From Caen to St. Lô,
After checking out the famous fair, George came back to the hotel, worked on the umpteenth photo, got ready for a 9:30 departure (it is to laugh, per usual), and finally Diane, her son Kevin, Robert, and he managed to get in the car and get going around sometime around 10:45. Many of the streets were blocked off for the street market, and Robert nor the rest of those in the car of us had any idea of how to get out of the city until Kevin, ever competent, rolled down the window at a traffic light and asked some firemen for directions, and in fact they took us exactly where we wanted to go! This second car left the city limits at 11:06. A bit late.
Diane, George, Kevin, and Robert arrived at St Lô to find the others waiting for them before a cathedral that had been partially destroyed in the bombing for the Normandy invasion that devastated 95% of the town. The detail that Ruskin had drawn had been ruined by recent attempts to clean it, leaving everyone sad, until I found a matching one nearby. Left: The bombed out church with the restored portions in a different color stone. Middle left: Cynthia, Jim, and, Suzanne Varady, his friend from Geneva, who owns Ruskin's house there, in front of the cathedral. Middle right: A rare bit of color in this gray stone town. Right: Norma found this bag-piper (which in the middle ages often represented the male sexual organs — an off-color joke on the side of a church?).
The town of St Lô was absolutely, completely dead, not a person in sight, not an open cafe, so after giving the very interesting building a good look, the crew set off for Coutances, which has a gigantic cathedral in a very different style:
But before doing our Ruskinian duty, we trooped into a wonderful local creperie (the only place we could see open) and had an excellent meal. Some of us had the large wholewheat gigantic hexagonal crepe called gallette they serve in Normandy for main courses and then the usual crepe for desert. All wonderful.
Left: Robert and Jim at the creperie. Middle: Some interesting trees behind the cathedral. Right: Inside the cathedral.
Now to Bayeux . . .
Since we had caught up with the other party, we did not have to worry about directions and could just follow them to the last town, Bayeux, which had another very different cathedral (as well as the famous tapestry, which some of us didn't go see for lack of time) with lots and lots of funny little grotesques.
The Ruskin pilgrimages returned to the Ibis hotel in Caen and had dinner outdoors at the brasserie 100 feet from the hotel.
More about On the Old Road V — June 2010
- The Master of the Old Road sends an e-mail invitation
- George arrives in Rouen and finds himself in the Twilight Zone
- George meets up with the Ruskinians
- Lunch near St. Maclou
- Reading Ruskin in the presence of the work he describes
- Paul André Sement gets us into St. Maclou
- The Ossuary or Boneyard
- From Rouen to Caen with a stop at Lisieux
- With The Ruskinians in Caen — St. Peter's Church. William the Conqueror's castle, men wearing lipstick, and other grotesques
- With The Ruskinians in St. Lô, Coutances, and Bayeux — a long day
- The first two days in Chartres
- The last morning in Chartres
Last modified 5 July 2010