Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Our 3rd Trip to France begins - 2009

Sitting in a little cafe in North Melbourne enjoying a caffe latte and reading the Melbourne broadsheet, the Age newspaper, I saw cheap air fares to Europe. We'd not long returned from France with no thought that we would return for many years to come.
I rang Sue and told her of the cheap air fares - she said, "How can we afford to to this?" - Me being the eternal optimist said, "How can we afford not to?"
With a big fat tax return on the horizon, 12 months to save and with a little bit of luck and some hard work resulting in a few commissions, I thought we could do it. After all I did have my long service leave owing after 10 years with the same company.

"Where should we go?"  I said to Sue - "Why not back to France!", "Oh yes please", she said.
Once she has a "bee in her bonnet" beware. Researching began with the force of Niagara Falls.
North of Paris - return to the Loire - drive over Burgundy to Dijon, Lyon and then drop off the car and TGV it back to Paris for a week. "Lovely", I said. "Lets do it".
She said, "But how" - I said, "We'll find a way - we're dead toooo long".

Before we knew it, we were in the queue at the airport to book in with our luggage. Sue had pre-booked our seats and to her dismay, Emirates had changed our allocated seats. Dismay and disappointment - that is until they told her that we had been upgraded to business class for the first leg of our journey.
A glass of Moet Mrs Sims and Happy Birthday, hope you have a nice flight. She did enjoy the lobster tails.

She was in heaven literally, that is until Dubai by which time we were back to cattle class. By the time we arrived at CDG Paris we were ready for bed. We'd booked a room at the airport for the first night because the leased Citroen office was located there and we felt a good night's sleep was conducive to safe driving after 26 hours in the air.

We'd just come from the airport hotel  after picking up our leased Citroen and then drove to Senlis which is in the region of Oise only 40 kms from Paris.
Our first real night in France was Senlis, 40 kms north of Paris. Senlis came to my attention in a cycling novel I'd read a few years back and its history intrigued me. In the Roman Imperial times it was known as Augustomagus and there are still remains of the amphitheatre not far outside the ancient city walls.

The very first King of the Franks, Hugh Capet, eldest son of Hugh the Great was elected there in 987 AD before being crowned. Senlis was the home of subsequent French Monarchs due to its closeness to the Chantilly forests where the hunting was the main sport of the day. Chantilly would be the next stop for us on the following day.

With a population of around 17,000 Senlis wasn't going to be too difficult for me to navigate on our first day of driving on the right hand side. I always get a little nervous on the first few days.
Senlis is worth a visit for its Cathedral which was constructed between 1153 to 1191. The old city is well preserved and walking along the curved narrow cobbled streets on a spring morning was delightful.

Sue reads the maps and absorbs herself in the history of Senlis.

Senlis' Cathedral Notre Dame

We entered those huge wooden doors and as we walked down the central part of the cathedral, we turned to see the light shining through the Rose window above and the many stained glass leadlight windows.

She's every where in the north of France - Jeanne D'Arc. From Chinon to Senlis.
I could be wrong and most probably am when I guess that this may be Saint Denis who walked from Paris to Montmartre holding his head in his hands after being decapitated.

The craftsmanship of the ceilings within Senlis Cathedral are certainly worth taking time to appreciate.
 Unbeknown to Sue I took her on a short drive that eventually led me to a velodrome that was described in the cycling novel I mentioned earlier - surprise, surprise. This chance appearance of velodrome sightings, strangely reoccurred many times during our time in France. And why not??? Cycling is very much of French history. As a young cyclist, I couldn't wait to hear news of Anquetil, Poulidour and later, Fignon and Hinault in the magazines that took months to arrive - today is the internet within moments of a race finish.

Yes, I know that this is a boring photo but its what brought us to Senlis. The description in the most appalling cycling novel I've read....of a team vying for an entry to the Tour de France. It was a mixture of a Sam Spade and a Hercule Poirot detective story. Yet, if I had not read this drivel, we may never had paid Senlis a visit.

Starting on January 1, we will be posting a daily picture series of French scenes for the following 365 days from our collection of the four trips to France and possibly from the impending May 2012 trip.
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  1. Love the Senlis Cathedral it is quite beautiful, glad you read the drivel :)) Not long to go now and you will soon be back getting masses of photos for us to see more of France. I love these tours, thanks. Wishing you all the best for 2012. Diane

  2. That cathedral is stunning - is it Gothic? I can imagine the ambiance inside would have been quite magical.
    Seraphine de Senlis the French painter spent many years living in (as her name implies) Senlis. Did Sue come across any mention of her name there - or maybe even a gallery. I love her art works.

  3. You guys have to know France better than me.
    I sure hope you get to fly first class the whole way through for Sue's 60th. Anything over 4 hours is torture to me. (I shouldn't complain as I am very lucky to have travelled so much, but as one gets older, it takes a toll between packing, flying, jet lag...).

  4. Diane - We love these tours as well. Back in 2006 we thought our first trip would be our last. A once in a life time thing. Little did we know. BUT, we are jealous of you having a home there.

  5. Dianne - Yes it is of Gothic style.
    No I had not heard of Seraphine but googled her - what color in her paintings but what a sad life in latter years.
    I'm about to hunt out the movie of her life, have you seen it yet?

    PS - You have inspired me to set up a new blog to use up 4 trips to France not yet used. One every day for 365 days.

  6. Nadege - I'm sure that if you had time to Blog, you'd have some great stories to tell. As a reader you have certainly recommended some great blogs to me.


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