And then in the afternoon we went to Rouen - there was no hanging about on this trip!
Famous for its medieval streets and the Notre Dame Cathedral, we were deposited for a mere two hours to explore this ancient city. With so little time we were restricted as to how much we could actually visit.
The Notre Dame Cathedral was, of course a must, but even here we only had time to walk briskly round. Building began on the present cathedral in the 12th century but a church has stood on the site since the 4th century. In 1876 the construction of the Tour Lanterne (Lantern Tower) elevated the cathedral to the tallest building in the world, a record it retained for just four years. Monet painted the cathedral more than 30 times between 1892-93, capturing it in different light and weather conditions. In April and June 1944 WWII bombing raids badly damaged the south aisle while the North Tower was burned. Since then the Cathedral has been in a permanent state of repair. On the day of our visit there was some kind of fair in front of the cathedral with a display of folk dancing taking place. Visitors were encouraged to participate. It looked quite simple but I know from past experience this is not always the case. I was once persuaded to join a line-dancing display at the County Ground and discovered that I have absolutely no sense of rhythm and lack coordination or the ability to remember half a dozen repeating steps, an embarrassment I was unprepared to revisit. We pulled odd faces and shrugged, a caricature of the noncomprehending French tourist abroad - quite why I'm not sure, it just seemed to come naturally!
We gazed in admiration at the 12th century Gros Horloge - an astronomical clock - and the footings of another building, which looked as if they were probably very significant, but unfortunately not to us.
And then it was a sprint back to our coach, where we sat for more than half an hour as two of our party had misheard the time directions. I hoped we might clap and cheer in the spirit of our coach confinement and camaraderie when at last they arrived, but we sat in silence and tactfully ignored the fact they had kept us waiting so long.
Montmartre here we come - and it's still only Saturday.
|published courtesy of Jeri Dansky|
|published courtesy of Ben Bawden|
|Gros Horloge - the astronomical clock|
|Our meeting place - minus two|