gothic cathedral

France day 6

July 27, 2022

“Pointillist picnic”

inside cathedral
That’s me with stained glass reflecting off my bald spot

   Of all the sightseeing I would just as soon avoid, cathedrals are at the bottom of the list. With castles and chateaux, you’re forced to walk through drawing rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, studies with endless displays of tapestries, depicting deer hunts and oil portraits of useless dandies and wretchedly spoiled children. To me they’re all living reminders of what a lazy idea of governance monarchy was. A powdered wig, an embroidered robe, a golden scepter, an inbred brain and the power over life and death is handed to you on a platter. Until your head is, anyway.

   Cathedrals would be a similarly cynical experience for me if there weren’t so many places to sit. I perfected my technique for sightseeing Gothic cathedrals with Carolyn, finding a pew or chair as would one of the faithful, and set her free with her camera. Carol has seen the wisdom of parking me like a support animal, and our latest cathedral visit, at Tours this time, went comfortably well and quickly. 

Except Carol is taking pictures instead of watering flowers and plants, and I’m sitting in wicker chairs and watching French life stroll by, instead of on a couch watching television. 

I always wait for Carol’s pix to see what I missed

   Well rested after the visit, I jumped at Carol’s suggestion for a picnic along the Loire River. Cheese, baguette, sandwiches, chips and a bottle of rosé on a brilliant afternoon along the river. It wasn’t a Seurat composition, but I think he would have sketched the pleasantness of our picnic, and filed it away as part of a bigger idea along the Grande Jatte, perhaps.

   We were closing in on our first week in France, and it couldn’t have been going better. Both Carol and I were not only on the same page, but the same pace as well. Tourists will jam their precious days with so many sites and activities that they return home exhausted and needing a vacation from their vacation. Six days into our trip, and our days were running not all that different from being back at home. Except Carol is taking pictures instead of watering flowers and plants, and I’m sitting in wicker chairs and watching French life stroll by, instead of on a couch watching television. 

A loaf of bread, a glass of wine and…I’ll be ready for a nap

   Except these past evenings, we have been sitting on a couch watching television as well. In addition to the Hawke-Delpy trilogy, we stumbled onto the Giovanni Ribisi series Sneaky Pete, and watched an entire season while in Tours and Orleans. Not saying this with any particular pride of achievement, just offering that not all vacations have to end with relief that they’re over.

   And I don’t at all mean to disparage those who travel with guidebooks and itineraries planned to the hour. Whatever floats your cruise ship, you know? There’s a lot to be said about seeing all the wonders of the world. There’s also something to be said about sitting in an outdoor café on a brilliant late afternoon and just wondering. 

   In Seurat’s famous pointilist painting, my favorite figure is the one lounging mindlessly in the red Italian dinner jacket, although all of them seem to be doing almost nothing, which Carol and I perfectly rendered today on our picnic by the river. 

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