorated Caves of the Vézère Valley – UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

7. Foi Gras: should I try it? I wondered why all the corn was growing in this region. It’s for the geese. The French don’t really eat corn.


8. Afternoon car tour and medieval castle tour at Château de Castelnaud (Accueil.)

. I followed Rick Steves’ River Valley Scenic Loop. I would say this was his first fail in my book. I still enjoyed myself, but I was glad I was not sharing the experience with anyone.


9.   Rick Steves redeemed himself.  At first my timing was off for his suggested walking tour of Sarlat. The Cathedral was closed.  The famous Lantern honoring those who died of the plague was not viewable because of a private party. The former church that is now a large open covered market was closed.


But then my tour  turned excellent. I loved watching the children play on the geese sculpture. I loved the architecture. And then I found the restaurant, La Mirandol.   It was a fantastic meal for 24 euros.  Every course was excellent. It is sad when you eat such a phenomenal meal by yourself.

L’Auberge Le Mirandol vous propose une cuisine traditionnelle,  soignée et faite maison : foie gras mi-cuit, confits de canard et d’oie, magrets, coq au vin, tarte et soufflé glacé au noix…

via Nos Menus.





And afterwards my walk home was excellent. The lanterns were on (the only French town supposedly to retain its original gas lanterns), but I think many have been replaced with LED and they are still lovely.   My stomach is full, my soul is nourished and my heart is warmed.

And now it is time to sleep … Airbnb was cheap and safe, but I would not recommend my host in Sarlat.


8.4.14 – 8.5.14 … butterflies and sunflowers …

The Great France and Spain Adventure of 2014, Opel, Burgos, Burgos Cathedral, Burgos, The Butterfly’s Daughter, sunflowers, Saint Thecla, literary themes, butterfly soul theme: So I headed out on my great adventure.  My backpack weighs a mere 11 pounds!

As I flew across the big pond, I read a book highly recommended to me, The Butterfly’s Daughter.  It was excellent!


It has one of my favorite literary themes, butterfly soul theme.  See Dictionary of Literary Themes and Motifs – Google Books.

Upon landing, I checked out my little red Opel and headed north.  And the sunflowers were amazing!

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My first stop was Burgos.  Very beautiful!



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The church has a Latin cross plan with three naves. It also has a very big octagonal dome that is 36 meters high. The main altarpiece calls attention with its Romanesque style. There are polychrome alabaster sculptures created by Pere Joan that are dated to the 15th century . The top part has episodes of the Virgin’s life and the lower part shows that of Santa Tecla, the patron saint of the city. There is a choir that occupies the central space of the main nave and has chairs from Flanders from the 15th century. There is a chapel dedicated to Santa Tecla that was started in 1775 and has Churrigueresque decoration from J. Prats.

via Spain: The Best Cathedrals in Spain – TripAdvisor.

Then I drove on and on and on  to Sarlat.

So does anyone know who Saint Thecla was?

According to the Acts of Paul and Thecla, Thecla was a young noble virgin who listened to Paul’s “discourse on virginity” and became Paul’s follower and a Disciple of Paul’s teachings and Ministry. Thecla’s mother and her fiancé Thamyris became concerned Thecla would follow Paul’s demand “one must fear only one God and live in chastity”, and punished both Paul and Thecla.

Thecla was miraculously saved from burning at the stake by the onset of a storm and traveled with Paul to Antioch of Pisidia. There a nobleman named Alexander desired Thecla and attempted to take her by force. Thecla fought him off, assaulting him in the process, and was put on trial for assaulting a nobleman. She was sentenced to be eaten by wild beasts, but was again saved by a series of miracles when the female beasts protected her against her male aggressors.

via Thecla – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.



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August 2014