Orléans (Part 4)

The main cathedral here is kind of a big deal and seemed to be undergoing a bath.

More photographic evidence of the holy ghost?

Like I said, I have a thing for organs.

In Orléans, I took special note of details. Like the corrosion of this church arch.

And these lions holding a door handle

And this plump dragon

I must have looked so strange taking pictures of front doors

And door knockers

It took me a while to accept that these houses actually have wooden beams on their faces, and that they aren’t just painted on. In America, I have only ever seen them painted.

This here is an actual leaning house. I wondered if we had heatstroke or if we were imagining things. But no, it really was lopsided.

This house looked so striking and unusual, but there was nothing to indicate that it was historical or special.

There was another church, but far less grand. I liked it a better, because outside, there was park where people were playing bocce ball. It felt like a lazy Sunday as just another neighbor sitting on the park bench.

In retrospect, I wish I had taken a few more pictures of busy streets. Even modern ones. They would have helped me remember walking through the town, and the distinct character of each place. Churches and organs begin to blur into one after a time. I should have taken more pictures of every park, with its carousels, ice cream and cotton candy stands and little lakes and streams too. Perhaps next time.

That is what I repeat to myself in answer to any hint of sadness or regret: “it just means you’ll have to return.”

To be continued…

nb: this is part of a series on my trip to France

Château de Chambord (Part 3)

The Château de Chambord was built as a hunting lodge. When I told my mother this, she said “But it’s huge! A hunting lodge for all French people, you mean?” This is a bit out of order — in fact, the first picture is from nap time after the tour. Life was so beautiful.

See? A hunting lodge. They had golden deer. Unfortunately, they were hunted to extinction during the reign of King Louis XIV.

The roof had interesting geometric motifs and rounded domes.

The interior had chandeliers almost fancy enough for a dim sum restaurant.

But mostly, ceilings were of carved stone.

Note the salamanders. An unusual spirit animal, but understandable as they are refined by fire.

Imagine waking to this view every morning. “Neighbors” would be a distant memory.

One of the spiral staircases

The green of the grounds below

Hall of hunting trophies

Central to the floor plan is this double spiral staircase. N and I walked up opposing strands and caught glimpses of each other passing in the windows. Here, I’m looking up its hollow center.

The view from the roof

Greetings, minions!

For a few moments, it may have been just us.

It was fun to daydream, while dozing in the grass, about what a day in the life of the nobles might have been like.

To be continued…

nb: this is part of a series on my trip to France

Blois (Part 2)

Must I begin every post on France by perjuring myself? Okay, I’ll admit this is from the road between Dijon and Blois, not actually from Blois. But the clouds were just too fluffy to resist.

When we arrived at our accommodations, the woman helping us said there was nothing to see in Blois. Except a shopping mall. She was mistaken. Located along the Loire, Blois was one of my favorite stops on this trip.

The light streamed perfectly for every shot I wanted.















The entry to the town hall gardens

And the view from the terrace there


A few vases of fleurs kept watch










And right under this fountain lay a pair of young lovers. I felt like I was intruding.

We found a scarecrow. These two could be twins!

We wandered the old streets all afternoon

(N has the patience of a saint, because I stopped constantly to fiddle with my camera to take these pictures)

We made it to a royal palace. Snuck in actually, just near closing time. There were hardly any others.















There was a chapel, and it was just N and I, so I sang a few lines of Ave Maria. The echoes made my small voice fill the entire space.

The guard just barely let me take this. I begged, “just one!” And he agreed. “Just one.”

I’m not sure I ever knew what this building was

N tells me this is the entry to the above pictured palace. And now I remember taking a photograph of it only after we left. That’s embarrassing. Thanks for the correction.

We caught the sunset over the Loire as we walked back to the car

There were four windows in this pirate ship, but only two had curtains. We conjectured that the pirate got a girlfriend, and they learned to compromise.

I walked haphazardly along the wall, right down to the water. N said merely “If you fall in I am going to laugh at you.” With that comforting pronouncement, I made it safely, and was rewarded with this lovely, lonely fleur. A sweet ending to a day of adventure.

To be continued…

nb: this is part of a series on my trip to France

Dijon (Part 1)

So I lied a little. This isn’t Dijon, it’s my first real view of Paris — just outside Gare de Lyon. I was sent 6 pages of idiot-proof instructions for the odyssey of getting from CDG to Dijon, and this stop was where I took a nap. Yes, right in the train station, wrapped up in a silk shawl, lying on the train station floor like a homeless person.

The next day, we visited town — this is their town hall.

I went in the fountain. Though it was intended for children. I may have been asked my age. “Five”, I answered. “I’m five.”

I also went in this fountain. Then the cops came, and I’m told I looked very guilty. Despite that, I tempted N in too.

The church had all different goblins crouched, ready to devour your soul.

Inside, it housed a rather large organ.

And here you can almost see the holy spirit. So N tells me, anyway.

This building’s pillars were woven, perhaps in the name of art.

We visited wine country, and found a lost pyr who wanted so much for us to follow. We humoured him for a while.

On the wall of a cemetery, overlooking a razed wheat field, we contemplated how we all die alone. Or perhaps what we might have for dinner.

Ah, and dinner was good. Outdoors, by a fountain in the old town, we waited a good hour for food, and I made impolite faces when I had my first mouthful of andouillette. I understood nothing of the conversation, but I could feel the warmth and good humour of N and his family.

This was the window of my room (the office) at N’s house.

It was home for 3 days, and I even had a cat who loved me. The boys call her a traitor because she never sleeps with them, despite knowing them both a decade+ longer.

To be continued…

nb: this is part of a series on my trip to France

First time in France



This trip began as an escapist fantasy. I saw the above picture of the Mont St Michel, and wrote urgently to my friend N, saying

this is apparently somewhere in France.
and i need to go. i need to. let’s go.

It was brought to life the same friend, who believes that dreams really do come true. He’s experienced it in his life, so he sold his soul to enable us to have not only this trip, but also weeks of nice weather to follow us on our way.

There are a great many stories to tell, and my camera even lived to help illustrate about half of them. So gather close, nestle in, and let the dream begin. All further posts will be accessible from trackbacks to this post.