Group flight to Paris / Depart John F. Kennedy Airport, New York
City, Air France No. 022 at 10 p.m. / Times subject to change.
Steve Gosnell drove us to the airport in our car; Matthew stayed at
home. And so we were on our way. And on and on. We
arrived at LaGuardia and despite the jam of holiday weekend traffic,
got our luggage and piled out on the sidewalk to catch the transfer
bus to Kennedy. Having received three different pieces of
advice on getting complimentary transfer we ended up having to pay
since our tickets did not show transfer. As the man said,
the two dollars (but in this case it was $3.50 each).
It was hot (90°) in N.Y.
and we crept across Long Island. At JFK we hit every terminal.
By the time TWA hove into view, I was properly subdued. In the
terminal the crowds checking in were enormous and multilingual.
After much patient waiting, we did manage to reach the desk and
completed our check-in. Now [we are] sitting in the departure
lounge for gate three, waiting for the boarding call (about ten
minutes). I guess we are about on our way.
It turned out that Mila and I were together in adjacent
seats, but not next to each other; I was in the row behind her.
I shared a three-seat unit with two girls from California on their
first trip over to Europe—and they were EXCITED! Mila shared
with two lads on their way to Cairo to play at the Cairo Hilton.
One had never flown and they too were to be in Europe, etc. for the
first time. The companions were nice and one can't complain.
We arrived about three quarters of an hour late at
Charles de Gaulle Airport and stoically worked our way—in a mob
scene—through passport controls. Got our luggage, put it on a
cart, and just walked past customs, since we have nothing to
declare. We then made the round (for the main terminal is
circular in plan, and
Brutalist in appearance) to Air France to see
Barry was there. And she was.
We parked by Rosann and waited on the group flight
which eventually arrived. This larger group then transferred
to a bus (with no shock absorbers in the rear) and thence into the
city. Though this was technically Saturday, it seemed the
end of Friday rather than a new day. That began
with our first excursion out.
@ 10:00 AM with Steve attempting to operate unfamiliar car: cool &
overcast. Arrive & check in with no trouble—uneventful flight
to LaGuardia except for a "chatty Kathy" type who starts in aisle &
talks to couple on front of us. Had pretty good lunch—quiche,
vegs (zucchini, carrots, etc.), carrot cake with filling, cookie,
roll & butter, coffee, salad.
Arrive at LaGuardia—very hot (90°), horrible
mess trying to get to bus to Kennedy airport (one hour or more) in
closed bus—no air conditioning—had to drag all
luggage on bus with us—had to hold part of it in lap—bump, drag,
crash, etc. Equal long wait to get luggage put thru & get
boarding passes, of course! It is Memorial Day weekend & all
of NYC is leaving town & all of Europe & USA are leaving USA!
Had orange juice (70¢)—tiny can. Called home for
home—Liz answered. Called work for Jane—no answer.
Called Pat Snyder. Gone. Bob answered & said she'd gone
out of town to Long Island. Am now sitting in waiting
Plane late in taking off—I sit at end of row of three,
the other two seats occupied by Tony and Andy—teenage musicians (in
Naval ROTC), drums & bass—who are en route to Egypt to play jazz at
the Casino Hilton. It's like traveling with Wally & Beaver
(Andy's never flown before!). Geo sits with two American girls
on their first trip to Europe—all very jolly. I have a gin &
tonic, chicken fromage with white wine. We see Kramer vs.
Kramer. No sleep. See the dawn come up.
Passport control takes half hour—walk thru enormous transparent
bubble (pipes) in walking escalator to Air France over where we run
into Rosann & two others of SAH tour. We sit for hours waiting
for contingent from Air France flight. Soon we will board bus
to Hotel (Le Grand). One of my bags has tar on it, the other
is ripped (umbrella stuck thru its old age).
is deaf. (Glorioski!) He will give us a talk tonight.
By almost 12:00 about 25 people had assembled—great
delight to see old friends—and all of our luggage was
assembled into an enormous bus with apparently no shock absorbers
because we jounced & jolted all the way into the Opera district.
(I gather we get another bus tomorrow.)
SATURDAY, MAY 24, 1980
Group flight arrives 11 a.m. at Roissy (Charles de
Gaulle) Airport, Paris / (Persons on group flight will be provided
transportation from airport to hotel upon arrival in Paris) / FREE
DAY / 5:30 p.m.: Introductory Lecture / Overnight: Le Grand Hotel,
Professor and Mrs. G. Ehrlich were assigned to room 5207 Le Grand
Hotel. This looks over the great court and thus the sound of
the streets is much dampened. The room is no cheapie, though
small by U.S. standards. We have a double bed, two armchairs,
a straight chair with arms. The toilet is a true WC,
separate from the shower, bidet and washstand, and these open off a
small hall as does the bedroom. All have doors, hence one can
close off laving sounds, etc. We freshened up, changed clothes—it
is much cooler in Paris than N.Y.—and sallied forth. Our
primary aim was to find some food and to reconnoiter.
We were out during the long afternoon "break" from
commerce. Most shops were closed. But we did find a
patisserie that sold sandwiches. We had two
with paté that were modest in price,
good to taste (on real French bread) and something to eat while
walking. And we walked and walked. We did part of Rue de l'Opera, Rue Danielle
Casanova, Rue [des] Petits Champs, the latter to the Place
des Victoires. From there, north past [Place de] La Bourse to Les Grand
Boulevards: Montmartre, des Italiens, des Capucines and back to the
hotel for some rest.
The quality of the nineteenth century architecture is
superb. A lot of it is now cleaned, and I saw one unidentified
17th or 18th Century structure (it had to be late 17th) that was
truly grand. We saw the south facade of the Bibliothèque Nationale.
On Rue Réaumur just east of Rue Notre
Dame des Victoires we saw an
extraordinary riveted iron strapwork commercial(?) Art
Nouveau facade. It has to be early 20th Century because of the
Well, it is all stimulating and a bit much when one is
too much sleep aboard l'avion.
Now it is approaching the time to rendezvous for the
first official get-together for the group.
We have met, though not at length. We are
oriented (so to speak) and discover that we will be buying most of
our dinners as well as our lunches. Ah me! So we had a
supper in a so-so but convenient cafeteria with
Jack Parker and
Tom Ridington. They and Mila headed out to walk afterwards.
I feel fatigued and am listening to the news on TV.
As I sit in an armchair writing this, I am very
tired and thus little more will be said. A note, however, that
this room is rated at 530 francs per day, that is $132.50.
That includes continental breakfast of 28 f and service, but
whether it is 28 extra for another I don't know. When I
changed money at the airport,
it was 25¢ per franc. It would seem to me that would have to
be for two, but after checking again it says per person—$7!!
[continuing without a
break from previous entry, lacking a date heading]
room assignments. Ours is charming—apparently part of old
servants quarters under the mansard roof: two rooms, one whole
bathroom, plus extra room for the "toilette" tiled with light mauve
& white figured tile in circular pattern: tub, bidet, stool—windows
look out over courtyard; central hall, even the doors are papered in
floral wallpaper (gets confusing at night!). Bedroom has
double bed with brown/gold stripes, bolster & pillows—all feels soft
& goosedownish. Two side tables with lamps (mine has no bulb),
two armchairs with table. Dressing table & big mirror with TV
set. Bath has tub, big dressing table with bowl bidet.
We walk around area & buy two sandwiches stuffed with paté and
Have session with
Earl Layman showing slides with all
sorts of people smoking.
Lyle sits next to me & complains
about smoke (a sinus infection). We all doze off in the
darkness—everyone apparently. (Earl Layman's remarks & Rosann's remarks about behaving sensibly & not making political
remarks loudly.) Mercifully it ends & I who have had only one
donut (coffee, juice) & one sandwich all day am famished.
Tom, Jack, Geo & I go across street to cafeteria for
some rather awful fast-food stuff: "roast" chicken, pommes frites,
one section leaf lettuce & tomato, one lemonade, one tart for about
$8—is that really right? Geo goes back to hotel & boys & I
walk some more. Then struggle back at 8:30. I take bath
& try to sort things out but alas, it's too confusing. Go to
bed & sleep immediately. Geo is restless at 2:30 and we check
time. Finally to sleep.
SUNDAY, MAY 25, 1980
Continental breakfast: Le Grand Hotel / 8:30 a.m.—12
Noon: Bus tour to St. Denis [scored
followed by walking tour of le Marais, Place de
Vosges, Rue St. Antoine]
[handwritten arrow to what was
originally scheduled for 1:30—4:30 p.m.:] Bus from Le Grand to
Ile de la Cité, followed by walking tour of Notre Dame, Ste.
Chapelle, Conciergerie, Ile St. Louis / Lunch on own / [handwritten:
Afternoon free] / 8 p.m.: Grand Banquet: Le Cercle Militaire,
Place St. Augustin (participants to arrange own transportation) /
Overnight: Le Grand Hotel
It is late in the afternoon as I write this and this does not mean
the end of the day. There is still the Grand Banquet for the
evening to go to. Before entering the highlights of the day,
it might be appropriate to comment on the Grand Banquet. It
will be, apparently, haute cuisine in a period room. We've
already had to ante up another 10 francs per, though the major part
is included in the overall tariff for the tour. We learned of
that last evening at our initial assembly. We also learned, to
our dismay, that in addition to about a dozen we-pay-as-we-go
lunches, there will be that many (or more) dinners. Granted,
we are in a land of great cooking, but given the size of the tour
cost, I assumed that as with Greece, most evening meals were
included. WRONG! That has a double implication.
First, we need to find suitable places. Second, there is the
cost. Prices (for U.S. citizens) are high. It costs a
great deal to eat. It would be very easy to spend $10 to 15
per person for the evening meal, and a lot more. We could go
broke very quickly. And I'm not sure I want to—or
even can anymore—eat food that is too rich. So we begin to
improvise. More on that below.
To begin then. Sleep came quickly to us both, but
then, in the deepest of dark, I awoke being hot and uncomfortable.
After fussing as quietly as I could, I opened the window a bit
(happily we have a courtside room) and went as quietly as I could to
relieve myself. Nothing helped. Mila awoke—I then
checked the time—2:30 a.m. Well, back to sleep, or to try.
Finally a noise occurred: the wakeup call at 7:00 a.m.
Obviously we had gotten to sleep.
We leave a card for breakfast. Apparently I was
not clear in my notation and nothing was arriving as I had hoped and
requested. I braved the telephone and presto, we soon had our
continental breakfast. Orange juice, cafe au lait, and plenty
of rolls/croissants and butter and jam. We scarfed that down,
but saved two hard rolls plus some jam. That I packed in some
zip-loc bags to carry with us. Lunch perhaps or a supplement.
We assembled at the bus at 8:30 and soon thereafter
were off to St. Denis to see the abbey church. In the best of
manner there was the usual scaffold here and there and an unexpected
adjustment. An extra long high mass was being said for the
first communion for a group of girls. While it was quite
entertaining to see and hear the church in use (and it was quite
crowded with a working class group, with babes in arms) it/this
prevented us from being able to see le
musée of tombs and thus the
chevet area and crypt. We would
not benefit from a delay since another mass would soon begin.
So we did something completely different.
A half block away was the Sunday market in full
swing. Everything was going for sale, from clothing to
live critters such as rabbits and chickens. A number of us
purchased various goodies. Mila and I restricted our purchases
to four Golden Delicious apples. Others got other fruit, nuts,
and what else I know not. Thus fortified, we turned toward the
bus and then headed for
L'Ile de la Cité.
La Cité, as it is known, was also the honey that lured
other visitors that morning, and in great quantity. Patric,
our driver, managed to lose his way in and alongside Notre Dame's
flank (near flank) and we debarked. We walked around the apse (we were on the north side)
and along the south flank to the place in front. There
is a great construction underway, all in wood, ranging across the
front of the facade. Only a narrow lane separated the porch
from it. Red carpeting was being laid on the many stairs, etc.
It turns out that the Pope is coming! It will be the U.S. tour
all over again, with much hoopla if the temporary structure is any
indication. The size of the timbers was quite impressive.
We went first to
Ste. Chapelle. We arrived so we
could use our pass, only to find [the chapel] open (as apparently it is at
that time as a matter of course) and a line of people waiting to
enter. Our pass was rejected because it said musée, not
monument. A typical rhubarb based on lower functionaries not
understanding what higher functionaries mean. Presumably this
pass expressly allowed us entrance into both musées and monuments.
Tom Ridington came to our rescue. He inquired in French if
professors could not enter free? The answer was yes. So
out came IDs from those of us so equipped. The ticket taker
was not too swift and tried to comprehend what she was shown.
If it was official it was OK. Mila used my business card, one
used his senior citizen pass (with photo); I think anything
printed was acceptable because we all got in. (Later I learned
some had to pay.)
The windows in the upper chapel, which Michelin says
are the oldest in Paris (etc.), are carefully restored so as to
maintain character. From Sainte Chapelle we went to the top
(west/tail) of La Cité. From there one gets a good view of the
Louvre. It was there that Mila and I ate apples (one apiece).
We then proceeded toward Notre Dame. Oh, I forgot to note we
Place Dauphine on our way to Square du Vert Galant (the
This is somewhat still 17th Century in appearance.
Well, back to Notre Dame by Le Tour de L'Herbage.
We went through the Sunday bird market and the
Place du Parvis.
Since this now covers a garage recently built, considerable
archaeology had been possible in conjunction with its construction.
Old sites (medieval) are now outlined on the pavement indicating the
rue d'eglise. An interesting concept.
Notre Dame's interior,
as before, is less impressive
than the outside. Partly it is the darkness. Anyway,
from there we went to the Square d'Ile de France and saw but was
unable to visit the
Memorial de la Deportation. We sat in the
Square and ate one of our rolls.
We then decided to walk toward
Centre Georges Pompidou,
better known as the Beaubourg, since the Centre (the famous/infamous
modern structure) is on
Plateau Beaubourg. By this time Mila
and I were on our own, by choice, since others went to the Ile St.
Louis for walk and lunch. Pompidou Centre is, in fact, really
something. I'm not sure yet of my reaction, but it wasn't
really negative. More ambiguous. It works, Lord knows.
To add to the situation, Sundays are free days. But that is
only part of it. The plaza in front is the site of "street
entertainers" doing their thing for tossed coins. This last
was something both aural and visual. Given the topography of
the area. which slopes down to the Centre Pompidou in its inner
area, surrounded by a street level walkway on the other boundaries,
one has a natural "arena" for both ground level and elevated
viewing. The latter includes people on the exterior walkways
of the building.
The building is a boy's Erector Set dream come true.
Indeed, it is exaggerated but consistent. The west facade,
facing the Plateau Beaubourg, is the one always photographed, with
the exterior escalator. The elevators, also on the exterior,
do not have glass doors or walls, however; only the staircases and
escalator automatique. The east side is in line with other
facades, and that is, indeed, unbelievable. It has all these
pipes and vents, etc., in multiple colors, and being in line with
and at the same height as the conventional Parisian six-seven-story
facade, you have a startling image indeed.
Inside, where the industrial exhibits are, is a
science-technology construct. An indoor people-space.
The bibliotheque was in use but closed to us. The third and
fourth floors were open and in Modern Art (begins with Cubists and
Fauvres). The collection is good! A lot of American for
later stuff. The fifth floor is temporary exhibitions.
This still required admission on free days. We did not enter,
more a matter of time than money.
Oh yes, the cafeteria (expensive) is up there too.
A 7-Up type drink they called lemonade was 3 f (75¢)
per 8 oz?
From there we walked past the
Les Halles site which is
now called Porte Rambuteau. Still under construction, it is
apparently a combination transportation center and shopping center,
largely underground. If time permits we'll return.
We finally headed back into the hotel, it was nearly
five, or at least after four p.m. We had started at 8:30 a.m.
We rested and then at 7:30 we walked with others (all dressed up we
were) to this military club,
where we had a gala
and fancy dinner. The food was OK but messy to eat.
Elaborate service by young boys (late teens/early twenties).
Perhaps my taste buds are withering. I found it all OK but I
wasn't tempted to overeat. I tasted the wine, but I've lost
the taste for that. In fact I refused refills (I deliberately
requested a small portion first) so consistently I was nearly passed
over on a refill on my water glass.
Well, the grand affair was concluded and the
retreat back to the hotel began. It was 11:30 p.m. when
finally we were in our room. Our first full day was very full
rings at 7:00 for wake-up. Meal finally brought after we call
at 7:45. On bus 8:30, leave at 8:45 for Ste. Chapelle (also go
to open market & Ile St. Louis, Notre Dame). Have saved
breakfast rolls, buy apples. See concierge for arts, etc.
We shiver because it's quite cool, overcast & damp. See mass &
first communion at Ste. Chapelle—it's a working-class district, not
pretty, but interesting.
We eat apples & roll & set off alone at 2:00 for Centre
Georges Pompidou—"Beaubourg"—wild avant-garde building with pipes &
ducts outside—escalators are all in see-thru plastic tubes in arts
See modern art housed on one floor. Have lemonade on top
floor. Rather impressive, really, though the initial shock is
a bit staggering. Public seems to love it. Back to hotel
at 4:30 to rest, wash & prepare for the Grand Banquet at Les
Cercle Militaire, Place St. Augustin. (Big formal deal—perhaps
we can steal some food for the next day?) Prices are out of
sight & we have to not eat at all or use breakfast rolls & my "bird
food" (health stuff with raisins, etc.) to keep us going.
Two interesting experiences:
1) After Earl presented official documents to the
Guard (a black woman) in charge of Ste. Chapelle, she said no, we
could not be admitted free, since document admitted people to
"museums," not "monuments." (Here we go again.) Tom
interceded (charmingly), saying wouldn't our cards showing us to be
professors, artistes, etc. get us in? "Oh bon, bon," so we all
tried to drag out official-looking cards (I had none so I became
Professor of Art Ehrlich). Other people used voter
registration cards, senior citizen cards, architect cards, etc.
2) "Entertainment" of a street variety: sword
swallowers, muscle-man in chains, mimes. Huge crowds,
of course, surround them. Africans pounding on drums,
dancers & do-your-own-thingers—looked like scene from Hunchback
of Notre Dame.
British & Italian architects won competition for the
Centre, I suppose thus creating a big flap for not only design but
non-Frenchmen winning. All part of an overall redevelopment
project incorporating Les Halles district—including much underground
area: pedestrian concourse, antique center, private flats,
boutiques, etc.; twelve acres in all.
Musical Acoustic Centre (closed to public).
National Museum of Modern Art (we were in) all guards were young
girls, well-dressed, some attractive & reading paperback books &
not once looking up. You could have stolen a Picasso for all
Jack Parker is mistily reliving his student days here
in 1952—saw where his hotel was (Ile de Cité) where
Living Theatre fame) lived across street (before Jack lived
there, of course), where Simone Signoret lived/lives, where Chagall
has his studio (two whole floors). The Pope is to arrive next
week: great excitement—building steps (with red carpeting yet) &
viewing stand, pictures of the Pope in store windows—a whole
contingent of church people, including a cardinal getting photos (&
TV) taken in Notre Dame.
Walked over to Cercle National. Had "cocktails"
(ugh) cranberry juice & Dubonnet—terribly sweet. Mushroom,
olives, "spine" pie with crust. Roast duck with potato chips!
Lettuce. Choice of cheese (I had camembert). Glacé
(coffee & vanilla) frozen. Petits fours & café. Mineral
water, white wine, red wine.
The company: Jack, Tom, George,
Gary (& assorted dull
women) was terrific. The food was ostentatious and not so
good. Duck good but potato chips! Glacé good.
To bed at midnight.
MONDAY, MAY 26, 1980
Continental breakfast: Le Grand Hotel / [in
handwritten brackets: 9 a.m.—12 Noon: Walking tour, including
Louvre, Tuileries, and Left Bank] [handwritten:
in afternoon /
morning free] / Lunch on own /
1:30-4:30 p.m.: [scored
Metro to Montmartre
for walking tour] / 5:30 pm: Lecture on Mediaeval
[sic] architecture / Overnight: Le Grand Hotel
It has been a long day, a day filled with much walking and some
Metro-riding. As a consequence, seated now at past nine in the
evening, I was at a loss to recall where I had put this journal.
I was about ready to tell the hotel management that they should be
on the outlook for a small red book in which I was writing, when I
tried the bags again and found it. The Sunstream bag has a lot
of compartments indeed. Well, now I can begin to relate the
day's adventures, a day which also includes our twenty-fourth
The day began later than will be the norm, since we
were to have a free day in the morning. Mila and I toured
round the Opera. It is, on the exterior, an extraordinary and
extravagant building. The details are remarkable in their
complexity and variety. It is, as I said to some of our
fellows, "a statement."
As we completed the exterior tour, noting there was no
interior tours or anything going on, we ran into
Marian Davis, Blake
Katie Woodbridge and
Mary Carolyn George
(Gene George is ill). We decided to join forces and headed
toward St. Sulpice on the Left Bank. So into the Metro.
We made a detour so Mary Carolyn could see the house
where an artist she is working on lived. The artist is a
Texas-connected woman I must admit I know not, and the house is
clearly gone, a modern structure stands at the number.
From there to St. Sulpice. It is quite an
impressive structure, outside as well as in. I knew it from
pictures and they don't give the scale or the sense of volumes,
inside and out. The Delacroix murals in a chapel are OK but
not worth the trip in and of themselves, except as one might be on a
From St. Sulpice we headed toward the
Val de Grace via
the Luxembourg and its gardens. The latter were handsome as I
remembered them from
sixteen years ago, and this being a holiday
(Pentecost) it was filled with people. The Val de Grace is
much smaller than the severely classical St. Sulpice, and it is a
rich Jesuit-like, very Italianate structure with elaborate carvings
inside and out. I took a number of pictures, more aide de
memoire than for instructional purposes. Atmospheric photos
with people as well as buildings and views.
Well, we Metroed back to the hotel and ate the remainder
of our breakfast and our other apple for lunch then marshaled
ourselves for the afternoon tour of the Louvre exterior and the Left
Bank walking tour.
I'm sorry to say Earl Layman is not a good tour
guide; Marian Davis (our leader in the morning) is. I won't go
through the painful details except to say we walked and walked and
got strung out, etc. By the time we reached L'Ecole des Beaux
Arts, Mila and I decided to split and tour on our own. We
ambled toward her old haunts of 25 years earlier and found
From there she suggested we head toward the Rodin
Museum, and as we started off we ran into our companions of the
morning less Katie Woodbridge. So once again we joined forces.
We were instructed by Marian and saw numerous old facades, etc.
The 7th arrondisement is heavily 18th Century and some
earlier. There is, of course, a lot of 19th (and even 20th)
Century buildings. But the street patterns are still medieval,
and there are numerous courts within, to which facades face (as we
can see here and there).
One interesting thing is that there is a lot of Art
Nouveau of a form I was not up on. It isn't continental/Horta
stuff, nor Guimard, nor is it Mac[k]intosh. Rather, it is a bit
heavy, with some plastic treatment of the facade, a bit like a heavy
Rococo. There is floral work and swelling brackets etc.
I really must learn more about it. Some buildings are
original, early 20th Century before World War I. I don't
recognize the architects.
Well, we did end at the Rodin Museum and saw the
collection and the
Hotel Biron, the house which is late 18th
Century. The collection was interesting but familiar.
The gardens were interesting since they also served as a public park
with mommies and children sunning and playing.
We split with our companions after after being shoved
out at closing. We two walked (oh my poor feet) back to a
student-type restaurant across from L'Ecole des Beaux Arts. We
had a fixe-prix dinner, sharing long tables with others, and there
with our half-liter of wine we had potage, plat de poisson avec
mayonnaise, plus une pomme et fromage. And a lot of bread,
pain but not pain. Our anniversary meal. It was
notable. It is in the tourist guides, but no quarter is given
them. And there were "students" much in evidence.
From there is was to Blvd. St. Germain to take the
Metro back "home." And now it is near bed time, an hour after
Near the Metro stop, by the church of
St. Germain des
Pres, more street entertainers. One was playing the flute to
the accompaniment of a stereo-cassette player providing a full
Today is Pentecost which really means it's a major holiday & almost
everything is closed—including cafes, WCs, drugstores, not
to mention some museums. This wasn't too bad because it was a
lovely sunny day—not to mention our anniversary—but when one is
desperate to eat, it's not so amusing.
Started out with a later breakfast that usual (we can't
seem to get that going somehow) & left hotel about 9:00.
Walked around Opera (closed, of course). Coming down steps ran
into Mitch, Marian, Katie, Blake & Mary Carolyn (Gene George is
under the weather) who were venturing out, so we joined them.
Got into Metro & went to San
Sulpice, Val de Grace & Luxembourg Gardens with all of the children,
mommies, dogs, etc. running around. Perfectly lovely time with
few if any people in churches & nice, knowledgeable companions—had to
rush back by Metro for 1:30 tour. Pepsi in Metro, apples and
two rolls in room. Downstairs we found out we were to walk
to Louvre—it was very disorganized & noninformative. The group
kept splitting up, couldn't hear Earl, so Geo & I left the tour on
Left Bank & went on our own up & down St. Germain. Saw my old
"fleabag," the Fleurys Hotel on Rue du Bac, & Geo took photo of it.
On way to Rodin Museum ran into Marian, Blake, Mitch &
Mary Carolyn. Had a citron ice-bar & looked around at monuments
& embassies—very nice time. Went to Rodin Museum which was
interesting & gardens even better with little children & ducklings &
ponds & roses. Stayed until 5:45 when guards ran us out.
Walked some distance to restaurant at 6:15 which was closed (the
help was eating). Went & sat down at Seine bankside & watched
boats, barges & dogs. Back to restaurant—the Beaux Arts on Rue
Sebastopol—price fixe for 25 f had potage, fish with boiled
potato, fromage & bottle of white wine. Went home just before
9:00, washed hair & tried to restore feet to some semblance of
order—retired romantically about 11:00.
TUESDAY, MAY 27, 1980
George made no
further handwritten corrections to the "Tentative Tour
Schedule" except for one on June 10th; but Mila Jean would
begin annotating her copy on June 3rd]
Continental breakfast: Le Grand Hotel /
8:30 a.m.: All-day bus tour to Chartres /
Participants to take (or buy in Chartres) food for own picnic lunch / Overnight: Le Grand Hotel
Breakfast, this time, was on time, and our routine is becoming
established. Fortunately the hotel room/area is quiet (but
over-warm to my taste), and I managed a decent rest. We were
on [the] bus at 8:30 en route pour Chartres. As noted earlier,
Earl Layman is not a tour guide. He says nothing. While
a "chatty cathy" would be a bore, there are some obvious things to
tell people. He is, perhaps, intimidated by some of the
knowledgeable ones, but I doubt that is the case.
Well, we arrive at Chartres having left in rain and
finding grey skies there. La Cathédrale loomed up as it
is supposed to, and this time was more impressive
than I remembered
it to be. We hauled in at an hour that would give us about
five hours to explore the cathedral and the old town at our
First inside. It is everything and more than one
remembers it to be. Indeed, with no concerns about touring en
groupe we have a sense of adventure and discovery. In this
aspect I like the low-key Layman approach. As our eyes became
accustomed to the light, and it takes about half an hour, one
received the full impact of the proportions of the church. It
is proportionally quite wide and that has an important effect.
Blake Alexander feels it is the
arch arrises that carry all the way
down the piers that give one a sense of relating to the upper
spaces. Perhaps it is the light, modulated by the windows.
The windows themselves are, of course, very impressive. They
are also hard to read—even
impossible. Perhaps they are the heavenly host hovering.
You know they are there, but that is all one can say.
We exited to buy some picnic
and several of us ate by the cathédrale. We then
were going to set out to see some of the city. I turned back
to a bookstore I'd seen on our way to the
cathédrale to get a good guide to France, only to arrive as
it closed for lunch. I then decided to walk around the
exterior of the cathédrale, and lo
and behold another bookstore across from the south porch, open.
I got the Guide Bleu France, 1980 (Hachette) and now feel I can cope
with further travels. I used the plan de ville Chartres to
guide us into curious medieval byways, including the pedestrian
streets with steps to manage the grade differentials. We
visited St. Aignan, a curious wood vaulted pastiche with interior
polychromy, and St. Pierre, where we were the only visitors.
Numerous striking views and the like to impress one. In the
process it began to rain, but we took shelter, finally, under the
south porch of the cathédrale.
Mila and I have rain gear, but others didn't.
At 2 p.m. a number of us climbed the tower and did the
walk by the roof gutter. Being up at that level has its
problems, as did climbing the spiral staircase. But at least I
did it and gained some new insights concerning architecture, gothic
churches, and me.
Afterward, back in Paris, the Greek crowd, eleven of
the fourteen on this tour, journeyed to the Left Bank in search of a
restaurant. We ended, instead, on St. Germain Blvd. at La Belle
Époque. It was medium-priced for each by the time we got
through (80 f each). We then walked back, through the
Louvre, having crossed Pont Carousel.
We are slowly getting to know some of our traveling
companions. So far our boon associates are the old Greek tour
folk, Marian Davis, Blake Alexander, Mitch, Tom, Mary Carolyn and
Gene (who are now married),
Gary, Katie and Jack.
Abruptly awakened by phone at 6:20—stumbled around making
toilettes—breakfast promptly at 7:00, out to bus in rain at 8:15
with dire predictions of a truck slowdown that came true on the way
back. Nice ride to Chartres alternating looking at countryside
and reading Jack Parker's
written reminiscences of China visit in December. Got to spend
five hours in not only touring the Cathedral, but in prowling the
little town. Cathedral dark, Gothic, with extraordinarily
beautiful stained glass windows which we looked at thru the opera
glasses. There were tons of tourists, especially notably
British teenage school children (very cheeky &
& hordes of well organized Germans. Went out at 11:30-12:00
with Gary [&] Mitch to buy cheese, fruit, etc. each in individual
little shops—quite charming. Bought Granny Smith apples, Emmenthal cheese (we had rolls from breakfast). Mitch bought a
half a chicken! Gorgeous slice of paté (I got some) & a whole
bottle of mineral water. Lovely sweets but we didn't succumb.
Ate on benches with Lyle—other couple shared their Brie—watching
tourists & giggling. Went on wonderful tour of backwoods
Chartres—little corrals (saw dead bat on one bridge), two ancient
churches with NO one in them, public latrines for the
"necessaries." It got darker & darker & finally let loose with
steady rain up to 2:00 when we ran up to church enclosure.
Paid 3 f to climb many steps inside spiral staircase up to roof
level to walk around—Jack almost had a heart attack & Mitch kept
moaning all of the way up—everyone up there were SAH'rs—it had
stopped raining & [there] was quite a nice, dewy look about the
Went back down into cathedral & looked at window(s).
bus, buying coffee glacé bars. Drive back, most people slept
except during colossal traffic jam due to truck slowdown.
Decided to meet at 7:00 (about an hour late) for dinner
(a reunion of the Greek Gang). Eleven (11!) showed up: Marian
& Blake, Mitch, Gene & Mary Carolyn, Geo & me, Jack, Gary, Tom, Katie.
The trip in the Metro to the Left Bank was exciting with the door
closing on Gene, me throwing myself into the closure. Started
to rain hard. Ran. The restaurant, the
(142 Blvd. St. Germaine) or Le Grand Epoque was gorgeous, turn of
century, Art Nouveau, almost empty when we arrived (eventually to be
filled in by horde of Danes?).
Beautiful mirrors, service, tilework. Had fish wrapped in foil
(Jack called it a "silverfish") with small new potatoes, had
sorbet framboise (raspberry sherbet) for dessert (Mitch had to filet my
fish). Walked back to hotel.
Picture Postcard of
Chartres Cathedral addressed to Matthew in KCMO, written by
Yes, we made the crossing OK and were immediately into
perambulating activities that have added numerous kilometers to my
pedometer. I'm glad I don't really have one, I'd be depressed
by the knowledge of how much of Paris (and today Chartres) I've
covered with your Mother being enthusiastic about almost everything—including
the foot-dragging husband. On that note, my feet are holding
up—gout is at bay—and my spirits are high seeing so much. And
it has only begun, since this was only the third full day. Our
anniversary dinner was in a student restaurant on the left bank,
elbow to elbow with others at "family tables." Ah me!
Today was especially a good day at Chartres, and if you look at the
other side, at the line where the green roof begins, Mom and I were
up there walking along the parapet on the other side. Hang in
there, we're hanging in here and hard at it. While we're
writing to others, you might call in case cards are delayed. /
Love, Dad and Mom
WEDNESDAY, MAY 28, 1980
Continental breakfast: Le Grand Hotel / 7 a.m.:
Luggage in halls / 8 a.m.: Bus departs for Poitiers / Own picnic
lunch en route / Afternoon walking tour of Poitiers with
historians from the University of Poitiers / 7 p.m.: Dinner: Hotel
de France, Poitiers / Overnight: Hotel de France, Poitiers
En route pour Poitiers. We took off early enough,
though we were delayed by a missing
Ben Schneider, and
from Seattle who had some sort of nervous/chemical affliction that
had equivalent symptoms of food poisoning. He rode in the onboard
WC for nearly an hour. We passed through incredibly
manicured rural-agricultural lands with little villages of farmers
to the side, and occasionally a city near the freeway. As we
reached the Loire Valley, one could see the current prosperity of
this largely agricultural land and visualize its attractiveness in
medieval times. It had to be [attractive], come to think of it, given the
rise of Romanesque architecture there. We saw large silhouette
signs of the various famous chateaux, giving advance warning of later
signs indicating turnoffs to them. We, alas, had no time to
Speaking of signs, we see none, or virtually none,
advertising (other than for gas stations on the freeway). Off
freeway a very occasional small one. Also, virtually no
litter; really none for American experienced eyes. It goes
with the disciplined fields, gardens, etc. I wonder if this is
regional or national?
We did see some modest, later chateaux from our
speeding bus. And speaking of the bus, it is worth noting
that the no smoking sign seems to work on almost all who smoke about
all the time. And, as far as I can tell, there is very little
smoking among the group. Of the Greek Gang, only Rosann, Jack
Parker and Mitch smoke. Of the new acquaintances, very few do.
Also speaking of the bus, we have an onboard WC that
is a great advantage, except when the water pump switch for the wash
basin went berserk. It necessitated a stop at a parking (that
is the word widely used along the highway instead of stationment)
area and Patric had to do an emergency repair. The whine of
the two pumps (basin and stool) are our occasional music.
As we passed by close and above downtown Tours we saw
unusual cathédrale but little else of note. But
then we were heading for Poitiers, our principal target. We
arrived between 11:30 and 11:45 at the
[de] France. Directly
across the street is a
charcuterie, and someone spilled out of the
bus and into it to inform the proprietor that many of us would buy
our lunch there. She [the proprietor] held open past the 11:45
hour. We had been watching a very tiny lad try to sweep the
sidewalk and a lady from the charcuterie supervising.
It was this that led some to surmise she was about to close.
We were waiting to debark after Rosann had gotten room assignments
squared. I whipped in and got two different pastries[?],
one with a thin slice of ham, the other with mushrooms plus (? what)
[sic]. Our extra
breakfast rolls had vanished into our systems en route. This
repast with water we had in our room.
The room is small, in the old section, and the twin
beds plus the wardrobe, chairs, etc. make it very crowded. We
have a decent bain privée with a frosted glass door, but
separated from the room proper by a bedroom door (as in Paris).
That enables one to use the facility at night without serious
disruption for others. Price listed is 200 f with
15 f each.
Once "fed," we did a bit of sightseeing on our own and
soon returned to the hotel to be led by a visiting doctoral
candidate of the University of Oregon to the Medieval Center at the
University of Poitiers. There we met in a lecture room I later
learned was in a 15th Century building. The screens and
blackboard are where once the fireplace and chimney were located.
We sat at metal tables, with individual chairs, and for each place
there was a shielded low-intensity light. The room, very high
ceilinged, had [a] screen (double projection) above, [and a] lighted
(shielded) blackboard below. There was a lecturer's platform
and desk, map rack to the side, and a portable lighted lectern in
front, at the end of the aisle between the two rows of tables.
At the rear was a high platform with two 2x2 automatic cartridge Leitz
[slide] projectors; two manual 3x4 plus opaque projectors by a German
manufacturer. Quite a setup, since two different voltages
Professor Pon, a historian, read/gave a lecture on
medieval Poitiers. I now have a confirmed stereotypical image
of the French lecture, complete with small notepaper, out-of-focus
slides, etc. Our tired group dozed off, though he [Pon] did have a
lot to say and did it in tolerable English. The only problem
was that at times it sounded French. The reverse, no doubt, of
my reading aloud (or trying to) French. The Oregon lad was our
guide and translator as needed.
After this was done,
Madame Camus, an art historian,
guided us through Notre Dame la Grande and the Cathédrale.
She spoke in French (though she knows a fair amount of English) and
Oregon translated in a rather abbreviated manner. I know, not
only because the difference in the length of the speeches, but
because I was able to follow a good deal of it. I was really
understanding her clear, logical and expressive commentary.
She is, for me, a charmer.
Notre Dame la Grande is much smaller than I expected,
and weathering on the facade sculpture is bad, especially in the
lower level. It is an interesting but problematic building.
The curious truncated crossing is a case in point. The choir
is quite interesting with its ghostly fresco. One senses the
tentativeness of the solutions to the structional problems. I
must do some reading when I get home on all of this.
Then over to the cathédrale. It is a
strange pile; all sorts of Romanesque elements, though basically
Gothic. It has a
ribbed domical octite[?]
vaulting. It also has the
oldest large-scale stained glass in
France (though only a few windows). But then came the unusual
treat. We got to go up on the vaults themselves.
Up a spiral staircase and into a side aisle by the choir; then into
the choir, then into the higher nave. A strange experience.
They are restoring the trusses of the roof and the roof itself, and
one can see the old (last restoration was 18th Century, I
understood) and the new timbers replicating the old. It is
like a wood roof supported by arcaded stone walls (over the
columns). The dust and such up there was much; but the
experience was worth the trial (and later
I should add, earlier we saw another strange two-aisle
Romanesque church, that of
St. Porchaire. It, by the way,
opens onto a medieval street that is now returned to its pedestrian
origins, but modernized to suit contemporary facades. It does
provide lessons in such. By the way, no food places
etc. Only shops, including at least three bookstores.
One had my newly acquired Guide Bleu for 98.50 f vs.
122 f, about $6 difference. The medieval street pattern
in old town remains very much in evidence, including widths.
We returned to the hotel for a quick wash up and dinner
in a group—finally.
Food so-so. Then off (by bus this time) to the lecture room
for a champagne etc. reception with faculty members of the Medieval
Center. A strange experience. Too much goodies for
us—all of us bone-tired—and we were not overly involved. I did
talk haltingly in both French and English with Madame Camus.
There was champagne, Scotch, Perrier, orange juice, Cognac and
Armagnac. Little pastry things, and cigarettes (American) in
opened packages, and small cigars (Havana). We were
paying for this, but apparently with a return on unopened bottles.
I was all too ready to totter in to my bed.
And since my toe began to ache, I began the
What else will happen?
Wake up at 6:15, breakfast at 7:00. Supposed to leave at 8:00.
Will we? What about truck slowdown? Will we get out of
town? Uneventful packing, but sure enough a late start!
Dr. Ben had disappeared (presumably sightseeing) & didn't appear
until 8:00, also Ken MacInnes had "food poisoning"?! & they couldn't
decide whether to leave him or take him along. They did the
latter but he heaved in the john until halfway to Poitiers.
Poor fellow, locked in box. Finally WC rebelled, sending out
shrieks of complaint. Had to stop bus (after some of us tried
fixing it at "rest" stop (unfinished) & a lot of us piled out to
"go" in back, which poor Patric was repairing the fuse—much
hilarity. It was cold. Got to Poitiers about
12:30-45. Outside the hotel was a little charcuterie where we
where we bought goodies—staggered upstairs to "room" with luggage.
Went out exploring in slight rain thru streets filled with
students and motorbikes on the "pedestrian mall"—went in old church.
Kept running into people we knew (ate café bars). Ran back to
hotel to meet group, only to find we were going back to same place
we'd been & beyond! Excruciatingly boring & tedious lecture by
M. Pon, lecturer at U of Poitiers. He was introduced by Mr.
Deal, a young PhD exchange student from U of Oregon. M. Pon
said "My English is out of tune." We saw slides reversed—a
lighted pointer that didn't work—funny pronunciation "rue"
(reminiscent of Peter Sellers) history of architecture. We all
nodded & restrained our naturally ribald giggles. Went on with
woman lecturer, a Mme Camus (blonde with chic grey suit with
wine-colored high heels) to churches—very thorough
description of everything in French interpreted by Mr. Deal (who was
young, mustached). Some people thought it was tedious; we
found it interesting, especially germane outside of ancient
Romanesque church with all of the figures explained laboriously.
Went on at 5:45 (!) to Cathedral for same thing, including an
incredible climb to the vaults?! Stairs filled with pigeon
guano & skeletal remains of dead pigeons & bats crunching underfoot.
It was dusty & filled with feathers—interesting though.
Ran back to hotel at 7:15 to dress (complete
from top to bottom) for dinner and reception afterward. To
me the meal was good:
salade nicoise, roast pork & mashed potatoes, not very good ice cream. Went on
to reception at very cold university. Formal address by
some official representing the President, expressing in French his
sentiments. We drank much champagne, sweet cookies, and
finally brandy (SAH members took rest of bottles home). Rather
hysterical leavetaking & arrival at hotel. Wild dreams
THURSDAY, MAY 29, 1980
Continental breakfast: Hotel de France / 8 a.m.:
Bus departs for Angoulême and
Périgueux / Own picnic lunch en route /
description of afternoon activity]
/ 7 p.m.: Dinner: Hotel de France / Overnight: Hotel
Today was early rise and shine to take the bus to
attempt] Périgueux (there!). It was raining when we
awoke, and it did on and off thereafter, including a real gully
washer at Périgueux, and another earlier at
The latter was our first port of call, and it is, in
fact, an acropolis insofar as the old city is concerned. We
exited, finally, by the cathédrale, St. Pierre.
After studying the inside, which is impressive, and the exterior,
which is so crisp after the restoration of the 19th Century it
doesn't look old, we began an exterior tour of the upper city by
walking the ramparts. But first we headed for Les Halles,
which I saw on the way to the church. The market hall looked
19th Century, iron and glass, and was in full swing. We bought
bread, apples and cheese. From there we walked the ramparts.
The views are striking and one can sense how this spot, so
defensible, was selected as a city. St. Pierre is right by the
ramparts. We also saw the Hotel de Ville with its two old
towers, 13th and 15th Centuries, and the theatre (exterior).
The latter was rather nice but we had no date on it. It might
have been later 18th Century.
From there we hurried on to
Périgueux. St. Front
is heavily restored, and totally disoriented inside. St. Pierre
with its domes is still a church with an axial presentation.
St. Front, with a Greek cross, and entered from a transept, is
confusing. An altar (modern) is at the crossing, and chairs
face it from all four sides. There are other altars, and these
have chairs facing them. The west front is not an entrance.
Restoration still goes on as it does for large portions
of the old city around it. That is nice to see. All "old
towns" are not necessarily that much to look at, but with a bit of
care and maintenance, with some restoration, a great deal can be
done. One annoying thing was extensive noise pollution in the
old area, loudspeakers substituting for "barkers" urging that
attention be paid. That was totally annoying to me.
Then soon it was time to return, and the long drive
began. All told, we were gone eleven hours from the hotel.
We were in truffle and foie gras country, and there is much
marketing of local products. Paté are everywhere, and featured
in charcuteries. Our
dinner (yes, another one) in the hotel
had soup, paté, chicken and a slice of a large tart. Lord, I
wish we had more fruit and vegetables!
In retrospect, the domed churches are a curious
manifestation of the search for structural solutions to large
churches. They are interesting, but clearly they don't give an
adequate spacial treatment, through
too bad. The 19th Century restorations are hard to discuss as to
when they start and end. It is often new materials substituted
for old and stuccoing over the old, etc. A problem.
I won't be sorry to leave the Hotel France in Poitiers,
though I'd like to explore Poitiers more, as I would other of the
old cities. It isn't just the matter of the plans or the
oldest buildings, but the way various generations and styles of
buildings coexist. Rarely does a modern structure fit in.
The better 19th [Century] and even Art Nouveau (French heavy style)
does. There are lessons in that. Also, there are lessons
in how space is used, and how courtyards open up otherwise tight,
Oh yes, we stopped at
Brantome briefly on the way back;
Wake up at 6:15, breakfast at 7:00, out at 8:10 in rain!
Angoulême—more "rugged country" (note: one of the strangest
sights yesterday was Dr. Ben in his impeccable business suit,
scrambling over guano-crusted scaffolding). Off reasonably on
time after running across street to get mushroom quiche.
Raining in Angoulême—see cathedral, walk in rain to
City Market—an incredible experience—beautiful displays of fruits,
vegs, flowers, bread, meat (whole lamb's heads), each place
had a bouquet of flowers on counter. Bought bread, cheese,
apples (later ate in bus). See
beautiful theatre there.
On to Périgueux—hard
rain, squall, hail, twisty road at breakneck pace, driver seems to
be outdoing himself—get to feeling nauseated—take Dramamine, which
makes whole town experience seem dreamlike.
Stop several times by river to take shots of almost
19th Century Romantic views—really slows us up. We don't get
back until 7:10! (Dinner at 7:30.) Rush up & change.
Dinner: veg soup, paté, roast chicken with new potatoes, sweet
tart with Jack Parker. Have brandy in lobby with "Greek"
FRIDAY, MAY 30, 1980
Continental breakfast: Hotel de France / 7 a.m.:
Luggage in halls / 8 a.m.:
Bus departs for Toulouse, via
Limoges and Cahors / Own picnic lunch en route /
description of afternoon activity or dinner]
/ Overnight: Hotel
Frantel Wilson, Toulouse
Once again, up and at 'em early. We have luggage in the halls
by 7:00 and we are ready to depart at 8:00. It is a long ride
to Toulouse, and through rugged country.
We begin by going to
St. Savin, a very early Romanesque
church with a simple barrel vault and remnants of the original
frescoes (other paintings of a decorative nature restored). A
striking building. Pseudo Corinthian columns in the choir.
Rather thick coarse plaster (stucco) on walls. etc. I wonder
if that replicates original interior finishes?
After St. Savin, it is a rugged drive. We go up
and up, and then down into valleys. Many curves. It is
like being on a ship on a stormy sea instead of a bus. We are
in sheep and cattle country, mostly sheep. In St. Savin I
bought a baguette (bread) before boarding the bus. That plus
apples and cheese left from yesterday will be lunch.
It is interesting to see changes in rural and village
architecture. Towers (dovecotes?)
appear; roof slopes change.
We stop in Brive, at a park, to picnic. Nearby is
a Chalet de Necessité, 1
f. They even give
receipts. At least a colleague shows
We reach Cahors. A curious city. We are in
the old town, a sort of peninsula flanked on three sides by an oxbow
bend of a river. We see the Cathédrale, a
peculiar church with domes and what all. It really doesn't
illuminate except perhaps Muslim influences. A portion of the
church was screened off with a plastic curtain; restorations going
We wandered by the river and the old medieval streets,
than back to the bus. Men were playing a form of
We are nearing the Mediterranean and this must be some influence.
Then on to Toulouse, a large city. We are in the
heart of the older town. The hotel is tres moderne
inside, but curious in its appointments. Mila and I strike out
to seek food. We had seen a cafeteria near the hotel as the
bus came in for a landing. Lo and behold, it was open and we
had choices (so to speak). We had fish, I with spinach, she
with rice (which we shared), and a nice bottle of house rosé
and she a yogurt. There was water, etc. The whole thing
was (for France) modest, a bit over 23 f. One could even hot
things with a microwave oven! We need to keep that in mind for
later. It is very near the hotel.
Then from there to
St. Sernin. While it was
closed (inside) when we got there, and restoration was in evidence,
the exterior radiated in the late sunlight. It was really
impressive. It has a lot of brick which is red, and in
combination with the stone it is "colorful" somehow. It is big
and proud. I was impressed.
From there to the
Capitolium, to arrive as a military
band was assembling in the plaza. Then costumed people, in
dress. Needless to say, Mila and I stayed to watch. We
thought it was for some sort of festival for which we saw a posted
sign (and earlier people with kids heading for). But no, it
was some sort of awards ceremony in the old court of the Hotel de
Ville. What it was I know not, but there was a broaching of a
cask of wine (by the mayor!) and a cake, and a spray of flowers for
the winner(?) ,
a young girl. Was it some sort of competition of folk dancers
and such, and one group had won the prize? Before the goodies,
one group danced. The military band played on for
But soon we really had to get back, unpack, do laundry,
bring the journal up to date, and sleep. Tomorrow is
Early call. On to Toulouse via (Limoges) Cahors. A long,
long drive. In bus with some short stops for ten hours.
We all got punchy & the WC's sink started acting up—shrieking again
toward the end of the trip. The bus is alternatingly cold
(with air conditioning blowing in our ears or on legs) or hot with
sun streaming in. The bus has blinds, though, & Patric obliges
us. He's even beginning to joke a bit—playing his tapes, etc.
We have some leftover cheese, bread Geo bought in an
outdoor market, apples, a few shreds of Mitch's half-chicken &
Rosann's leftover cookies out in a beautiful park somewhere in SW
France. Sat on bench with Mitch, Jack, Gary, Lyle. Saw a
beautiful cathedral that Marian recommended seeing—all with interior
painted domes & pillars called _________
[sic] It's exquisite—all
faded earth colors, pinkish marbleish—with vases of pink carnations
& white lilies. Glad we stopped.
I could have lived without Cahors though it was great
to get off the bus so late, but people tend to disappear, not only
to photograph but to buy ice cream, beer & whatnot. The
from New Orleans opposite us have enough food to feed an army: beer,
two flutes of bread, three huge chunks of cheese, meat,
cherries—they are both "plump" and no wonder!
Driving into Toulouse is a real thrill during 6 o'clock
rush hour, traffic jams, etc. but the check in to the hotel was
easy & the wait was worth it, after the last two nights in a rather
Hotel Frantel-Wilson, Toulouse.
What a surprise! Sort of Art Deco: entry hall—walls covered
with cocoa-colored fuzzy fabric. One tasteful print "Musée des
Augustins"—Toulouse cubists exhibition poster. Luggage
rack—desk—two bedside tables, white moderne. Small white
direction lights on either side of bed. Grey headboard with
separate radio panels, white and blue fuzzy Irish bedspread,
cocoa-colored wall-to-wall carpeting, central air, white translucent
drapes with red/white/black almost a
modern lamp with square white shade—color TV. Bathroom
unbelievable—grey bidet, toilet (with white wood ashtray by it),
sink, tub. It has perfume for man & lady, and toothpaste.
It's probably more schlocky & pseudo-modern & non-sound-absorbent &
on the street, but it's clean & fun for three nights!
Unpacked almost everything. Should be interesting
repacking. Went out for a wonderfully cheap meal (23 f for
two!) at a beautiful cafeteria,
Flunch: chicken, rice,
spinach, lemon yogurt, & a little bottle of wine.
Walked around—looked at church from outside, and ran
into wonderful folk festival complete with band of army reserves?
Hundreds of people in folk costumes, the mayor?
[sic] & his wife
& observers witnessing some kind of ceremony awarding prizes?!
of people laughing—one group danced—band played loudly,
including drum & bugle corps. Back to hotel 9:30, washed
undies & caught up on journal.
SATURDAY, MAY 31, 1980
Continental breakfast: Hotel Frantel Wilson / 8:30 a.m.:
Bus departs for Carcassonne
via Cordes / Lunch on own in Carcassonne /
description of afternoon activity or dinner]
/ Overnight: Hotel
Frantel Wilson, Toulouse
A number of us descend to the breakfast room only to discover we
should have ordered breakfast served in the room. It isn't
worth sorting out the confusion, and I was trying my best to explain
we were not the groupe touristes who were gathering
and getting ready to leave at eight, we were part of a groupe
touristes of La Societé
Some were having petit déjeuner
continental dans ses chambres, etc. Tomorrow in the room,
despite having only one chair.
It was raining a bit today, but we were nearly all hot
to trot/ride. Two or three stayed back (why I don't know), but
that is their business. And off we went. We approached
the medieval city called
La Cité shrouded in mist and clouds. Carcassonne may be elaborately restored, much more so than than is
Monemvasia in Greece, but it had much the same flavor. Many
souvenir shops (mostly junk as far as I could see) and restaurants.
There was a bit of confusion, and Earl decided to
lecture us as we stood outside (instead of during the nearly
two-hour drive there). Earl is, as I've said, not really a
guide. I have no quarrel with what he is showing us, but he
could do more with the interior details of the trip. I'll
write a separate commentary on that.
Carcassonne in the rain, and then under scudding
clouds, then under sun and clouds, and then repeat. The wind
was blowing up a
fierce gale that damn near sent us off the
ramparts. It did my chronic
catarrh no good at
all. (I note my spelling is disintegrating under the bilingual
assault.) But it was picturesque. The outer works,
rather than the inner buildings, are the truly picturesque views.
It is something of a challenge to try to decide what is "original"
and what is restoration. Since there are, in fact, levels of
"original" stuff, one is indeed challenged. I will need to
read on Viollet le Duc when I get home. Perhaps I shall find a
book in Paris before we leave.
Mila and I had omelettes for lunch with tea.
I made numerous photos, and perhaps some of the quality of the place
is captured. Before leaving, we visited the cemetery and saw
what is perhaps a regional type, but so different from the U.S.,
even the old ones. The family tombs in streets are really
rather ancient in feeling, the sense of a necropolis. We, on
the other hand, have our individual
plots—suburbia—rather than the congested family tenements. It
might be worth making an observation on this in greater length at a
On our way back to Toulouse, we stopped briefly at
Avignonet. Presumably this was to make photos. Other
than the church tower, there wasn't much. Then back into
Toulouse at the height of the traffic. It did give me a chance
to look at Toulouse along some new streets. As a largely brick
city (red, and rather Roman brick in shape) one is struck by how
different it is from the more northern cities we've seen so far.
It reminds Mila and me of
in its flavor (when the latter was compared to Athens).
Toulouse is #4 in size in
France, and it has a different flavor. Much of the older brick
is very soft, poorly fired and disintegrating. The petrol
pollution doesn't help.
We leaped from the bus on arrival, and headed for St.
Sernin. It was a jam of people to get through but it was worth
it. The exterior was solemn and majestic in its salmon-colored
brick over pierre, but the interior surprised me. Restoration
is underway, and the inside has been cleaned, I guess, and is quite
light, as if whitewashed and then washed again. I wasn't
prepared for the amount of brick inside. It is hard to
estimate, but clearly the vast majority of the fabric is brick.
The transverse ribs are brick. Most of the light in the nave
at this hour, late afternoon, came through the west window, despite
a large organ that obscured much of it. Some [light] enters gallery
windows (not accessible). It was, being cleaned, not as dark
as it seems in photos, and there is interaction with the aisles.
The glare of the light from the apse windows makes it hard to see
the apse. That is part of the problem. There are a few
minuscule windows at the crossing, peeping through the panels
between the ribs that cross in that space, but they do little.
The tower is not a lantern, and it appears that these
southern towers at crossings are not. The choir and the
ambulatory were closed. Nevertheless, one can see something of
the spaces (as at St. Denis). Some frescoes were in evidence.
Altogether a most satisfying experience.
Afterwards we had oranges, purchased in Cahors. Sitting on a
very ancient, decrepit bench on the north side of the cathedral, in
From there we went to the
Jacobin, a brick two-aisle
Gothic church built for Dominicans in the 13th and 14th Centuries.
Extensively restored inside and out, though the attached buildings
are largely gone, it is a surprising space. The two-aisle plan
(we saw a Romanesque one is Poitiers) is a strange experience.
There is a very new cloister, though not overly fancy. It was
a serene way to conclude the looking of the day.
We returned to the hotel and rested for awhile.
We then went to "our" cafeteria again: Flunch. We had
small hamburger steak (virtually uncooked) and got boiled potatoes
and mixed vegs which we shared with each other. I heated mine
1½ times in the microwave, but the
meat was still red. But it was satisfying and cheap. By
the time we added a pitcher of wine and a
Yoplait au lait avec
fraises we paid 24.10 f or about $6 for the two of us. A
lot cheaper than Carcasssonne.
I have severe catarrh, which is compounded by the
cautious liquid intake during the day and the wind today. I am
well otherwise, though I still am on (half ration now) Clinoril for a
toe that says I should keep remembering it. But I [am] ready
to go on to new adventures.
Slept hard. Difficult to wake up. Staggered to breakfast
room to find four of our party unable to make people realize what
we were there for—Geo interceded. It was frustratingly slow &
we're going to try room service tomorrow. Some members of our
group are beginning to get me down (ninth day syndrome?). Bus
chaos with Patric trying to explain that the WC had no water, due to
yesterday's breakdown. We end up opposite WC in a terrible
draft. It is (guess what?) raining & cold. We are on our
way to Carcassonne—arrive & begin to notice terrific wind.
Dreadful delays while Earl tries to get official papers cleared.
Geo & I begin to cut out for cathedral alone. Only join group
once & it is part of a huge group with guide giving lecture in
French! Do everything alone, eat lovely omelette
(cheese) with another couple with hot tea (tay). Geo's throat
is beginning to bother him due to extremely high (40 knots?) wind &
blowing dust, especially up high on the ramparts. The food is
good & there is an adorable dachshund dog in restaurant. Walk
through cemetery—quite interesting. Most sites have pictures
of the deceased, whole families together. Back on bus, some
tensions are beginning to develop. Unfortunately, Tom feels
that someone "insulted" him. We jump off bus to walk on our
own to two churches. Quite nice, though traffic & crowds of
people are impossible on this Saturday. Stagger back to hotel
& collapse about an hour. Out to Flunch for hamburger steak,
new potatoes, mixed vegs for about 2.00, plus wine & a yogurt for
me. Nice atmosphere. Back to hotel to wash hair (me),
clothes (Geo) & journals (us).
What can one say about the tour itself?
As a group and as a program? For one thing, this tour has
fewer obvious academics, that is art and architectural historians
who teach at the college and university level. There is Tom
Ridington, Mary Carolyn George, Blake Alexander, Marian Davis (now
retired), and us. If there are others, I am unaware of them
(Harry Schalck is another). There are some librarians, active
and retired, I know of: Gary Menges,
Margaret Nicholsen (retired),
Lyle Perusse (retired). At least one museum person, Jack
Parker. Ben Schneider is a doctor (or was). Architects
include Michio Yamaguchi, Gene George and
Trudy Berson (who does not
practice). There are a number of couples, seven in all
counting us. The Georges and we may be the only professionals;
the others seem rolling in dough—or is it my imagination?
Regardless, I intend to speak with them one by one and eventually
learn more about them.
As for the tour, it is going to good places, and by and
large the amounts of time are within reason. The guidance,
whether in the matter of what we are about to see or in the
mechanics of in-out, on-off, etc. are not handled well. I
don't want to be over-guided or over-protected, and I want time to
do my own thing, but some advance alerting is useful, especially in
areas where one finds much and might be looking out the wrong window
and miss a notable view, monument, whatever. We are presumed
to be armed with guidebooks and maps, but let's face it, not all of
us have been that well prepared that we could guide a
group. Also, there are differing interests, and some are
better prepared on some aspects than others. I believe this
lack of guidance is making people restless, especially when it comes
to having our leader lead. His French is not that good, and he
wears a hearing aid. It seems to me others are doing more in
asking and answering questions in French than he is.
Fortunately, we have some along who are secure in French, and at
least a dozen, perhaps more, have my level of competency. But
there are those moments when Earl should be there to care for us in
a matter of admissions, or in informing people as to who and what we
But if people seemed cranky on Saturday, May 31, Sunday
the first of June made a lot of difference. It was a splendid
day and part of it was the fact (at least so I believe) that Earl
has been asked to be in tighter control and to exercise some
Tomorrow is Sunday June 1st & we go off to Moissac, Albi & Cordes.
We note more & more Spanish & Italian names now, palm trees.
Toulouse reminds us of Thessaloniki—one thing is much emphasis on
university students (much writing on walls, including churches!),
congestion, conglomerate of people. Hotel, though principal
hotel in city, no one speaks English & they seem a bit out of it.
I do hope—as we move into June—that our little factions calm down.
Tom complains of his hurt feelings & hurt kidney. Some people
are fuming about Earl & his ineffectuality, others talk about
Observations about France: everyone smokes, men,
women, seemingly children. Lots & lots of dogs, lots of dog
crap on sidewalk. (Small dogs.) Cars very aggressive—all
small, mostly French, some Italian & a few VWs; no Japanese, no
American big cars. (We noticed Renaults for $11,000, $8,000 &
$5,500.) Everything growing beautifully—gorgeous neat farms
with neat crops—not as much litter in cities as in USA.
Romantic vistas: canals, drooping trees, lovely flower arrangements;
the French all seem to have good manners, are polite & little real
rudeness—seem to be neat, smart & semi-amused at things, clean,
organized & prompt.
JUNE 1, 1980
Continental breakfast: Hotel Frantel Wilson / 8:30 a.m.:
Bus departs for tour of Albi
/ Box lunch (from Hotel) en route /
description of afternoon activity or dinner]
/ Overnight: Hotel
We totter down to meet the bus. Mila and I slept very soundly
and felt we should be early on the bus, an interesting combination
of unfocused but determined. In the lobby we saw a magnificent
stack of boxes—OUR LUNCH,
already paid for—and I peeked inside as did others. A tray with
bean salad, slice of tuscany [bread?], a small pizza, cheese, a
custard with flake pastry, a roll, and a little bottle of wine.
Also a real knife and fork and serviettes. Believe me, that
improved tempers; and the weather was crisp and clear, another plus.
Off we went to
Moissac. The church is a strange
conglomerate, basically Gothic, and there is the deep narthex-type
hall before it. To the side, facing and immediately on traffic
arteries, is the famous portal. There is restoration, of
course, and horrible disintegration of stone. My!
St. Peter was there, looking a bit weatherbeaten but there.
The other things were fine, but that was my goal about 33(?)
years since first I made his acquaintance. The sad thing is
that one can see contemporary damage as well as very ancient losses.
How much longer can it last? The cloister is nice, but it is
the capitals rather than the total ensemble. And some capitals
are more exciting than others. One interesting thing is a
giant tree in the cloister. Very large and thus quite old.
While in Moissac we heard music, and lo and behold a
parade of people in costumes, including shepherds(?)
on stilts. It was market morning, and the parade (why, we
don't know) went there and did a performance. Later, they were
seen on buses heading out of town. We wandered the market a
bit and then we also departed.
When we got to Guillac, which has a handsome formal
park, we picnicked with our fancy box lunches on the benches.
A pleasant interlude.
From there it was to Albi, a place I was not prepared
for and quite delighted with. The
cathedral is in a warm,
brownish brick, and quite tall. It soars. The entrance
is on the side, in the middle, and it is a flamboyant soaring thing
that is in stone, contrasting most interestingly with the basic
fabric of the church. And the tower simply soars even higher.
The church is on a promontory to boot. It, the church, is
accessible on three sides, with the fourth side obscured in part by
the bishop's palace, now the Toulouse Lautrec museum; more on that
later. The area surrounding the cathedral (St. Cecilia) is
medieval, in brick, with some half-timbering. The whole thing
looks like an opera set, as one of our colleagues noted.
Obviously, Albi deserves more attention than we can give it.
I'd say a half-day would be the absolute minimum, especially if one
wanted to look at the museum and to explore a bit.
The cathedral inside is a surprise. Elaborately
and completely frescoed (by Italians of modest late
skills). The church is divided into halves. The "open"
half faces the town and has an altar. The choir is the other
end, and it is totally enclosed by a
jube of flamboyant
style, including polychromed sculpture. And with the stained
glass, the interior is a total contrast with the exterior. One
should add that it is a single aisle church with deep chapels
between the buttresses, which are internal.
Then over to the museum. A few "other" things,
but it is mostly Toulouse-Lautrec. From childhood things to
mature works, there are gobs of drawings as well as paintings.
One doesn't need to comment on T-L and his work, but the early
manipulation of his talent is very evident in what one can see
here. There are several examples of one subject, preliminaries
and the like to provide additional insight. I was quite taken
with that was there to see. And then it was time to reboard
the bus, for there was yet another stop to make.
We then went to
Cordes, a medieval hill town that is
surrounded, below, by the newer town. We, of course, piled out
to see the old town, and scampered(?)
up the steep winding streets, oohing and ahhing at picturesque views
and dramatic vistas. Except for the inevitable and insistent
little automobiles, the visit was indeed a pleasure.
Finally back on the bus and back to Toulouse. We
went to eat (again) at Flunch, but this time with
It was our first sit-down together and we had a pleasant
conversation over our quiches. Then back to the hotel to pack
our bags for the morrow,. I'm beginning to routinize packing
so that I know, more or less, where everything is. By the time
I master this, it will be home again and a skill of no value.
Tomorrow we go to Nîmes, where we will be four nights.
Very good day—Mére Day. Began by breakfast at 7:00 with only
three rolls, out on street at 8:00 AM (Patric did not arrive
until 8:30!). Fought for front seats on bus. We all
signed a "card" for Rosann for Mother's Day. Interesting ride
to Moissac—beautiful Gothic cathedral. They were beginning
mass, so most of us left to go to cloisters (gorgeous capitals on
pillars—Daniel in the Lions Den, etc.) when I heard bagpipes—ran out
to see a parade of young people in wild native costumes dancing &
playing instruments like bagpipes. Last in procession were
boys & men on high stilts. Imaging walking/dancing all thru
town to the marketplace on stilts! We followed them to where
Sunday market had been set up & wandered thru it—everything was
being sold including rugs (Gene Gorge bought a Basque beret),
baskets, live rabbits, chickens, meats, cheeses, etc. Lots of
people. Was this a festival for Mother's Day? or of growing
things or what?
Ate box lunch at Gaillac in a park (nice enough but
cold). Sat on bench with [the] Georges & ate: pizza quiche, small
bottle of red wine, huge hunk of turkey, little French roll, cheese
(wonderful), gateau, cold green beans—a real feast! After
lunch we discovered magnificent formal garden with an old
summerhouse & river in back—straight out of John Fowles's
Tower. Was so enchanted that Mary Carolyn & I &
Holden were fifteen minutes late getting back on bus.
Trip to Albi uneventful. It is an incredible
church—a huge medieval fortress—almost [the size of the?] two churches we were allowed
to go into Saturday. Quite baroque & spectacular. Went
into museum which is mostly all
interesting & almost exhausting. By now it's almost 4:00—we go
to Cordes, a medieval walled city. Have to walk a lot to get
to uphill climb, then climb, climb for spectacular views (in sun!)
over parapets—walled garden, flowers, & lots of tourist shops
& cafés. Geo buys "illumination."
Tiring ride to Toulouse—going-home mobs of traffic.
Arrive at hotel at 7:10—go out with Ken for dinner at Flunch at
7:30—quiche, green salad & fruit cocktail. Back to pack & take
Picture Postcard of
Notre-Dame-La-Grande Church in Poitiers addressed to Matthew in KCMO, written by
Dear Matthew / I hope our earlier card reached you; one
never knows. We are both well and hard at it. There is
much to see and do, and never enough time or energy. We
are in the south of France now, and going farther down tomorrow.
It is a beautiful country and very diverse. My French is
improving very slowly; the reading is best and useful, but my
rehearsed speeches are tangled under pressure. Alas!
Call others to tell them all is well. / Love, Dad and Mom
JUNE 2, 1980
Continental breakfast: Hotel Frantel Wilson / 7 a.m.:
Luggage in halls / 8:30 a.m.:
Bus departs for Nîmes, via
Beziers and Aigues-Mortes / Box lunch (from Hotel) en route / Dinner: Hotel Sofitel,
Nîmes / Overnight: Hotel
A slow day today. The only interruption to driving to Nîmes
was a brief stop on the road to photograph Carcassonne in good light
at a distance. We also could see the Pyrenees in the opposite
direction at a distance. They were snowcapped.
We then stopped at Béziers.
Some changed money, some of us went to see a rather dusty and
cathedral. We then sat in a
park-like/promenade/parking setting to have our box lunches. [scratched
out: Suddenly,] Then it was off to Nîmes by way of
a road by the Mediterranean Sea. Lovely, including a drive
through Sete, a fishing village with other improvements. The
restaurants lining the main street were filled with luncheoneers as
We arrived at the très
hotel in mid-afternoon. We are not in town
but in Nîmes-Ouest. Mila and I took advantage of the
non-schedule to relax and do laundry.
Rosann called me. As a director of SAH, I'm asked
to inscribe suitably the gift book for Earl, and to get the others
to sign it. It is Paris: A Century of Change, 1878-1978
by Norma Evenson. An obviously suitable book.
For reasons not clear to me today, I feel
loggy and out
of it. I think I shall have to take it easy on the food,
perhaps it is a little too rich for me.
Strange day. Breakfast late due to maids taking bags down
early. Leave even before 8:30. Sit fairly far up front
for longish & bumpy drive. Beziers—strange Met [sic: Meditteranean]
city [where] we walked to an exceedingly dusty church with a beggar
in doorway, lots of wash hanging out facing narrow streets. We
eat box lunch in town's central park: chicken breast in jelly
(looked more like lard with flower design), potato salad,
cauliflower in oil, bread, cheese, chocolate éclair, tomato stuffed
with rice & crabmeat?
[sic] & bottle of
wine. Depart for Nîmes via Montpellier & Met Sea. When
we arrive at Sofitel Motel
[sic] the natives
are definitely getting restless—don't like kitsch hotel way out from
nowhere, etc. etc. I gather some have set off on foot for
Nîmes. Some of us sit around pool in bright sunshine & high
wind. Up to room for a rest & wash. Large room with two
large double beds, beige carpeting, gold covers, white walls, orange
drapes & chairs, pseudo wood luggage holder & table, bright orange
bathroom with extra bowl near main door—color TV. Strange
futuristic lamp on wall & by each bed like blown-up flowers
(one doesn't go on). Dinner: two eggs, mayonnaise,
chicken provencale with onions & mushrooms, pommes fritte,
fromage (choice of four), glacé with strawberry sauce,
with Blake & Marian. Speech(?)
by Earl changing itinerary for next few
days. People keep "escaping" across highway or into town by
taxi. I & assorted "men" stay by pool & watch sunset. To
JUNE 3, 1980
Mila Jean makes numerous handwritten corrections to her copy of the
"Tentative Tour Schedule"]
Continental breakfast: Hotel Sofitel
[past recept 2nd door to R] /
FREE DAY /
Shuttle trips of bus from Hotel to Nîmes and return throughout the day (optional walking tour witll be
scheduled of Roman structures in Nîmes) / Lunch on own
Leave at 9:00-12:15 Walking tour of Roman ruins in Nîmes. Mme
[sic]. Return to
at 1:00 at hotel (prepaid) informal. Bring sweaters. Leave
p.m.: Bus to St. Laurent for visit to village and wine cellars /
Reception given by Mayor and citizens, followed by country buffet / Overnight: Hotel Sofitel
Starting late this morning helped. The beds are comfortable
and the room is big and quiet. I for one benefitted by this.
Our bus schedule was a couple-three hours in Nîmes,
basically on our own. We began with the arena, which is now
bullfights French style. There are wooden bleachers
erected in the lower half of the arena to accommodate people, since
so much of the surface has vanished (into the fabric of Middle Ages
houses and churches no doubt). But it is surprising how much
still stands. It is one of the best-preserved according to the
Guide Bleu (or rather the local handout). It is an
impressive structure. I wasn't prepared for the scale of the
steps; the risers are rather tall and so are the seat risers.
We explored the several levels and the passageways (whose technical
name I've forgotten as I write this). It is two-tier, with
plain pilasters on the lower level, rather bold in relief, and
engaged Tuscan columns in the upper tier.
From the arena we went to the
While there is a little space around it, it sort of sits at a busy
intersection with a street going around the side and back not on the
corner. In fact, there is no sidewalk in front, making that
approach rather hazardous. The excavations have reached down
to the old level of the bottom step leading to the temple (and the
podium), but in front there are further steps down in each corner.
Was the street level even lower? I don't know. I
haven't been buying the guidebooks to cities and monuments in part
because of the cost and part the contents. But they probably
wouldn't tell me.
Anyway, the Maison Carrée
reaches up, when you are near it. The steps in front have tall
risers. The cella interior is rather small and is now a
museum. The cella is all later restoration with a skylight.
The quality of the carving outside varies insofar as condition goes,
but overall it is in good shape. One can see why
enamored of it. The proportions are graceful and there is a
statement of purpose in its appearance.
From there we headed, I thought, to the Roman baths,
but instead got turned around. Finally corrected our error
after seeing a street map posted with vous êtes ici. We
then reached, tardily, the gardens and began climbing upwards, and
upwards, and upwards to the old Roman tower. I did not then
climb the tower (as did some of our colleagues). From there, a
lovely spot, we descended to the baths, including the "Temple of
Diana." This is not a temple, but part of the Roman fountain
and baths. Interesting details, but very much a ruin.
Then I scurried back to look closely at the Maison Carrée,
then back to the bus. We probably needed more time in Nîmes,
but I saw the things I needed to see.
After a large lunch at the hotel, we went to
Laurent des Arbres, near the town of Lirac. St. Laurent has
perhaps 2,000 inhabitants and has an important cooperative
et cru, which is a cooperative winery for about 120 people with
vineyards. By the way, Remoulins is the largest near town (in
the map sense). At the cave we met
(Cynthia) Lasserre, a woman from Boston now 25 years married to a
Frenchman. She was right out of the Junior League and quite
charming. She was our hostess. Soon M. Marcel Chevalier,
a person of some importance, drove up. M. Chevalier reminded
me of Henry
Scott in his late years, perhaps a little stouter. M.
Chevalier was the head (?)
of the cooperative and, we soon learned, former
mayor of St. Laurent for 25 years. Mme. Lasserre
translated for us. She now has a summer (?)
home in St. Laurent, and she and her husband plan to retire there.
More on that later.
Chevalier explained how the winery works, their
appellation wine is called Lirac, and it apparently has some
Some [on the tour] got bored with the explanation. I found it
fascinating, simply because of Chevalier. He seemed très
amiable and very knowledgeable, and in love with his subject.
Or, perhaps I should say two subjects. The second is the
history of St. Laurent.
We then went into the village. It is quite old,
Romanesque church that was made part of a fortification
during the Gothic period—during
Babylonian captivity of the Pope. There, in the church, we
saw a young man in mufti arranging things. It turned out he
was the priest getting things ready for some children to rehearse
their first communion. The kids were outside making a great
deal of noise as we had a very brief lecture on the town from M.
Chevalier and a woman who spoke quite good English. More on
We were given the privilege of climbing the church's
tower (there are two other towers) and that had its moments. I
bumped my head only once going from the roof up the stairs/ladder
and into the tower where the bells were. Then we had an
opportunity to go with the "other woman" to visit her house.
It was once one of three mills outside of town. Her house has
a 16th Century courtyard, and this we visited, plus a vaulted
section (now used as a storage basement) and the principal
chambre. It had the souvenirs of several generations of
her family (mother's side) and visible damage done by
Directoire soldiers during the Revolution, when they were being
anticlerical. A mass was being said in the room when the
soldiers arrived. The cupboard in which the priest hid is
still in the room! All in all, it was quite a treat. The
lady is only now the "new" owner, and they plan restoration in time.
We saw, from the outside, another of the mills,
beautifully converted to a house. It was reminiscent of the
Monemvasia experience or that of places like
Arrow Rock or
Boonville. Apparently this sort of finding old houses, in
historic villages or towns or in picturesque settings, for
retirement homes is universal (or at least French as well as
American). And rehabbing them with restoration is a basic
We walked out and while walking back we saw the town's
skyline with its three towers and the remnants of its ramparts.
Quite interesting. We then assembled in the courtyard of Mme.
Lasserre's house. The former mayor was there, and the new
I'm not sure but what he is something more like a city manager, and
perhaps for several towns. It was not clear and I did not talk
with him. His English was excellent (he had been in the U.S.)
and he welcomed us. This time (after discussion of failure to
respond in Poitiers, at the reception, by Earl) I acted; I
spoke up, and on behalf of the directors of the SAH who were there,
I thanked him, M. Chevalier and Mme. Lasserre. Apparently my
tour colleagues thought highly of that gesture.
There was wine!!!
here, of course. This was an
occasion where I felt I had to break my near-total abstinence on
this trip. They are noted for their rosé, so I had that.
It was good. Dinner was a rather elaborate picnic-type repast
which I sampled sparingly, since we['d] had a rather comprehensive
four-course luncheon. The supper's dessert was
This is vinyard and orchard country, and they are noted for their
cherries, which have suffered this year due to excessive rain and
cold. Even so, they were delicious.
Today was a good day. Everyone was mellow and
content on the way back to Nîmes. Unfortunately, there is a
serious problem with the WC on the bus, due to a broken pump (to
pump out water) and a bum switch
for another pump.
Parts from Germany are needed. This is not a pleasant
But at least the evening was a delight, the village
historic and picturesque, and the hospitality grand.
Walking tour of Roman ruins/amphitheatre monumental & huge,
gorgeous gardens & baths high tiered to tower (did not go up
to top), beautiful sky, trees, flowers. Home to wonderful
lunch: salad [of] lettuce, shredded carrots, cabbage, tomato,
cucumber. Ratatouille, pork, cheese, crême caramel.
Out to St. Laurent to visit village & wine cellars! A
wonderful enchanted day—St. Laurent & its inhabitants are straight
out of central casting: Spanish-looking children—all local people
stared at us amused-like, children waiting for first communion all
wanted to have their pictures taken, the young priest in mufti, the
Boston matron named Cynthia who had been married to a Frenchman for
25 years & had a "summer home" at St. Laurent they were remodeling,
the glamorous brunette widow in pale beige tissue-thin dress with
lovely perfume, the country wife with five children (ranging from
fifteen to ten months) whose family owned a Renaissance house that
originally had been a mill who led us on a quarter of a mile walking
trip down a country lane to visit the courtyard and to see one
summer room filled with curios & souvenirs of her family & the
fireplace where revolutionaries had decapitated Cupid because they
thought it was Jesus. It was all so picturesque: the
cornfields (shades of Van Gogh), the swaying grass & wildflowers,
snarling huge (usually black) dogs (Mme had two), the accompanying
blonde plump Mme in high heels with a soldier son named Yves—and
above all the mayor—Marcel Chevalier—straight out of central
casting—tall, blue-eyed, big-nosed (Henry Scott), explaining the
wine factory, welcoming the group, describing the church (with the
priest patiently waiting for communion), holding the statue of the
Virgin (with her tulle skirt & voluptuous body), singing, sharing
the wine from the keg, Jack passionately kissing him goodbye
(after having read the mayor his poetry), my spilling rosé wine on
Mitch & his genial response, the drunken ride home thru the
gorgeous sunset (at 10 p.m.!). The WC has been declared
très mal & needs a part from
Germany. Patric seems to be getting increasingly well-attuned
to the group.
JUNE 4, 1980
Continental breakfast: Hotel Sofitel / 8:30 a.m.: Bus
departs for Pont du Gard, Avignon and Arles /
Box lunch (from Hotel) en route / [scored
7:30] : Dinner: Hotel Sofitel / Overnight: Hotel Sofitel
If yesterday was grand, today was less so, even though we saw
interesting things: Pont du Gard, Avignon, and St. Gilles. We
had been noting the steady wind ever since arriving at Nîmes, or in
the surrounding area. Yesterday at St. Laurent, we learned
that is was the MISTRAL. Yes, we were experiencing the famous
mistral. With it, the sky is absolutely clear, a cold/hot
blue, and the sun is very bright. The famous sun of the
the sun of Vincent van Gogh. Toward the end of this day's
travels, on our leg from St. Gilles to Nîmes, I saw how the
cypresses (and all other tress) whipped and writhed. I
actually saw waves progressing across the fields with grain
in them. I am now certain in my mind that what Vincent was
trying to show [was] the wind and its effects when he developed that
curved short brush stroke. I will have to reexamine his work
in this context. I wonder if anyone has even written on
Well, back to the day's adventures. This was day
thirteen. Not a matter of superstition, but rather the start
of the second half of our tour. It had some weak links in the
chain of events.
First, the bus was late. Not by much, but we were
ready to board around 8:15/8:20. Patric didn't arrive until
8:35/8:40. But once aboard, all seemed OK. We went to
the Pont du Gard (very near Remoulins I discovered). It is
impressive. A narrow one-lane road has been constructed along
the lower arcade on the east side with the same construction
methodology and stone as the old. It is really well done (18th
Century) and not obtrusive since the upper two arcades are not
changed. The stone is a warm honey color. The condition
is remarkably good. I chose not to cross on foot, thought I
did go out a piece on the lower level, and I did walk a piece into
the water channel on the upper level. I then clambered up to a
vista vantage point to look at the pont and the view of the
From there it was off to Avignon. That was not
well handled, partly because Patric and Earl were not communicating
today, or something. Instead of being let out in town,
we ended up at a bus park just inside the walls. That was so
we would know how to get to the bus for our sack lunches.
There is a lot of new construction and various building and street
repairs underway between the bus park and the
Palais des Papes.
The result was total and understandable confusion getting up to the Palais. This we did at 11:00 or later. The Palais closed
for two hours, 12 to 2 (like a museum). So we moved through it
with a guide who simply kept us from getting lost. Here too
there is much reconstruction. What we saw was quite
interesting except that the great court was filled with what
appeared to be rather permanent bleachers with shaped seats (that
tilted forward to keep clean?).
That was a peculiar first sight, to say the least, of this 14th
Century structure. We were actually locked in at noon, but our
guide had a key and we exited safely. It is hard to decide
what to say about the Palais. It is as much a fort as a
palace, and we saw primarily "state chambers."
So we returned to the bus and boarded it to have lunch
by the Rhône River. We were halfway there when it was
discovered that Ken LaBudde was missing. Someone spotted him
going to the bus park as we were tooling along on the peripheral
road by the walls. There was no way to stop, and our "leaders"
were quite concerned (Rosann was not with us and
supposed to be the shepherd). Patric pulled into a sandy
median strip that was more a car park than a park. This had
some stone slabs (benches?).
The mistral was creating a dust storm. Most of us finally
scrambled across the road and its traffic to sit on the uninspiring
bank of the Rhône. Lunch was OK but too much food. There
was a piece of a baguette, a chicken breast, an egg, two pieces of
cheese, salami, butter, a tomato, an orange and an apple. No
utensils, no seasoning, no liquids (though we brought water).
I ate sparingly and I believe wisely.
Adding to the confusion was the time for reassembly.
We had been given an hour and a half at this forsaken spot—hardly
what we required—and there was the problem of Ken still missing.
Then, half an hour before he was supposed to appear, Patric
appeared. Had I missed something? Everyone was now
confused. We tooled back into town and got off at the major
square near the Palais. Why couldn't we do this
before?? We were now told we had until 3 p.m. (75 minutes free
At first I thought I'd wait until 2 and visit the
museum. Then, instead, Mila, Gene George (Mary Carolyn was in
Nîmes recovering from a bout with flu or something) and I went up to
the garden of the Palais. What a lovely spot. There was,
however, exposure to an exaggerated mistral effect. As a
lookout point over the Rhône, I was hard pressed to stay standing
without leaning into the wind, literally leaning. But
what a view: Cezanne colors everywhere. It was from there that
I saw the waves in the grain. The three of us had a
limonade naturelle (a fizzy colorless lemonade made with real
lemon juice). That was a charming place. The public WC
was not. I can see the role for the attendant, but even then
the public facility is extremely fundamental. (While drinking
our limonade, we saw a young mother washing her child's
behind in a decorative fountain—a stream of water coming from the
beak of a goose. Ah me.)
We descended, somewhat bedraggled and begrimed by wind,
dirt, and experience to see the bus waiting. So we boarded and
there was Ken LaBudde. Exactly how the contact was made
I know not, but I suspect people will be more cautious in the future
about seat partners, etc.
We then plowed off to St. Gilles. We now
discovered that the bus air conditioning was made for Germany and
not the Midi. Frankly, the bus isn't all that good or
comfortable. A messed up WC and inadequate ventilation, both
things we have paid for to be in satisfactory condition. Rosann, of course, will be burdened by all of this since I'm sure
the complaints are coming in to her. Yet everyone seems
determined to be reasonable—even the genetically-imprinted bitchers
(we have at least one obvious case).
We go to St. Gilles through Arles (which we visit
tomorrow). It is hot and we track through Arles on a busy
narrow road which shows us nothing. But after leaving it, one
begins to see Van Gogh paintings. This was when I see the
movement in the cypresses in Van Gogh terms. At St. Gilles we
park by a WC in a place for tourists to park. Tom Ridington
and some others set off like they knew where they are going when we
are told we have half an hour for the
church. And we are led
wrong! We ask directions in a curious place with people
lounging on their stoops in the narrow medieval street. We get
gauches et droits and eventually we reach it. A
funeral is in process! But we study the facade (the nave is
Gothic). It has curious pieces of restoration, but on the
whole a coherent arrangement and truly different. It was worth
even the few moments we had. It was, after all, an add-on to
I track over to the Bureau de Tourisme up a short
street (there was a banner over it) to find it closed! But
there was a map and the Romanesque house. I figured our path
back (incorrectly the first time, correctly the second with Earl) to
the bus. I deciphered the bus location by a WC on the map!
And we descended, quickly and directly, to the area of the bus.
We clambered aboard and got back to Nîmes quickly, though Patric
missed his turn off and had to turn around.
It was necessary showers and such before we could
descend for dinner, which was outdoors. There is another group
or two in the hotel and we have to maneuver carefully. The
waiters seemed less with it tonight (too many people?).
I think if less [time] was put on plate shuffling and all that, and more on
moving things in and out, it would be easier all around.
Granted, one is served, but I wonder how a convention meal for
several hundred would be handled?
Well enough of that, and this, for tonight.
Forgot to mention meal last night: ham, veal, paté, salami
(sausage), olives rolled in oregano or rosemary, two kinds of salad
(green & potato), bread, four kinds of cheese, three kinds of local
wine (the rosé was superb), cherries.
Today was a washout. Patric was thirty minutes
late. Not only is the [bus] john non-functioning, but so is
the air conditioning. Earl seemed to lose total control of
group & was particularly inept (does he turn his hearing aid off on
purpose?). Ken LaBudde wandered off by himself & got left
behind. I used the public WC in a beautiful park in Avignon &
it was so incredibly filthy I couldn't even stand in the footholds &
wet all over myself; the ride home was hot; Patric kept missing
signs. But Pont du Gard was cool, a magnificent Roman
bridge in a scenic setting—walked in front & looked at view; we &
Gene George (Mary Carolyn still ill) found some lovely public
gardens [in Avignon] & had limonade at a little outdoor spot
overlooking pond with ducks, swans & geese—the French do such
wonderful things with flowers—whole banks of pansies: purple, violet,
fuchsia—fountains (this one with a graceful female nude), ferns,
places to sit & face scenic views, etc. We came home hot &
surly about 5:30 to wash up & completely cleanse selves.
Saw rice fields today (Mitch got excited), all sorts of
Van Gogh-type landscapes, banks of cypresses whipping in wind, wheat
fields waving (like his curly lines) in the mistral wind. (Saw
a street called Place
Frederic Mistral with WC etc.) We're
sure part of Van Gogh's problem stemmed from the wind; we all start
to feel crazy too! That, plus the sun & it's only early
June—what must it be like in July & August? The people in
general seem really very nice, accommodating—around here they look
Basque—hooked noses, straight black hair, black eyes (Hemingway's
bullfighter). This hotel's motif is bulls—one dining room is
dominated by huge paintings of bulls, matadors, matador killing
bulls (not appetizing)—all bright colors—this hotel capitalizes on
bright colors: orange, red, gold especially. Evening
meal out by pool consisted of two kinds of ham, lettuce, pickles,
rosé wine, large whitefish with spinach & baked potatoes &
tiny croissant, green salad, & glacé with stawberry sauce.
Went across highway (!!) with Tom, Mitch & Jack to this
supermarché (French version of
Venture) & bought grapefruit for
Mary Carolyn, Guide Bleu [for] Mitch,
cassis for Jack—got
"caught" by Roseann majestically surveying our return from her hotel
window. Had cassis in Room 403 until 11:00. We hope for
better things tomorrow—
JUNE 5, 1980
Continental breakfast: Hotel Sofitel /
Bus leaves at 9:00-2:30-(3:30)]
Arles Aigues-Mortes] /
Box lunch (from Hotel) en route / [handwritten:
6 p.m. Cocktails at Room #317 BYOB]
7:30]: Dinner: Hotel Sofitel / Overnight: Hotel Sofitel
We enjoyed a late start (9:00 am) this morning, and we noticed
another interesting change. The wind had died down. The
change was quite noticeable. There was a haze as well.
Today was going to be different.
Out first stop was Arles. We arrived OK, but Earl
managed to take us by a rather indirect way to the
advantage was we saw it first with the sun-struck portion of the
exterior. Then we learned that the ticket sellers were on
strike! Entrance to every monument other than the churches
themselves was interdict today. We toured the exterior of the
arena, and it did appear to be more capacious insofar as the
transverse vaults seemed deeper. Perhaps the slant of the
seats is less steep than in Nîmes. Here too, bleachers were
created within, and there are bullfights.
We went by the
theatre. We peeped through the
fence, here and there. It too is used [today],
but with a heavily reconstructed seating area. Then we went
over to St. Trophime. We could see the portal (very dirty and
in the shade at this hour), the interior of the church, but not the
cloister. Inside the entrance there is a very nice explanatory
plan with illustrations pointing out features of interest
That, I thought, was quite a good idea but not typically done,
however. What remains most fixed in my memory of St. Trophime
are three things. For whatever reason, I don't know what, it
doesn't look like the pictures (even though it does, of course).
I recognized it, but not in that sense of: Hey, there it is.
It isn't like at St. Gilles, where I was surprised by the size of
the portals; it is much bigger than St. Trophime and my imagination.
Second was a 4th Century sarcophagus; it was much like that of
Junius Bassus. Third was a display (unlighted and behind a
gull in a chapel) of reliquaries. The plan by the door said
they were 19th Century, though the reliquaries looked older.
One could see bones in the larger ones with glass covers.
Our plans were modified at Arles due to the strike, and
we were scheduled to leave at 11:00 instead of 12:00. I took
advantage of the time to break a 500 f note in a bank, and as
we wended our way down to the bus we were held up by a
demonstration-parade with banners. The handouts informed us
that it was over a revision(?) or some changes in health coverage.
It seemed much like in England, or in the U.S. with their charity
hospitals. People can't get comprehensive care and treatment
and medicines at no cost to them or at low cost. I kept the
handout to read later on in greater detail.
So off we went to
Les Saintes Maries de la Mer.
This small town is literally on the Mediterranean Sea, by the mouth
of the Little Rhône River. It is in the delta area, and there
we saw salt marshes, rice fields and ponds. It is a place they
raise a special breed of bulls, and horses. The latter are
very much in evidence and are grey. In town we sat on some
quarried rocks just above the sand by the sea and ate our sack
lunches (once again I was sparing in my intake). There is
little else in town (it is a resort town now in a modest way)
other than an old fortified
church. It opened at two and one
could see a very dark interior. In the crypt there was a
vending machine for small jar-type votive candles!
Oh my, I forgot an episode between Arles and Saintes
Maries. We went to the ruined abbey of
restorations have taken place. It was open (briefly before
closing) and we saw the church, cloister, crypt, and some other
structures. The early part is Romanesque. I did not
climb a tower there, nor at Stes. Maries. It was mostly a
matter of time. I'm sure the views would have been worth it.
Well, then it was on to
Aigues-Mortes. This is a
rectangular walled city with a gridiron plan built in the 13th
Century! Frankly it was not overly interesting except for the
walls and the plan. We did not spend much time there and soon
headed back to Nîmes.
There was a BYOB party before dinner and a fairly
decent dinner. I've inscribed the commemorative book with a
suitably positive yet neutral statement, as follows: "This book is presented to Earl D. Layman to
commemorate a memorable trip to France. We now understand
Earl's love for LA BELLE FRANCE. The 1980 SAH Tour of France."
I am sitting in the room writing this as people come up
from supper. The book is open, and so is the door to the room.
I've begun to snare people [in] to sign it.
And tomorrow is a brute of a day. We have to get
up [at] 5:45 and luggage has to be in the halls by 6:30. We
leave at 7:30. Phooey. But so be it!
hot ride to Arles, Stes-Maries-de-la-Mer, etc. A much better
day, though hot in the sun—also we grabbed seats high up to the
front in the bus. Started at 9:45 in Arles to find out that
there was a municipal workers strike, ticket sellers included.
So we couldn't get in to see inside of amphitheatre or regular
theatres—finally found an area where we could peer thru the bars
& take photos of "orchestra" area. Went thru church & used
public WC & went on to another Romanesque church only about five
minutes away—it was interestingly rustic, had dark crypt & light
cloisters. Best part of day was spent eating picnic lunch by
the sea with all of the surfers, bikini-clad nymphets & others
cavorting about. The sea was beautiful but cold with a stiff
wind blowing—made eating a real challenge but it beat that mess in
the mistral yesterday. Rest of town looked like a set from MGM technicolor extravaganza in a Mexican tourist town. Tom & I
spent some time hunting for a WC—he settled on a pissoir & I
eventually found a private one in a café while Geo quaffed a
limonade. Back on bus & on to Aigues-Mortes (a fortified
town that seemed to have died years ago) which featured lots of
medium-sized dogs that either fought or slept in the middle of the
Tonight is Earl's cocktail party—to which I'm not
panting to go—poor Earl, he seems to live in another world (maybe
he's been deaf too long?).
It really was rather frenetic: first with no air & tons of cigarette
smoke, then with confusion of everyone coming in with his/her
bottle, except Patric—the people who had gone on to Aix-en-Provence
even brought cut-up melons. We are with Jack & Mitch in a very
hot dining room: fish & veg soup, some meat Provençal
with onions. It was jolly but we were relieved to go out by
pool only to be attacked by mosquitoes—had hot tea (a mistake?) with
Mitch etc. Geo had asked some people to come to our room to
sign book for Earl. I finally washed hair at 10:30!
Picture Postcard of
Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer addressed to Matthew in KCMO, written by
George (text partly obscured by postmark):
(We were here today) / I realize that we still [...] days to go, but since th[...] mailed until tomorrow [...] won't reach you until [..] before
we return. So this [...] postcard. The days vary in
activity and adventure. The mistral of the past three days
finally quit, creating a significant change. The mistral is a
non-storm, high-velocity, constant wind. We are both holding
up quite well and are reasonably attuned to the routine of travel.
Happily, I don't have to do the driving. I won't bore you
now with listing all we have seen. Just give folks a call
to tell them we're doing all right. Even financially!
Take care, see you soon. / Love, Dad and Mom
JUNE 6, 1980
Continental breakfast: Hotel Sofitel / 7 a.m.: Luggage
in halls. /
7:30]: Bus departs for Clemont-Ferrand, via
Issoire and Chaise Dieu [handwritten:
Box lunch (from Hotel) en route / 7 p.m.: Dinner: Hotel
Frantel, Clermont-Ferrand / Overnight: Hotel Frantel,
We start out very early, on the bus before 7:30 a.m. Even so,
all of the better seats (those toward the front) are taken. We
head into the centre de ville and see several ancient
monuments as we head for our secondary "direct" road to Le Puy.
We pan by the arena and we see a portico passing down another; it is
the Maison Carrée. The light is
just right, at that early hour, for the portico. Then we sweep
by the baths and soon are out of town.
The day is mostly mountain driving. This is
extremely fatiguing on all, especially those of us in the rear, on
the sunny side. Our target is
Le Puy, which we reach at near
noon. The scenery on the way is quite impressive, with only
small communities along the way, often at considerable distances
from each other. Very different from the Loire. A lot of
rock houses, very simple, though stucco is a rather common finish
material. Seeing ruined fortifications on a hill, surrounded by a
small town (the uniform tile roofs with occasional slate) has become
commonplace! The Middle Ages, at least back to the 12th and
13th Centuries, are rather evident. That I hadn't expected—the
We reached Le Puy and parked by a park. We took
our sack lunches over to the park, and finally found an adequate
place on a bench with others. Scenic it wasn't. Then we
discovered there was no bread in the sacks, we had departed too
early! Furthermore, the usual was less usual. Instead of
ham or chicken or veal, we had a slice of terribly rare beef.
The salami and unrecognizable cheese I skipped. Well, to
summarize, I had a tomato and an apple, saving my orange for later.
We began the walk-climb up to the church. It was
an interesting climb since this is a
pilgrimage church. We
decided to do the 102 steps in front, which really were quite easy;
and it was worth it. Not only is the approach fascinating, but
the view from above back down is worth the experience. Inside,
the church is quite interesting. It isn't simply the domes.
There is a different quality in the furnishing, paintings, etc.
This is somewhat off the foreign tourist track in contrast to some
other places we've been, though they do get tourists. While we
were there, we were really the only group. While in the
church, there was an organ recital—very nice to hear that sound in
such a place. The pilgrimage has to do with the plague and the
original miracle dates back to the early
5th Century. This was
the 1550th anniversary year! The cloister is very nice indeed.
There were two demi-Corinthian columns with flutes in a dark corner,
plus the more usual medieval ones. The multicolored stone used
in the church is more evident in the cloister area than on the grimy
facade of the church. Another influence on
perhaps. Also, the Pont du Gard's superimposed arcade?
From the church, we wended back to the bus by a
different path. There are old-style wooden shopfronts.
We stopped at a patisserie for a little sweet before reaching
hotel is a strange one in
The reason for this abrupt shift is simply that we went direct from
Le Puy to Clermont-Ferrand. We arrived shortly after 5 p.m.
The group straggled off the bus "in fragments." The rooms are
strange and non-rectangular:
F.L. Wright misunderstood hexagrams.
The street noise is intense and constant. To breathe we must
open windows: a no-win situation.
But dinner is good. Afterwards, though I'm really
too tired to go walking, several decide to do so, including Mila.
So I figure I better go too. We visit the
cathedral exterior at
night. It is an imposing volume with the west front by Viollet
le Duc soaring up into the dark sky. Gargoyles loom way out
over our heads, grotesques to frighten one if one weren't too tired
to be imprinted.
We return to the hotel. I fall into bed and sleep
better than Mila. We have to keep some window open and the
street noise is formidable, especially motor bikes and other such
sputtering creatures of the automotive/internal combustion world.
at 5:30 AM, a no-fun trip on June 6th, though Alpine scenery
was spectacular—too much so with twisty turns & precipitous drops.
Finally took a Dramamine which helped, though made me punchy (we
were in back of bus!). Stopped after two hours in little
village to use public toilet ([illegible]!) & buy sweets (not us).
On to Le Puy for picnic lunch in park (by zoo)—same old lunch.
On for an interesting trek to Notre Dame de Puy, a very holy pilgrim
church (102 steps up to cathedral door
on knees!) in Middle Ages.
We investigated most of it by ourselves—the organist was practicing
quite beautifully & it rang thru the domes—the cloisters were
particularly interesting, with wonderful grinning or grimacing
capitals of animals & "men"—also went to winter chapel.
Staggered down steps to Square & some
cholatal [?] raspberry sweets.
Ride to Clermont-Ferrand [was] a bit steep but we all seemed
to sleep. The hotel is plastic with huge windows looking out
over what is seemingly the center of town—sounds like NYC. We
had to open windows to get any air & then the noise is staggering.
This Clouseau place sports a faucet that takes a genius to run &
then it leaks over the sink. We have to keep window open
because of no air circulation. However, there are
compensations: the serving staff (one pale girl who seems to do
everything & a "head" waiter) is pleasant &
the food well prepared
(fresh ham & scalloped potatoes, wonderful salad with carrots,
cucumbers, mushrooms etc. in vinaigrette sauce, cheese & an
elaborate dessert with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge sauce on a shell
of hard sweet).
Walked out to cathedral after dinner (at 10:00) with
Katie, Tom, Jack, Mitch &
Yona. On to bed & the traffic.
JUNE 7, 1980
Continental breakfast: Hotel Frantel / 8:30 a.m.: Bus
departs for tour of Nevers-Vezelay area /
Box lunch (from Hotel) en route / 7 p.m.: Dinner: Hotel
Frantel / Overnight: Hotel Frantel
We start out by taking the bus in a most circuitous route to the
cathedral. For various logistical reasons not clear to me, we
start late. That is unusual. Are we getting a little
We arrive at the cathedral and we spend time there
before going over to
Notre Dame du Port. Then we return to the
cathedral to get back on the bus. As for this last, more on
The cathedral, basically a 13th Century Gothic work, is
impressive inside. We tour it slowly and after a while go to
Notre Dame, a Romanesque church. It too is impressive.
We see the basic Auvergne-type church with its multicolor stone in
patterns and complex crossing. Also the elaborate chevet and
crypt are visited. After due admiration for the apse end and
the tower and such, we return to the Gothic cathedral. It
makes an interesting contrast. The light and space are so
well as the size. As we look and study, we notice a great
crowd gathering within. There are young children, mostly
girls, in white religious-type habits. Some sort of ceremony
is to begin and the orderly French are clearly being overwhelmed by
more people than they planned for. Is it a first communion,
confirmation, or a graduation of some sort? We never learn.
They are still sorting people out when it is time to leave to board
The plan is to return to the hotel and drop off those
who wish to remain in town. At the hotel we learn there is a
fuel leak on the bus and repairs are needed. Off we pile,
toting our sack lunches. Mila and I adjourn to the room to eat
some of it and wait for our repaired bus. We assemble on the
appointed hour and no bus. More time drags by and finally the
bus reappears repaired. Plans must be revised. By now
our company is reduced.
We head for
Issoire for the
church there. It is a
fine example and much appreciated with its historical capitals,
splendid chevet exterior, etc. Then we head for
This church is a surprise. Excavations or restoration or
something is taking place near the choir and it is a partial
shambles. It was so strange to walk in the transept and find
all the chairs facing west with an altar set up before the locked
west doors. The floor consists of a stone mosaic pattern in
two colors (at least). This ia very "untouched"-looking church
in contrast to Issoire with its 19th Century paint job. There
are even, still, ancient doors.
Then it is off to
[le] Haut, up in the high
country. That is a small but charmingly situated church at a
picturesque location. It too is of the Auvergne type.
The use of two colors (at least) of stone is logical, since the area
abounds in rocks of multicolor. I noticed old houses with a
random use of such found stones in walls. No photographs are
allowed inside St. Nectaire, and a crisp business in cards and
prepackaged slides is quite active. Also, to see the
treasures, one must insert one-franc coins to activate the light
(eerie filtered light). Same is true for the dome. A
guard in the choir has a mike to alert people as to dos and don'ts.
How commercial, but this is the big business besides the medicinal
In contrast, at Brioude we interacted with a wedding
party heading in a little parade to the church after the tolling of
a bell. A street bazaar of the traveling kind was just
shutting down by the chevet exterior. We were simply part of
From St. Nectaire, Patric took us over a most scenic
road to Le Mont Dore and then back to Clermont. It is wild,
scenic, Alpine (kind of) country. The winter snows were in the
final stages of meltdown (I'd seen the rushing brooks elsewhere—now
I saw the cause). We moved back in time to the lilacs
and eventually to trees just budding, then above the tree line.
It was really quite dramatic here in the
Central Massif. It is
ski country—we saw one very large and long lift. We also saw a
car over the side, down the mountain. It was an exhilarating
ride though a bit hair-raising at times. The scenery is
spectacular, but not in the Rockies or the
Mani sense. Rather,
it was the rapid changes in character and kind.
Soon we were back in Clermont-Ferrand. This
country is about an hour's drive from the city. We had a nice
supper. I made my little talk* and then Blake Alexander [made
Then others spoke. And then I was in the room writing this.
And now, it is time for bed.
I was coordinated with Blake to discuss [the] need for support for
SAH. I am becoming the SAH rep on the tour whether I like it
or not. Blake is too shy and Earl too not with it!
Hotel Frantel, Clermont-Ferrand. 8:30 leave (pardon, 9:00)/
Went thru both churches in Clermont-Ferrand (Earl, per usual,
ineffectual). Geo & I mostly on own—in the big cathedral they
are preparing for first communion of seemingly hundreds of
white-clad girls (brides of Christ?) with thousands of proud parents
with cameras & grandmamas—the priests kept trying to clear the
aisles to no avail.
Found out (after all this & after handing out box
lunches—ugh!) that something (leak in diesel fuel pump) needed
repair and Patric intensely rushed into the hotel, only to stand at
the desk going thru the Yellow Pages for repair shops! So
all of us had to pile out solemnly (and rather surly) up to rooms to
eat one more box (sack) lunch in room. We are getting so sick
of them! French bread, chicken, ham, cheese, hardboiled egg,
etc. Most of us throw a lot of it away by now. More's
the pity. We had been told to assemble by 11:45 which
gradually (and even painfully) lengthened until 1-1:30, with little
knots of disconsolate people sitting (some on floor) of lobby
looking like displaced persons. There was talk of mutiny, threats
against Patric (sure, he was OK out there somewhere eating
his hot lunch while we scattered crumbs in lowly hotel rooms, etc.).
Soon, however, he arrived & was avalanched by a group of some 35
people (some stayed back) eager to so somewhere.
We did. In fact it was even a good afternoon (we
didn't get back until 7 PM!) and included churches (I can't begin to
describe them, except [that] some are Romanesque & attempts to
repaint them with earth colors on the columns etc. are interesting &
that one had [an] intriguing stone-patterned floor). More
interesting to me are the sights, sounds, & smells of the local
color—and apparently Patric, in an effort to reingratiate [himself
with] us, took
us on a path of his own devising up into the mountains (luckily I
was up in front) into some spectacular scenery: wild mountain
flowers, glaciers, volcanic mountains, snow & mist surrounding the
top of the ski lifts (at 4,000 feet), fir trees, rustic people (a
hunchback dwarf) in village (all looking like an opening scene of an
operetta featuring an Alpine village)—the people going to the "sacred" church
& to the "waters." The only thing detracting from the view is
Elaine Loudmouth who sits next to me and talks a blue streak the
We arrive back at hotel late, mildly hysterical from
the "highs" of the trip and the further adventures of the Clouseau
security. Had nice
dinner (Prosciutto with olives, chicken
with Creole rice, cheese & floating white fluff pudding).
Walked out with Jack after dinner but there is next to nothing to
see in this city. It apparently was badly bombed in the war &
all of the new buildings are schlocky. To bed to combat
traffic noise & Geo's snoring.
JUNE 8, 1980
Continental breakfast: Hotel Frantel / 7 a.m.: Luggage
in halls / 8 a.m.: Bus departs for Bourges /
Box lunch (from Hotel) en route /
description of afternoon activity or dinner]
/ Overnight: Hotel Christina, Bourges
As I write this, a church bell is tolling. It is 6:00 p.m. in
Bourges. I'm lying/sitting up in a double bed in a small but
utterly charming room at the
Hotel Christina. The wallpaper
consists of extraordinarily large flowers of several sorts on vines.
At home I'd be ill; here it relates to the Louis Quinze replica
furniture that occupies the room. There is a double bed, as
mentioned, an armchair, a straight back chair, a table (for two), a
two-drawer chest with desk (slant top above), and two small end
tables by each side of the head of the bed. No wardrobe.
There is a fairly ample built-in closet, a WC (a real water closet)
and a bathroom (with the bidet).
It has been a long day, and we are resting before going
out to dinner. Mila is in a similar position next to me,
writing in her journal. So what happened till now?
Up early to load bus, etc. The group is very good
about being ready and willing. We head out of Clermont for
Nevers. It is an easy ride through placid agricultural
scenery. At Nevers there is a bit of the usual confusion as to
how, what, when, etc. There are two churches, a Romanesque one
and a Gothic one. We are also to eat in the park. Some
are gung-ho to do everything and at full tilt. I am not.
I do not wish to run, climb, or tear around. I've reached the
point where quiet contemplation is needed. The group heads off
in two or three directions. Mila and I (she concurs in my wish
for a slow pace) walk over to the ?(arch)ducal
palace, a fine mix of late Gothic chateau and the early French
Renaissance. Next to it, a charming theatre. The chateau
is now the law courts. It looks over a formal walk with
formal, austere plantings, and we walk on it.
We finally go over to the Gothic church, the
There are services under way, and a sign requests visitors to hold
off during same. This we honor, thus seeing only a portion of
the interior before seeing the sign and retreating. Later
there will be christenings, and people are arriving in groups with
tiny babes all dressed up. We are seeing non-Parisian France's
activities in a variety of ways.
Soon it is time to claim our sack lunches and we do so
and sit on a bench in the park. I eat sparingly and so does
Mila now. Sack lunches of the oddment sort are not satisfying.
A carnival (closed at the time) flanks the park.
It is rather elaborate and reminds me of some I saw in country
fairs, etc., so long ago.
On to Bourges. We arrive soon after one p.m. and
porter our own bags. Only women are in evidence checking us
in. Everyone seems in a good humor. Mila and I love our
quarters (for one night anyway) and hope traffic noise is less.
But now as I lie here writing I realize I hear cars rumble by.
But perhaps it will be less noisy in the night. It is a far
cry from the constant roar of Clermont.
We assemble in front of the hotel at 2 p.m. and head a
hop skip and a little jump over to the Palais of
Our hotel is on a street next to Les Halles (a really big one) but
just beyond that 19th(?) Century structure (that must be a regional
market) is the incredible house of Jacques Coeur. We are
admitted as a group and we are given a conducted tour in French.
One does not do it on one's own. I could follow about
one-third of what was said. I might have done even better
except for the chattering in the group. The house is truly
impressive. Really knock-out in some aspects. And far
bigger than I anticipated. This was one time I felt a
guidebook was useful. I made my transactions all in French;
but that wasn't terribly difficult to do, given the simplicity of
the task. Nevertheless, no English was spoken on either side!
Then Mila and I set out on our own. The Guide
Bleu is useful! I choose streets I'm sure contain historic
stuff. And as we wander we discover the Georges behind us.
We don't really do this as a quartet, but sort of in parallel.
[Bourges] is extraordinarily picturesque without sham medievalism.
The buildings are often medieval (late 15th Century half-timber) but
fixtures, signs, etc. are not. But still picturesque. We
work our way to the
cathedral. That is one impressive
building. I deliberately approach it from the apse end and intended to do the circuit, but Mila wants to go inside. This
we do. The inside soars. The five aisles are part of it,
because the inner aisles have such high arcades. The nave
appears quite wide and the vaulting is a curious sexpartite form.
Later we exit, tour the outside, have some ice cream.
We go back inside. Then we go over to the nearby park.
It is very formal in its arrangement. And there, lined up in
neat rows to orient to the best view, that of the choir and apse of
the church, there are benches. We join the locals and sit.
People promenade and greet each other. Babies in strollers and
the venerable with canes are seen. And the inevitable little
dogs. It is really very refreshing.
We eventually pull ourselves together and head back to
the hotel. Near the theatre (an inevitable feature of these
cities) we run into Elaine and Jack Holden. She of the
ex-Junior League, etc. Eastern quality; he of the skiing, tennis,
yacht club, merry exterior demeanor. She structured and
organized; he appearing to be happy go lucky (now 60 years [old]).
She is interested in art history and preservation; he is along for
the ride. OK folks but they operate on a different level.
Anyway, I had earlier advised them of our "old streets," and they
had just completed some. We go back to the hotel together.
And we ready ourselves for dinner. About 34 of us have elected to eat en groupe at
the restaurant (50 f each).
It turns out to be a
five-course dinner which is quite good except for the final course
(a tart). We drink house wine. A carafe of white is 7
That was a full and pleasant evening, and we walk "home" as a
group. All in all, a good day (ignore "lunch").
road to Bourges and Patric's dinner. Wake up call at 6:00 AM!
Have to wait for bus to be loaded at back, but a few enterprising
types hopped in early. Stopped at Nevers for lunch & to see
cathedral (it was high mass & baptismal day so we didn't go far
inside but did see three babies in complete regalia arriving outside
amidst tons of parents, godparents, grandparents & friends—cars
screeching to a halt to take baby to doorway). This town also
sports a Ducal (Duchessal?) Hall & a theatre—all in gorgeous
Renaissance style. People are rather surly & O.D.'d on all of
those bag lunches (we eat with Rosann who complains about people
On to Bourges via country roads (Patric is from this
place so consequently knows it all well—Patric is also arranging the
dinner tonight—rumors abound that his aunt runs the restaurant and/or
that all of its employees look like him—we shall see.
On a very high positive note—Bourges turns out to be a
delight. We are told beforehand that the hotel is "quaint"
which seemed to be the kiss of death, but it is quite the most
delightful-looking place so far—small room with a "quaint" (yes!)
old wallpaper (new, of course, but a copy) of flowers in pink,
coral, lavender, green & blue with a floor-to-ceiling French window
with dark pink drapes—windows look out over "quaint" passageway with
a half-timber house on other side. Ceiling chandelier & side
lamps are in teardrop design of dark rose & clear crystal.—has an
"antique" desk, table & two chairs & two bedside tables. Each
room has in-the-wall cupboard/closet—one room for toilet, one for
bath—bed had blue velvet cushioned head & footboards & seems
short—hot water gray metal seven foot radiator—pigeons & birds
We set off to Archduke's Palace on a tour narrated by a
rather hostile guide who spoke "authoritatively" in French—very
interesting though—nicely restored—much original. Geo & I go
on by ourselves to visit antique streets with half-timbered houses &
finally the great cathedral of Bourges—of course magnificent, but
the great thing is that the stained glass windows are being restored
& look truly jewel-like. Also visited the formal park
adajes ajescent next to the cathedral
along with the French people promenading. Ran into Mitch
recovering from an enormous climb up to top of one tower, bought an
ice cream, walked around & came back to change. Magpies all
over—made clicking noises.
Don Holloway's flowers—had acquired small carnations,
mums, other flowers which he holds on the bus (Ken says it gives him
something to do) & keeps in vase in room. He is a very strange
On to dinner. Marvelous (le François).
Patric really came thru—started with paté with pickled melon (like
cantaloupe with liqueur?); some kind of bird (conjecture—partridge?)
with little peas; fromage & cherry tart with two bottles of
white wine ordinaire for only 14 fr! Had a really great time
in a typical family restaurant with other patrons around. (Geo
tried to keep one unfortunate type out, saying the restaurant was
closed for a private party.) Staggered back on foot with Tom
leading the way—we saw the hotel where Jack Parker presumably was
eating at & sure enough we turned around & here he came! Went
back to hotel & slept.
JUNE 9, 1980
Continental breakfast: Hotel Christina / 7 a.m.:
Luggage in halls / 8 a.m.: Bus departs for Paris, via Auxerre, Sens,
Troyes, Provins, and Rampillon / Lunch on own in Auxerre
description of afternoon activity or dinner]
/ Overnight: Le Grand Hotel, Paris
It is time to leave Bourges. People have staked out seats in
advance, to the point where there is confusion as people board who
have not. Eventually things are sorted out, but it dampens
the start. Some people mutter about preferring to stay longer
in Bourges. Others are worrying about their tally of things
yet to see elsewhere. It is time to scatter this group, if
only for awhile. Breakfast was really beyond the capacity of
the one girl handling 45 people at once. My coffee was
absolutely cold. And so forth. Oh my. But tempers
We head off and our first target is
arrive at the bus park and then march briskly up the hill-street to
the church. It turns out to be quite impressive and quite big.
tympanum is inside, of course, and not well lit.
Much of the key sculpture is careful replica, giving a rather clean
and new look. We see two relics of the
Madeleine in a column
on which a sculpture of the saint stands. After touring the
interior with some care, Mila and I go out behind the church.
There is a little park and several lookout points toward nice valley
views. From there also one gets a nice view of the church.
Then it is down the hill to the bus and to go on to Auxerre.
Auxerre has three quite interesting churches, a nice
group of domestic architecture, and it is a lunch spot. I take
off for lunch, hunting an appropriate brasserie away from the
churches. We find one, quite non-tourist, and we have
omelettes. While happy in our isolation, "we" are
discovered by Harry Schalck and
Don Emerich. They are OK and
they eat behind us and we all appreciate the change of pace and
Then we head for the big church, the
Cathedrale of St.
Etienne. As we leave the restaurant, I turn around. We'd
been in a half-timbered oldie!
The church is quite good Gothic. Very little
restoration in evidence, but conservation is needed. Also
there is some interesting glass. When Mila and I entered, we
were alone! It was quite an experience. Later Don
Emerich entered. But we were still non-en groupe.
We return to the bus on time to discover some of our
people are missing, including Earl, our leader. Obviously they
ate afterwards and that was not [well] timed. They arrive
twenty minutes late and so more tempers are short. We had
rushed for nothing.
Then it was on the freeway back to Paris.
If people were objecting it wasn't too evident to me. I too
was ready to return to the degree of independence that the Grand
Hotel and Paris provide.
On our arrival, after Rosann and Earl go in, Blake
Alexander made the announcement on the bus re: the gift of the
bedspread for Earl. At my request he also mentioned the book,
of which I was in charge. We then debarked to find the hotel
was still not ready to assign rooms (despite a call five hours
earlier that we were on the way). We adjourn to the "sitting
lobby" and mail is distributed. We have a message from
Joann Soulier with a telephone number. It is as we had
scripted it earlier when no calls came to us in Nîmes or
Clermont-Ferrand. We anxiously await out room assignment so
Mila can call.
We have our
room, and we head for it. As we enter and put down our hand
luggage, the phone rings! It is Joann, in Paris.
Jean has just been put on a plane to Bangkok for/on a reciprocal
visit of dignitaries (or some such) to Thailand. We are to
dine together with Joann tomorrow. She will meet us in the
lobby of our hotel. (Later I think we should have specified
reception, but that seems logical.)
Mila and I then go out. We discover that
the only billets for the performances we can see in the Opera are
And for 20 f no less. We say no thanks. We visit
Galeries Lafayette, a very large department store in three
buildings (after casing Le Drugstore). Galeries Lafayette is
equipped with a central court and glass dome in its main structure.
Quite impressive. We find cassettes of French recorded jazz for
the boys. That is an ideal gift for them. Exiting, we
hear Dixieland! There, by the entrance of Galeries Lafayette
is a quartet: banjo, cornet, clarinet and washboard (and cowbell).
They are good! As Mila goes forward to put a franc in the
banjo case, she is knocked over slowly and gracefully by a rushing
pedestrian. She is all right except for her dignity.
From there we return to the hotel, and then excursion
forward once again to have some supper. We find an Italian
restaurant/pizzeria not too far away. We have a substantial
minestrone (vegetables at last) and fettucine. Also a small
pichet of rosé. It is really a good meal and relatively
cheap by Paris costs.
Then back to the hotel for bathing and a long sleep
without a wakeup call or alarm necessary. Our room is low in a
court, and there is neither view nor much else. But it is
quiet. To sleep and perchance not to dream. It is
R&R tomorrow plus some little chores.
trouble getting started for breakfast since maid
didn't get there until 7:15 to start coffee etc.—finally
ate late. Started off after we finally found seats to sit down
in back of bus. Started off for Auxerre, got there by
10:30—had a lovely cheese omelette & limonade, saw
cathedral. Earl & Seattle party was very late coming back so
we went straight back to Paris getting there about 4:15: horrible
wait for rooms. We had just got into ours when Joann called!
(She'd previously left a message.) We're having dinner with her
tomorrow night. Checked at American Express to see if Matthew
had written yet (no), went to Galeries Lafayette to buy cassettes
for boys, watched Dixieland band & fell (rather, was knocked down by
a running woman) in trying to give them a tip. Ate in an
Italian (yes!) restaurant—had vegetable soup & linguine & rosé wine:
all very good. The restaurant was efficient & apparently
popular because it was filled by the time we left. Tomorrow we
are leaving the group (hurrah!) to "do our own thing"—check out TWA,
see Eiffel Tower, tour the Opera House (we tried to get tickets for
Boris Godunov but only ones available were no visibility).
JUNE 10, 1980
Continental breakfast: Le Grand Hotel / FREE DAY
word struck through; handwritten by George:
afternoon La Marais]
(Optional walking tour of Left Bank,
including dinner on own) / Overnight: Le Grand Hotel
It must be Tuesday because the museums are closed on Tuesdays in
France. If I were organizing a tour I'd worry about that, but
I'm not sure Earl is a museum person. Regardless, there are
things to do. I finally got up into/on the Eiffel Tower.
I really enjoyed the experience. In my own way I was back in
1889 and could sense the experience of going up in an elevator which
one can look out of while ascending. And there is Paris
spread out like a carpet.
The tower is put together with simple elements and a
great many bolts (rivets?). And the work in general is quite
open except at the three ėtages (complete with restaurants on
the first two). Plenty of souvenirs and other nonsense,
including small Eiffel Towers with thermometers. They cost 40
f or more, so I avoided that bit of schlock. There are
different prices for the three levels and one uses one elevator for
levels one and two, and two elevators for level three. All are
staffed and the movement of people is remarkably efficient. On
the third level there is Eiffel's office, with two mannequins
within. A curious insertion.
From the tower we descend and take a bateau.
We see the Seine operating as a major transport route, see the
bridges close up, and see the architecture along the way. It
was OK and certainly worth doing, but not notable.
In the process of doing these things, we also got our
tickets reconfirmed, seats selected, and explanation of how to
handle things at the airport in Boston (have the TWA agent there
handle bags in the post-customs race to the next plane, etc.).
It was time well spent. I also changed a bit more money.
The rate was OK.
It was nearly 2:00 p.m. by the time we got back to the
hotel. I went out and got some yogurt, apples, and packages of
German pumpernickel (the last an
error) and we snacked.
Then over to the Opera for a limited wander-tour.
We saw the major public places. The lavish treatment is a bit
mind-boggling. We were able to enter one loge (box) and see
the auditorium. That is wretched. Not only in
arrangement but as a space. It is small, crowded, and the
Chagall dome is totally out of scale and inappropriate to the rest
of the decor. It isn't just a matter of style. I think
Chagall is not a muralist in any sense of the term.
Sight lines, except for the orchestra, are a disgrace for at least
half the boxes. Some visibilités
We then walked over to the Madeleine. It is
big. And the interior is heavy. Napoleonic style has its
Additional walking and back through the Place Vendome.
By the time we reach the hotel it is about 5:30. We've been at
it for most of the day. I'm tired and need some rest.
After all, we are going out again in the evening!
We wait in the "sitting lobby" and ahead of schedule arrives Joann.
She appears unchanged since our visit eight years earlier in
Cambridge. Lovely and gracious as ever. We head for the
Metro. I, overgallant, furnish the Metro tickets. We
exit at Palais Royal and walk through the arcades to a little
(emphasis little) restaurant. We sit outside and have a
splendid dinner and chat. Joann, spiritually, is across from
me as our host. We take two and a half hours for dinner and it
is past 10 p.m. when we are through. The dusk light is nearly
gone and there is a chill in the air. It is time to part, in
the station of the Metro. There is to be further contact by
phone before Joann leaves Paris. Mila and I finally return to
the hotel. A splendid evening to remember.
Rained early this morn. Had breakfast (on time) at 7:30—took
the Metro to Left Bank—Arc de Triomphe area. Went to TWA to
confirm reservations & to reserve seats on both plane flights—had a
very informative clerk who helped a great deal. Walked over on
way to Eiffel Tower—changed some money—Tower opened at 10:30—waited
in line for tickets—many groups of students (the younger
French types especially intrepid). It was an interesting trip,
though—there are three levels (you pay for how high you want to
go—we went to highest). You can get off at any level you
wish—there was some haze reminiscent of NYC's Empire State Building,
but still one could see for miles—on one level if you had trouble
with heights, it would be a bit much—actually the ride up in the
little car was one of the more interesting aspects.
We came down & walked over to the Seine where we took a
boat ride (had to wait another 30-40 minutes—lines & more
lines). This was a covered one & at the last minute a huge
group of French schoolchildren were loaded aboard. They got a
bit frisky & had to be spoken to by the captain. It seemed to
take less than an hour. Then staggered back to hotel by way of
Metro (now 2:45) & George had to go out to the Drugstore & get some
yogurt, apples & bread for a snack. Then went out to Opera for
a "you're on your own" glimpse (they let you see only isolated
parts) of the inside—all a bit overwhelmingly ornate (circa 1870s),
especially Grand Salon. The theatre itself (seating around
2,000) was interesting, but has awful sight lines in many places.
I'd hate to spent $50 & see only half a set (chorus of 400).
The orchestra of Boris apparently sat up on stage in costume!
The set was thrust out over orchestra pit. They had the grand
staircase roped off but one could see all of it, etc.
Walked on to fashionable Rue St. Honore for the high
fashion shops & Place Vendome—the traffic is almost too much to bear
& grates on one's nerves and one's sinuses due to exhaust fumes.
(Still no letter from Matthew.)
We bathe & go down to meet Joann who is early too!
She has not changed in the least (though I suspect she dyes her hair
since it is a lovely red again & back in 1972 it had grey in it).
She had on an exquisite silk dress of pleats—beige, etc.—which she
kept adjusting the belt of, got confused in the Metro ("If there's a
wrong way to do something, I'll do it"), still giggles, & is simply
enchanting. I guess she'll never be the grand dame, wife of
the ambassador. We are outside on the grounds of the Grand
Palais—which was a charming vista, but eventually because cold
enough to drive us away—also a black cat crept around, climbed
trees, & brought a dead bird in its mouth once. Had champagne
& Armagnac omelette (Geo had spinach pie), duck frites &
lemon sherbet—all delightful. [Joann] gave us some exquisite
silk pillow cases. We parted at the Metro—she [said]
JUNE 11, 1980
Continental breakfast: Le Grand Hotel / 8:30 a.m.: Bus
departs for Reims and Laön /
Lunch on own in Laön / [no
description of afternoon activity or dinner] / Overnight:
Le Grand Hotel
We assemble at 8:30. The group, minus four or five, is quiet
and somber. We board the bus and ready ourselves for Laon and
Reims. This will take us through 1914-1918 Western Front
country. On the way to Laon we pass Soissons, and we see
battlefield markers and several French military cemeteries.
But the battlefields of so long ago are verdant fields of grain.
Laon [has] an interesting
church. It is, indeed,
as if the various experiments of the Romanesque (plus a few others)
were tried on for size in a new and bigger form. It is at the
edge of a promontory, and there are other old structures in varying
states of repair adjacent. One walks along a curving,
medieval-sized street, dodging autos and trucks, and then there it
is. We combine our visit with lunch and some of us buy
charcuterie and fruiterie stuff. Others, of course,
prefer the cafés. I'm beginning
to think that our schedule is set more and more by time for eating and
drinking. More rude comments on that later.
We finally set off from Laon to Reims. It is a
short drive, and soon we are there.
Reims Cathedral is an
interesting combination of the devastated old and the carefully
restored. The facade on the west is particularly impressive
and shows this combination. Inside, there is more of the same,
but here the restorations are much more complete. But it is
all done with considerable grace. The north transept, on the
outside, was being worked on and was covered with scaffolding.
It has gotten to where I know it is old if it has some scaffolding,
revival if not. That, of course, is a dangerous
generalization, but largely useful. But that is the way of
things and it must be accepted.
Reims is a major tourist church and thus is less
used-looking than some we've seen. Usually there is one
chapel, perhaps two, that shows evidence of the faithful and their
activities. One thing about Reims is the installation, here
and there, of modern glass. I've noted three general types.
One is a random pattern using much blue and red of the scale of the
12th and 13th Century work. It reads correctly as to the color
but little else. There are also modern windows with very
little of the intense colors. These let in a lot of light and
since they are reduced in chroma, the abstract pattern isn't
disturbing. There is also old pattern windows with or without
imitation of old style figures. There is only a little of
that, some at Reims.
At Reims also were some Chagall windows. If not
Chagall, than an imitator. The scale of the figures and
placement of the colors is wrong for Gothic as his painting is for
the Opera dome. Effective glass is not just color (and Chagall
does have lovely color). He fails to comprehend the rhythms
and the proportions of the architecture. Indeed, I suspect he
had no awareness of other than the size and shape of the field on
which he worked. Enough of this tirade; on to another.
Reims is champagne country, and needless to say Earl
and his followers had to sample a café about fifteen minutes before
we were told to assemble by the bus, promptly. The last
stragglers turned up nearly twenty minutes late and without concern
for the majority sitting in the bus. Granted, we were simply
going back to Paris, and there was ample time, but it did mean that
people who had rushed or not seen something they wanted to, were
inconvenienced. I lost my cool and complained. It was to
no avail and apparently misunderstood re: my wanting to do some
business in Paris for which I would be late. Ah well, I did
Mila and I did decide that tomorrow would be the last
group tour. That will give us Friday and Saturday to do Louvre
(aspects) and whatever else we wish.
Upon returning to the hotel, several people elected to
eat together. Katie Woodbridge had a place in mind,
La Bonne Fourchette. It was within walking distance, near the Place
Vendome. It is small, pleasant, nice atmosphere, and good
food. All told there was eight of us. It was a pleasant
evening except for a defense of Earl's "leadership" when someone
complained about some decisions or non-decisions. Happily, it
was beyond my sphere of participation, and it was quickly terminated
by mutual decision.
We returned to the hotel to discover it strangely dark
in the lobby. And then when we reached our room, we heard a
steady throbbing noise. It finally dawned on me: the power
employees had hit this area with their slowdown, and I was hearing
the auxiliary generator(s) of the hotel. I went rather quickly
to bed since we were faced with a 7:30 bus departure in the morning.
Lord—how long can one go on with Earl as our leader—he & his
entourage, as nice as they are, spend time dining & drinking when we
are all supposed to be back at the bus. G & I are sufficiently
annoyed that I can't see this going on much longer.
We leave Paris at 8:40 amidst rain for Laön,
an interesting old medieval city—we walk to the cathedral thru
crowded streets lined with small shops. We buy some ham pies,
apples & chocolate to eat later on. It is quite cold & windy.
The cathedral is interesting & we eat facing away from the ramparts
while talking to Yona. Back in bus 1:30 for Reims—see rows
upon rows of French graves from WWI (battlefield around these
parts). Arrived (presumably for 1½ [hours] which lengthened to
2) & found cathedral quite magnificent—hard to tell exactly
(even with glasses) just how much has been rebuilt. It was
extensively hit during WWI from 1914 onward—[while we were there] two children were being
trained as acolytes. Outside particularly interesting with
marvelous gargoyles, dogs, leering faces, angels, etc. The
church this morning had steers, oxen, etc. on top in honor of all
the brute force it took to build church.
Ride back wasn't too thrilling, though the sky was
wonderful: clouds white & black over flat green fields—naturally got
into a traffic jam going into Paris. Plan to go out to dinner
with assorted motley crowd, including Mitch, Yona, Jack and who?
Blake & Marian. Electric slowdown tonight. Big generator
on full (same thing at 6:45 next morning—all lights go off. We
may never get breakfast or get off).
Lovely dinner at Le Bonne Fourchette with heavy damask
ceilings & walls—thus muffling noise. Had crudités:
cucumbers, beets, carrots, cauliflower, lettuce, tomatoes.
champignons & an elaborate dessert: little miniature creampuffs with
chocolate sauce & lots of white wine: a very pleasant group, food &
JUNE 12, 1980
Continental breakfast: Le Grand Hotel /
handwritten by Mila
departs for Beauvais, Amiens and Arras /
Box lunch (from Hotel) en route
[no description of afternoon activity or dinner] / Overnight:
Le Grand Hotel
The alarm was necessary. I tottered into the bathroom and got
myself pulled together. I had asked for breakfast at 6:45.
Precisely at that time all the lights went out. The power ploy
was on again. Within a minute at least one generator had
kicked on, and within five minutes we had lights and breakfast
came. We were lucky. We heard horror tales on the bus of
people who had been "knocked up" for breakfast at 5:30 a.m.! A
not very good way to begin a long day.
Rosann came to the room about 7:00 a.m. to sign the
book. The result of that was that I forgot to take my pills
today. I decided not to take them on my return and simply pick
up on it tomorrow. I guess I'm getting tired. I've begun
sleeping on the bus, a sign of inadequate rest, or a routine that is
unsettling or something. I guess it is about right that we go
home on Sunday.
Well, we headed off for Arras. It does have a
couple of Flemish-type places and a curiously cold 18th Century
cathedral. A half hour would have sufficed, but we
spent an hour. Then on to Amiens. We are in the Picardie
battle zone and en route we were seeing military graveyards, French
and English. Looking at the "rolling" fields of grain, I tried
to visualize trenches and devastated no-man lands with blasted trees
and farm buildings. I almost succeeded, but it is so pastoral
now it is hard to displace the present image.
We see Amiens. There is scaffolding on the
outside, and the
cathedral is still the dirty dark grey punctuated
with pigeon droppings. The cathedral, we discover, is closed
until 2:00 p.m. We had arrived at noon, and ate a box lunch by
the Somme. It was an adequate spot but undistinguished.
The lunch is something I eat selectively—and
very little. Why we can't have sandwiches and fruit (and
sandwiches can be bought in France) is beyond me. Enough of
that. We eat quickly to see the cathedral, hunt for places to
dispose our trash (a real problem here) and then learn we have
more than an hour's wait to get inside. More evidence of
careful advance planning. (Tut tut, I'm complaining.)
This time I really do see the outside. Finally we get inside.
Scaffolding is up at the crossing. There is a sense of repair
rather than use. But we can see the proportions quite well.
Also, someone is playing the organ, and that is quite impressive.
It is time to go on to Beauvais. We have only a
half hour (but then it is only
half a church—hah hah!). The
exterior is curious, needless to say. The south transept is
the entrance. And the church is tall. Inside, one
becomes conscious of the narrow spacings on the columns, and the
rather steeply pointed arches of the side aisle arcade. There
is work going forth on this church too, but it has a warmer quality
than Amiens. The latter is, I now think, more a facade.
Bourges was a grand interior. Chartres was spiritual.
Beauvais is curious.
But now back into the bus to continue into Paris.
I doze again. Yes, it is time that I retreat from group
activities, at least as much as I can.
I have 23 names in the book, not quite as many as I had
hoped, but this hotel (with 600 rooms) isn't conducive to this sort
of activity. And we are tired and somewhat surly on entering
the bus. No one wants to go anywhere but to his or her room.
And I can't blame them. Well, the others will have to sign
tomorrow night for our grand farewell buffet. Wonder what
that will be like?
Dinner was once again at La Bonne Fourchette.
This, after walking here and there. Our choice came partly
from a lack of vigor to search, and also last night's pleasant
experience. This time it had some very loud-talking Americans
(like we [were] last night, no doubt). Near us was a fugitive
(by voice and appearance) from New York/Las Vegas/ Miami Beach.
He was apparently meeting with two newly arrived visitors
(Americans). He also seemed knowledgeable in French on Europe.
But his whiskey gravel voice, gold chain, etc. pierced my
consciousness. On the other side was a lone, very tense man
who managed to smoke three cigarettes with his three-course meal.
These too are the realities of French travel, at least
Earl has changed schedule again & we are supposed to leave an hour
early; apparently, as it turned out, some of our group had been
wakened at 5:30 with breakfast(!). The electric power went off
at 6:45 & the generator had to be activated again—Rosann appeared in
our room to sign Earl's book at 7:15 & they had to have the "lusty"
men load the lunches on the bus. By the way, the bus hasn't
been cleaned since we set off on it almost three weeks ago, so one
easily can imagine the interesting pile of dirty towels in the lav,
Arrive at Arras fairly early. We are into the
country of the Somme now, so many graves of WWI soldiers, especially
British. (There was a plaque on the outside of Town Hall in
memory of the collaborators who were shot by Germans there.
Lots of memorial plaques for American, Australian, New Zealanders,
British soldiers who died during the wars, especially WWI.
There was one in memory of
Raymond Asquith (Cynthia's
brother-in-law). A lot of them died in the defense of Amiens
Arras is an interesting, almost Northern town with two
interesting squares & lots of "local color" & no real churches
(hurrah)—Geo photographs two dogs on sidewalk: one tiny, one huge.
Spent hour there, then on to Amiens. Eat lunch by River Somme,
gulp smash gobble in ten or twenty minutes so we can RUN to
Cathedral & be finished in an hour. Guess what? Earl
forgot that Cathedral was closed from 12 to 2, so we had to sit,
me being bilious until church opens. It was worth it, though.
I was about the second person in (we could hear intriguing organ
music inside) & lo, a huge peal of magnificent organ playing
Messiah (well), later Bach & [in] this huge church. There
are extensive repairs being done on it, so much of the statuary was
draped in plastic & there was a lot of scaffolding. Still &
all it was a great experience with that organ music—so much so that
Earl had to drag us out on to Beauvais—by this time we are nearly
gassed out by poor ventilation on bus—getting excessively hostile to
one another, especially to Earl. We are told this was the last
time on this bus & we left it, mess & all.
We got back about 5:45 to rest. Tried calling
Joann twice to no avail. Out at 7:00 to hunt for new
restaurant but ended up in the one from the night before, but all
the magic had gone due to 1) warmth & humidity, 2) seated
elbow-to-elbow on both sides to smokers (including pipe & cigar!) &
everyone seemed to be loudmouthed Americans who wouldn't/couldn't
speak French. I felt decidedly insincere, so went home
early—washed hair which would NOT dry & put it up wet & went
to bed at 11:00—pretty good sleep.
JUNE 13, 1980
Continental breakfast: Le Grand Hotel /
8:30 a.m.: Bus
departs for Meaux, Senlis and Pierrefords / Own picnic lunch
(or lunch on own in Senlis)
/ 8 p.m.: Bus departs for Club Boule de
Golfe, Versailles / Cocktails on own / Grand buffet and farewell
party (with music) / Overnight:
Le Grand Hotel
We are independent of the group today, and so have breakfast at 8
a.m. and are out on the street after the bus has left with some but
hardly all of the troops. We check first at American Express
and find three letters: from Matthew, my mother and Mila's.
All, apparently, are well at home except the weather has
etc. (It is warming up here too.) My mother's letter and
Matthew's convey an address for a shop for Charles Schwartz,
husband. However, we are on our way to the Louvre and will
investigate the address once I can locate it on a map.
We arrive at the
Louvre a few minutes before it opens.
We enter in the first group and thus do not fight crowds until later
[when] there are a lot of Japanese tourists who have "creative"
cameras and take each other's picture in front of the Venus de Milo,
etc. It was actually unwatched by anyone but me when I saw it
the first time.
Parts of the Louvre are closed, so I saw no Ancient
Near East, limited Roman, no Etruscan. A reasonable amount of
Greek. Part of Egypt is closed, but I do see
Sepa and Nesa,
who were more impressive and bigger than I expected. The
Seated Scribe is exquisite and smaller than I recalled. There
were fragments, painted not carved, from
Methethi's tomb. I
was surprised by two very large wooden sculptures from the
early Middle Kingdom. Some great quality
fragments. Of the Greek things, the
Lady of Auxerre was there.
Quite small but powerful.
Venus from Milos and the
Samothrace are not different from my expectations or memory.
The Apollo Piombino is smaller and more delicate than I anticipated.
No indication of cultural origin. In fact a lot of works do
not have labels or rather sparse labels.
At some points I am reminded to look at the
architecture of the Louvre. Some areas are powerful and
deserve more attention than I've been giving them. The Galerie
d'Apollon is an attraction in itself and we get there just before it
is closed for 1½ hours for lunch.
We turn to French 19th Century painting, particularly
the big Deleacroix, Davids, etc. They are impressive. I
Raphael's Belle Jardiniere and Leonardo's work. The
Mona Lisa is in a case and dark (to protect it). We see
Poussin's Rape of the Sabine Women which really ought to have
David's Sabine Women as a
companion. We review Rubens's
Marie de' Medici cycle, a truly powerful grouping.
We have a yogurt snack and sit down and then survey the
sculpture galleries. This is all newly installed and really
quite impressive. I pay special attention to
We have been at it for close to four hours. It is
time to retreat. We check at the Comedie Française and learn
there are no tickets left, no surprise. We have a spot of
lumch (so-so but not too expensive) and walk back to the hotel by
way of other streets and shops. Everything is so incredibly
expensive in contrast to costs in the U.S. that one is not tempted
to buy. The Guide Bleu to the U.S. is 110 f; it
is half the size of the Guide to France. 110 f =
$27.50. It would be a curiosity but not worth it to me at that
price. We are spending less than I expected, but that is
because I see little to buy at the prices quoted. Well, I have
one more day to face that choice.
We finally assemble for our grand farewell buffet and
party. Everyone is all dressed up and seem determined to have
a good time and end the official aspect of the tour on a most
positive note. This even though I hear that the bus excursion
was, in the words of one, "the worst yet."
There is some delay
re: the bus, but finally we are on our way along an industrial side
of the Seine I had not seen before. We even see the equivalent
of slums, collapsed stuff in a backwater behind Ile St. Germain,
etc. We even see, before all of that, a section of absolutely
new architecture of all sorts. This is in the southwest corner
of the Paris. The architectural complex of both low and high
rise is genuinely interesting, but seen too fleetingly. We pan
by the Sevres works and museum.
We arrive not at Versailles Palace, but out in that
general direction at a very elaborate country club. Our host
and hostess, Earl's friends, of the opening dinner are our "hosts,"
though we of course will be paying the principal tab. The
grounds are truly beautiful, and there is an elegant buffet and
wine. At what I feel is the appropriate moment I call for
attention and act like a Director of the Society of Architectural
Historians. I begin by thanking our host and hostess on behalf
of the Society and the other directors on the trip. Then I
make my presentation of the book with appropriate and hopefully
witty comments re: the lack of all signatures, etc. I believe
it is carried off adequately. Then there are other
presentations and we head for our dessert. Our host and
hostess then go table to table, passing out perfumes for the men and
women (samples to be sure, but a generous thought). Then the
champagne comes in, another gift of Earl's friends, and there is
recorded music to dance to. Many of us retreat to the terrace
for air and final (?) conversations, since Saturday is free of any
We finally are able to board the bus past midnight, and
it is about 1 a.m. when my head touches the pillow. The ride
home was more attractive than the ride out, including our use of the
Seine-side (rive droit) road. I do believe we made the
transition back to a congenial group, now remembering the best of
our experiences, talking about seeing each other at the annual
I've given some thought to the problems of this trip,
and without rehashing or second-guessing the details, I've come to
the conclusion that the slowdown at
Nîmes came too early, and there are
problems re: the Paris aspect due to the conflict of attractions.
The Greek trip was two intense, pressure-filled weeks and one week
on the ship. That helped.
We had Paris again on day/evening #19 (counting the
flying day as day #1). I see no ready alternative to the
schedule, but if I had to generalize, the role of the schedule is
number one. A benign but present authority of a leader
is second. What we see is third. The schedule
clearly relates to what we see, but one can try to do too much with
a real potential for lousing [up] any schedule. Therefore, I'd
recommend making a list of things to do and then working out a
schedule. Based on the schedule, one then deletes or
substitutes things to see. Where it must be a fleeting stop,
there must be time to explore on one's own or in small groups.
In large cities, walking tours have to be linked to bus
transportation (as in U.S. annual meeting tours) to avoid logistical
problems. But enough of that.
Friday the 13th: in spite of some humdinger cramps both
digestive and menstrual, this day was pretty good. We started
out at 9:00 at American Express to get mail (three letters: Matt,
Grandmas Ehrlich & Smith) & ran into Don Emerich & Gary (neither of
whom went with the tour today—Don said he'd seen the bus leave
half-full but with Elaine up front, hunting for pastries no doubt).
Walked out to Louvre (looked in at Comedie Française—noticed they
were doing Tartuffe tomorrow matinee—later tried to get
tickets but complét). In spite of noise level of some
groups, especially French schoolchildren & Japanese, Louvre not bad
at all. We actually had some rooms to ourselves briefly,
especially Egyptian. Quite interesting objects. Louvre
in process (as with everything) of being remodeled or something.
Large section closed, unfortunately much of what Geo wanted to see,
but rest of its (in spite of or maybe because of?) vastness
seemed civilized & beautiful. Salon of Apollo (originally a
state room) quite ornate & gilded, houses "royal jewels," crowns of
Napoleon, Josephine's earrings, etc. Each door had emblem of
one of the Muses. Had a yogurt & fizzy in lunchroom looking
over Tuileries?? Proceeded thru much of painting section
(mammoth paintings in some rooms) ending with early 19th Century.
Finally at end of Grand Salon found small WC (three stalls) & no
Stagged out at 1:30 in humidity, over to Comedie
Française to find out no tickets; hunted for restaurant, found small
brasserie for omelet (me), quiche (burned—Geo) & much-needed tea.
Walked back (long way) to Galeries-Lafayette to price candy.
Reasonable but huge packages not attractively presented. Will
try tomorrow when we go out hunting for the "whatever happened to
Aunt Ily" caper. We have address of her husband's bag shop,
but there is no record (address or phone number) of it in phone
book. So now two people are missing: Joann & Aunt Ily.
Back to hotel 3:30 to rest my aching back. After
all, tonight is the big party at the Tennis Club at Versailles
(naturally Earl doesn't know the way). Geo alternates between
watching a TV show of soccer (they just used tear gas on the
spectators to break up a fight) and snoozing. I am trying to
pull together my belongings & decide what to throw away. It is
distinctly warmer & muggier. It's about time to go home to the
lots of police sirens—is it the weather or the strikes?
Notable things: washing down & sweeping off
streets in mornings. Girls with high heels (especially ankle
straps or sandals). Girls holding hands & kissing each other;
everyone shakes hands or kisses when meeting & leaving one another.
Pigeons (I've never seen a squirrel but Geo did: grey). Motor
scooters (or cycles) on sidewalks mowing one down (ditto cars in
streets), exhaust fumes, cigarette (or whatever) smoke!
Stuffy inside unless windows or doors open.
Apparently the group's Friday tour was another
Earl-fiasco—I was alternately intrigued & appalled to hear of the
various nightmarish events, fights among the factions, etc.
Even Mitch was less than enthusiastic.
We joined the group all gussied up in surprising
costumes (Mrs. Kent in a mohair stole & rust lace—Harriet in a white
wedding gown); to supposedly get on the bus at 7:45. It didn't
arrive until 8:00—no doubt no one had bothered to tell the driver of
changes in plans. (Previous to this, George had watched TV—a
pelvic & breast exam & Sesame Street—1, Rue Sesame).
We got aboard the smelly bus & sat for another ten minutes—then set
off for the
Versailles Golf Club. It started to rain; but the
setting was gorgeous with green grass & lovely flowers (huge
Menu I saved. The same two "host & hostess" (she
very vivacious & [both] apparently old—since age 17—friends
of Earl) who had sangria cocktails &
huge buffet including all sorts of salads: cold tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach,
corn, rice, cold lamb (and beef?), eggs. Red wine
thruout from a keg. Cheese, strawberry tart (on fresh baked
shell) & at the end they brought out champagne! That was wild
enough, but it had followed the series of presentations of gifts—Geo
presented Earl his book in a plastic Sofitel bag as a "memorial"
(whoops) sorry, memento of our trip (some people found it hard to
applaud), then Blake (thru pursed lips) presented the bedspread
in an old pasteboard box, then Earl presented the hostess with a
painting of her & Rosann too. Then Jack Holden presented
Rosann with a Chanel scarf & Dr. Ben [Schneider] with a piece of
chocolate (for taking care of the sick people). Due to the
repressed (suppressed?) emotions, I was eating too fast (or
something) so by the time the champagne came out & the disco lights
went on & Jack [Parker] kept wanting to dance, I was feeling
definitely bilious. Went out to outer terrace while people
from our group waltzed, tangoed, discoed & generally tore the place
up. Yona, in her backless & nearly frontless dress, was much
observed but alas not much admired. Too much breast isn't that
intriguing. I think Geo had OD'd on mammary glands by the
close of the evening.
By 1:00(?) or so they managed to drag hysterically back
on the bus & go back to Paris in the rain (saw an accident with many
police) & to bed late. But I did sleep well until after
JUNE 14, 1980
Continental breakfast: Le Grand Hotel /
FREE DAY / (Optional
guided tour to Versailles or Fountainbleau — transportation, entry
fees and lunch on own)
Le Grand Hotel
We slept late. We do some shopping, this time in the
Department Store. I find it less elegant than Galeries
Lafayette, but it is large and diverse, also in several buildings.
I've decided to buy a number of Michelin Green Guides, which will
help me recall what we saw south of Paris. It is about the
best price, and for once cheaper than in the U.S.
grands magasins are in typical Parisian
structures and they are crowded and to my eye chock-jammed with
displays and people. There are smaller shops, and except for
the tiny ones (and even some of them) they are jammed with stock.
American-type interiors, with a low density of display in fairly
large space, may not be too common. There was no attempt to
look at this fully, and I may be in error. It would be
interesting to have seen the interiors of the magasins at a
complete imitation of an American shopping mall on our way to the
buffet last night. Two grands magasins enclosed either
end, and the entire [mall] was in a sea of parking (little cars however).
But if the exterior is imitated, the people are different and
probably the interiors reflect that. Well, that is rather off
the track of today's events and activities.
After returning to the hotel for a brief rest, we set
out the scout the address my mother send me for Charles Schwartz
(Swartz?). It is raining slightly and we wend our way with
umbrellas father away from the tourist areas than ever before.
We pass through a street of stamp vendors (philately). We are
among the furriers (suppliers, etc.). We see kosher meat and
wine shops. We see some spray printing [graffiti] which I read as mild antisemitism. And then suddenly a lot of blacks and others who
are swarthy. This area must have Tunisians, Moroccans, etc.,
hence Muslims, hence the spray paint? Some of the "fast food"
places sell sandwiches labeled Tunisian. They are on round
buns and have goop and stuff jammed into them. This rather
different from French sandwiches which use baguettes. Though I
must admit I saw American type sandwiches on sliced bread here and
We are finally at this address. It looks totally
abandoned on the outside. Certainly there was never a shop
there. We enter the court and it too is largely sterile—no
shops. After some snooping we gather some visual evidence that
a Schwartz had a parking place. Also we saw a sign for
Charles Maroquinerie. But it is barely visible, almost as
if it is ancient, and as we look upward at windows we see neither
light nor activity. It is, after all, Saturday and if this is
a manufacturing or a wholesale place, it could well be closed on the
weekend. I hesitate to start interrogating people on the
street or in nearby establishments, given my limited capacity at
We move on and eventually find a Self Service Cafeteria
(that is what they are called: service and cafeteria are French, but
this is pure Franglais, based on American). It is, however, a
non-tourist place in every sense of the word. There is
curiously however a carafe of water on every table. And in
Toulouse, there was water also available from the tap! Bottled
water is purchasable everywhere, but this is a curious variant.
We buy ready plates: steak dinners[?], pommes frites, and
haricots verts. Mila also has a yogurt. Our
lunch is 33.40 f, which seems much in U.S. (a bit over $8),
but rather cheap for a
plat chaud in Paris.
We start down Rue du Faubourg St. Denis toward Porte
St. Denis and we are on a fascinating street of food shops of all
sorts and sizes. Butchers, practically on the street at their
chopping blocks; fruits and legumes and fish places, etc. It
is extremely active and curiously attractive in its crowded and
As I write this, I realize we walked the street before
eating, which was in a place [on] Boulevard St. Denis. This put us
by a Metro stop, so after concluding our so-so lunch, we went
underground and reappeared at the Place Concorde and the Rue de Rivoli. We did the
Jeu de Paume as our museum for the day.
I paid particular attention to Manet, and I saw Gauguin to
advantage. I found the early Cezannes without a hint of the
later artist, in contrast to the early Delacroix, Ingres, etc.
I watched Japanese tourists photographing each other in front of
paintings. The rain made things a bit heavy in the museum.
There was air conditioning upstairs, for Monet, Van Gogh, etc., but
not evident downstairs for Degas and Manet. A curious
situation. We are allowed to walk in with bags, coats and
umbrellas. There is however a guard rail in front of
Suddenly I am tired! We walk the Rue de
Rivoli to Rue Castiglione, Place Vendome and Rue de la Paix to the
hotel. I then rest in a chair so as not to conk out.
Mila rests, then packs. After all, tomorrow morning is our day
for departure. Perhaps I should do the same. Later, we
will go out to eat.
While I've been writing this, there was a short intense
shower. It is one of those days. The umbrella is still
So we go off by Metro to Rue de Bac and St. Germain.
We begin walking east on St. Germain and there are drops of rain.
We are equipped with umbrellas and walk or stand under awnings when
it gets a bit heavy. There are huge crowds out. It [the
rain] eases up and we start across St. Germain and as we are
caught by the lights on an island in the middle, the heavens open up
and it pours! Well, on and off it rains and we go looking for
a place to eat. We are fairly far along and we see a small,
narrow street with some restaurant signs. We enter the
street, which I believe is Rue Gregoire de Tours. It has
miscellaneous places. One looks possible. A modest
prix fixe, small rows of tables, and Mila says it is a Greek
restaurant. As we enter, we hear that unmistakable music.
There are very few in the place—we are early, 7:30-ish. We sit
at paper-covered tables and order. Notes are made on the table
paper to record the order.
The food is so-so, but as we eat the place fills to the
gills and there is a wonderful sense of frantic behavior on the part
of the male staff, "dancing" through narrows spaces to serve the
people; only the girl serving us seems impassive until she cuts
baguettes with what looks like a paper cutter. I finally look
up and around. There are ancient "half timbers" in the wall by
us and heavy timbers exposed in the ceiling. By the time we
leave, there is enormous bustle and people wanting in. It is
the price—not the food. We had lamb chops, and these were
broiled to a crisp on the outside and bloody inside (OK) and we had
rice and pomme frites.
But it was fun. We wander over to
Rue de Buci and then on to Rue Dauphine. We head down it,
across Pont Neuf and by the Louvre, Palais Royale and up the
Boulevard de Opera. As we enter our room, we hear music and
singing from the
Salon de Opera. Mostly violins and waltzes,
etc. As I write this, the music is silent, but one can barely
hear announcements and then applause. It is 10 p.m. and I
think I shall prepare for bed. [We] will be up at 6:30 and in a
cab by 8:30 I trust. We've done most of our packing already, so it should be
no hassle once we are at the Terminal
Porte Maillot. I'm ready
to call it a trip!
Unfortunately the music has switched to amplified mod.
Went out about 9:30 in light Indian dress & Chinese shoes & no wrap
(because it was warm in our room) & found it chilly & fixing to
rain. Walked around awhile & returned to hotel after going
thru Printemps Department Store, buying six guidebooks & a candle
for Mother—went back to room to change clothes & get rain gear.
Went out in rather heavy showers to try to discover Aunt Ily's
husband's business's whereabouts. No luck—working-class
neighborhood, rather sleazy, lots of Africans—his "shop" (a factory)
turned out to be in a kind of warehouse area—no sign of any
businesses functioning there. We went in & looked around
courtyard, vaguely reminiscent of our Mafia area down by the
Went on down another street & came upon incredible area
of open markets, fish & meat, vegetables & fruits, Greek olives,
etc.—one after another down block after block. Geo took
pictures. Went into a "Self" restaurant & had two steak
dinners (I guess they were OK, we are still here) for 30 fr total.
I also had yogurt.
Took subway to Concorde & went to Impressionist Gallery
(near Louvre) along with hundreds of Americans (especially kids in
jeans with loud voices). It's a gorgeous collection, lots of
Cezannes, Manets, Degas, Van Gogh & an interesting display of
Gauguin's sculpture & paintings during Polynesian adventure. I
don't recall having seen his sculpture, ceramics, & stained glass
Walked down Rue de Rivoli & because we were tired came
home to rest. I am now almost entirely packed & I think I'm
ready to go home (to problems, heat/humidity or whatever). We
are going to eat final meal on Left Bank tonight.
It's 9:35 p.m., it's light outside, I am lying in bed in my PJs
while a gypsy orchestra & a soprano entertain a huge crowd of E.F.
Hutton people in the Grand Ballroom (of course the porthole windows
being wide open convey the sound up to us with amplification).
At least—in contrast to the HiFi amplifiers last time—this is at
least pretty music: "Speak to Me of Love," "La Vie en Rose,"
Hungarian dances, etc., punctuated by the clink of glasses, crockery
& glassware. (Amplified jazz band took over eventually.)
Back to tonight. We took Metro to Rue due Bac in
sunshine, walked a few short blocks onto St. Germain du Pres & the
heavens opened up & there was a deluge, a short stop & then another
cloudburst, us even with umbrellas getting bottoms of slacks
soaked—finally turned down into tiny side street & went into little
cheap Greek restaurant with loud Greek music, a frenetic waiter & a
hardworking waitress. Had salad & lamb chops & I had a creme
caramel, Geo almond cake (one almond almost landed in his umbrella).
Stopped raining, sun came out, & Indian bazaar & flower market went
into business again. Walked home. Will continue this
after I get to K.C.
JUNE 15, 1980
Continental breakfast: Le Grand Hotel /
Bus transfer of persons on group flight to
Roissy Airport / Group flight departs for New York City, Air France
No. 017 at 5:40 p.m. / Group flight arrives JFK Airport, 7:40 p.m. /
Tour ends. Persons remaining in Paris must make own hotel
We awake without need for the alarm clocks and are ready in ample
time for our last petit dejeuner at Le Grand Hotel.
Finally we are ready to clear the room.
There is no problem re: a cab; several are at the
station by the hotel. Traffic is light and we are upon our
destination, the Air France Terminal at Porte Maillot, very quickly.
We pay off the driver and descend to the bus level to see one about
ready to go. We board and are whisked out to the airport also
quickly. There are advantages to early Sunday travel in and
At the airport there are people waiting to check in
before the staff is ready to check them in. Crazy Americans
are early. Finally that too is done and we are shed of our
luggage except for our shoulder bags. We do the circuit of
shops and such on the passenger level of the central building.
We manage to spend most of our coins, but it is difficult. We
buy three packs of French gum, a paperback book (a
Maigret tale by
Simenon) and a box of nougat-type candy. Everything else is
too dear or inappropriate.
We ascend the elevators to take the moving walks to the
departure pods. We meet the Holdens (who are taking the
Concorde back) and then after another set of farewells, we go to our
gate. There we see Harriet Goins. Finally we board, a
little chaos instead of French orderliness. Hmm! We are
settled and ready. The flight leaves a bit late, and we are
scheduled for about seven hours. I make up my mind to sleep as
much as I can on this flight—and
We arrive in Boston about 25 minutes later than we
should. We have just a fraction over an hour to catch our
connecting flight. The bags arrive fairly quickly, and we pick
a customs line. We have a very methodical inspector in this
line. The girl at the station is really being given the close
scrutiny, opening bags, etc. I turn to the people in line
ahead of us and ask if they would object to our going to the head of
the line since we now have only 45 minutes left. They comply.
I do thank them most sincerely. Our inspector is still
methodical. He works over the girl's companion, etc. and now
it is our turn. Mila explains that our agitation (I felt
none—simply fatigue) was due to our concern over our connection.
Our inspector chats with us. I am asked to open my shoulder
bag. He sees my medicines. He looks at them while I tell
him of my ailments. And my profession, and the SAH Tour.
Finally we are through. Thirty minutes left.
We drop the bags (tagged to go to
MCI) by the TWA agent
and the conveyor belt. We tell her our bags are for Flight 207
and she acknowledges this, and off we go. We walk very rapidly
toward the domestic terminal and reach TWA. We scoot down
toward their gates, whip through security and hit a check-in section
to confirm seat assignments and receive boarding passes. We
have a few minutes for a WC stop, and head for the gate. They
are not yet boarding, but they are checking tickets and boarding
passes. Then it is boarding time. Clearly, we wouldn't
have made it if people ahead of us at the customs line hadn't been
generous. We settle (?) down for the three-hour flight to K.C.
We arrive about on time. As we exit into the
terminal I see no familiar faces. Then Mila spots Matthew
heading away from the gate. I shout softly. He
doesn't hear. I shout loudly. He doesn't hear. I
give out with a sharp MATT, and he turns. Apparently he had
just been dumped off by
Bob Dean who went to park. It was a
fortuitous chance sighting.
We wait for the bags—no bags. Finally we report
in to TWA baggage office. With Mila and Bob providing comic
side comments, I fear we will confuse the attendant. I shoo
them away and finish describing our bags and the circumstances of
their last known status. The fact that I finally realized that
the bags had the old flight number 229 instead of 207 may have
contributed to the problem. Ah well!
Then, once again gathered, we head for Bob's car and
home. Only we go by way of Mission, Kansas or even further.
Apparently we are going by way of a Kentucky Fried Chicken place to
take advantage of a coupon. We get a big box (fifteen pieces)
of chicken and head for home. The Deans have made a salad and
some beans, we paid for most of the chicken, we eat at our place
while I slowly wilt. I make some effort to sort the mail.
Finally, at 8:00 p.m. K.C. time, which is 3:00 a.m. Monday Paris
time, I beg to go to bed. I totter up and end my long
MONDAY, JUNE 16, 1980
I am writing this Monday morning K.C. time. I've called TWA
baggage and have learned the bags are in and on the morning delivery.
And so here I wait, the mail finally sorted, and once the bags are
in the house, I can say we have indeed arrived.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 18, 1980
Back in K.C., clean, cool (I'm sure NOT for long) and
semi-collected. As luck would have it, the terrible heat (100°
the day before we got back) had abated & it was only 85 or upper 80s
when we arrived.
Cooled off that night & has been cool—warmish
& dry ever since—a great help, considering our somewhat
disconcerting tendency to drift back to Paris time—or suddenly drift
off either into sleep or stare vacantly into space—a little like
having a Dramamine 24 hours a day.
Everything went very fast & smooth on Sunday the 15th.
Left hotel about 8:15 after having run into Rosann & Earl in lobby.
Went to Aerodrome & right onto bus for Airport (Genevieve was on
bus), very fast since it was Sunday morning & not much traffic to
fight. Got there about 9:30—had to stand in a line alone with
a lot of eager Americans (we seem to be more on time or early for
things than the Europeans) in line [for] Paris-Boston. Finally
got checked in & wandered around Airport, trying to get rid of
excess change: bought candy (nougats), gum, & (Hollywood)
[The airport] didn't seem too inordinately filthy (considering
cleaner's strike now past a month's duration) but lots of ground-in
dirt on floor. Used WCs & ran into Holdens on way to [their]
Concorde flight. Got on TWA & seats not bad: a young
intense Frenchman en route to post-doctoral work at U. of Wisconsin
in window seat next to Geo. We left 15 minutes late (an
ominous sign) but all well—very smooth flight, good food—all fine
except we were two rows behind smoking section of
Ambassador area & about five men chain-smoked & all the fumes
drifted back to us: NOT good. Finally ate (beef) & we were
starving by 2 P.M.—saw Coal Miner's Daughter—very good except
for interruption of people in aisle.
Arrived in Boston still 15 minutes late (in spite of
assurances by cabin attendants that we'd "probably" make the K.C.
flight) & apprehensive. Logan Airport [has] perhaps the most
streamlined, efficient customs I've seen so far. They had
everyone out & the luggage flowing very fast & without hysteria.
But we didn't get all four bags until quarter to 2:00!
Geo shouted at people in line, did any of them have connecting
flights & they didn't so we got in line at head—behind a young man
whose girlfriend was being "processed' SLOWLY—it was a very
thorough officer—made her (and her friend) open things.
We were semi-hysterical by 2:00 (our flight to K.C. left at 2:35)
knowing we still had to get rid of the bags & walk to another
terminal. He—the officer—only had one eye and was sardonic
("What's all this medication? High blood pressure, eh?") after
opening Geo's little bag. He suggested we carry our four bags
to other terminal but TWA agent said NO—bags would make it on
conveyor belt (famous last words). It was hot & muggy in
Boston too as we jogged to other terminal—as it turned out we had
about 20-30 minutes to spare—enough for us to go to WC &
wash—apparently NOT long enough for the bags to make it, as we
The plane to K.C. had empty spaces left & arrived on
time. We had another "snack" (not too thrilling) and I had
Cokes & 7-Up to counteract my thirstiness. Arrived in K.C. and
went out into waiting room to catch sight of Matthew in
peach-colored shirt rushing around looking for us. (Apparently
he & Bob Dean had just arrived & Bob was looking for a parking
place.) OK so far. The inevitable Clouseau ending to the
whole fable is that none of our four bags arrived in K.C. and the
turntable did not turn for us. As it turned out, it was just
as well since Bob's car could never have accommodated us and the
bags. But it was irritating nonetheless; Bob was running
around being Bob in a pair of white shorts—finally after a long time
& red tape we took off in his car for Johnson Drive to get a
"Bucket" of chicken—which we ate—along with baked beans & salad
courtesy [of] Marilyn Dean, & Coke. Went to bed about 10:00
after going thru piles of mail & minutiae.
Our bags arrived around 10:00 A.M. next day & the rest
of day was spent washing clothes & trying to sort thru all of the
debris. (Tim called.)
Spent Tuesday (a lovely sunny cool-warmish day) doing
"fun" things like checking mail at school, shopping on Plaza, eating
a hamburger & Coke at McDonalds & all sorts of touristy but fun
things, & helped clear head. Also saw "grand meeting" of
entire Mo Rep company (talked to
Juliet Randall, etc.) & saw
their (the company's) picture being taken—all very funny for some
Now it is time to take the yoke again—look at
submissions, clean up house, process slides & generally get back
into the swing of K.C. Life.
[undated, written on
a loose slip of paper in different-colored ink than used in the
Such a hopeful concluding entry on June 18th would prove to be
ironically inaccurate. The rest of the summer was
dreadful—unprecedented heat (17 days over 100°), no rain
(predictions of another 1930s drought),
Nelda's recurrence of cancer
(spread to the back this time), Paul's
nervous collapse (with many
weeks of trying to recover)—heat, endless heat. My final break
with Gloria by resigning at the end of July from Helicon Nine
& consequently severing my entire relationship with it & her and
that whole experience. Sad.