When the group moved on to Chartres, Kevin replaced George and rode with Robert and his mom, Diane, while George took the train to Chartres. Cynthia inquired for him at the hotel, and despite the fact that the young woman at the desk had never heard of Chartres (!), she found the train schedule. Taking the 12:19, he didn't have to go back to Paris and out again (!), but simply got on the train to Le Mans, the end of the line, and next took a local to Chartres, again the end of the line, so George couldn't get confused — good thing because the canned train announcements are loud, clear, and in such perfect French that he couldn't understand many of the names of the whistlestops. But French trains are superb: new, well-designed, clean, convenient, fast, on time, their onboard signs announce the next destination, and they all have outlets into which one can plug one's computer, so he worked on the photos during the two hours and 20 minutes the train ride took. The others? They took 7 ½ hours! Granted, they saw some Proust-related sights that had no interest for me, but still! Norma, who was still driving for Jim Spates, whose license still hadn't arrived, followed Jim's directions and took a slow country road so they could enjoy a scenic route. Jim's licence has finally arrived, and Wednesday morning, 30 July, Jim and Norma went to the car rental agency, so could finally be put on the rental. Reading George's last episode in the family-album report of the trip, his son Noah e-mailed him, “Looks like a really awesome but wacky, curiosity-filled trip!” Exactly.
Left: The first view from George's air-conditioned room at the Ibis hotel in Chartres. Middle: The view of reflections as night fell. Right: Sunrise Wednesday morning — at least George's pretty sure it's sunrise and not sunset the night before.
Left: Reception at the hotel, which is located right next to the bar. In the distance one can see the dining room, beyond which was the lovely terrace on which George, Norma, and Milt had dinner while the others went off to a posh restaurant . . . which was closed. Middle: The best way to the cathedral, George discovered on his return to the hotel Tuesday, was through this lovely park, which is a memorial to the French WWII resistance and also, as one sees at right, to those who died in WWI.
Left: A particularly kooky house George passed on the way to the center of town and the cathedral. Middle: The French seem obsessed with monuments to the glory they never achieved This elaborate monument seems to date from the Franco-Prussian war, which began when Napoleon III declared war on the Prussians, who crushed the French army, sparking yet another short-lived revolution and the end of Napoleon III. After the French lose a war, which they have done repeatedly since 1870, they forget about the loss, the Americans who saved them, declare victory, and put up lots of monuments to France's glory. It seems to work for them.
Right two: The famous cathedral and candles inside.
Left: More candles. Middle: The gazpacho served in a glass George had for lunch. None of us has seen this before, but it was quite good. Right: Two friends of Jim surround Pascal Debout, who wrote his PhD dissertation on Ruskin and teaches at the University of Strasbourg. The one at left is Laurance; Suzanne Varady, who owns Ruskin's old house in Geneva, Switzerland, is at the right. Jim met her some years ago when he went on another Ruskin expedition, found the house but no one answered the door when he rang, and hearing someone working in the garden he shouted out something like “Ruskin . . récherche.” Suzanne, who knew she lived in Ruskin's house but knew little about him, answered the door, invited him in for a drink, then dinner, and they became good friends. And obviously interested in Ruskin now!
Left: Kevin, Suzanne, and Jim. Middle: The group looks at carvings on the North entrance to the cathedral. Right. An interesting house George found on the way back to the hotel.
The last morning in Chartres
After dinner with the Howard Hull, Director of thre Ruskin Foundation and of Brantwood, and his American wife on Thursday evening, Jim, Suzanne, Diane, and Kevin went to watch the illuminations on the cathedral, which were fairly interesting. On the taxi ride to dinner in a residential neighborhood, we followed the River Eu, which George could see from his hotel window, and catch a sight of the cathedral between the trees. The next morning before breakfast, George retraced the path of the taxi and walked along the river. Left two: One of the first sights as one leaves the hotel and the hotel itself. George's room, hidden by the tree, is at the left and the height of the window at right (the black rectangle). Middle right: A little farther on one comes to this memorial to Anne Frank in the lovely park along the river. Right: The east end of Notre Dame de Chartres seen head-on in the early morning light.
Left: Some of the homes along the river have little private bridges. Middle: One of the stone bridges that cross the Eu. Right: another view of the cathedral viewed from the Rue du Massacre (see photo on next line).
Left: According to the sign the street had this name because it was formerly the site of a slaughterhouse. Right two: walking along the street, which paralleled the river, one comes to this old church.
Left: As one can see from this photo, which shows the ruins of a wide arch, either the church had its own bridge or the building itself spanned the river. Jim Spates thought the missing part of the stone arch was likely WW II damage. Middle: This picture makes likely that the building extended a good way over the river. The stained-brown clapboard wall, which one sees on twentieth-century buildings nearby, must be a new addition.
Now that this year's On the Old Road drew to a close, Diane and Kevin Leonard went off to Paris for a month, Jim Spates headed to Italy with Norma and Milt Wilson, and George started home via Paris.
An e-mail bearing the subject line "The Road continues" made its way through the ether on July 12th from the Herder of Cats: “Taken, this, an hour ago at the top of Le Brevant, across Mr R's sacred Chamouni Valley, his Mont Beloved glistening in the near distance. Sent, now, from Pierre a Ruskin, his favorite spot, about 1000' above the town a glorious view of Mt Blanc and all his Aiguille attendants. My, but he leads one a merry chase! Until next year!
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