Surprise and Delight
Monday, April 26,
Today we leave for Paris following a route which takes us a little off the beaten path in order to visit Bourges, a university town and cultural mecca. The history of Bourges goes back to Gallo-Roman times. The old part of the city, with its beautifully-restored medieval quarter, is still contained within the original city walls. It is dominated by one of the finest cathedrals in France: Saint Etienne. Balzac is said to have declared that "all Paris is not worth the cathedral at Bourges".

Designed by an unknown architect who perhaps had Chartres in mind, the Gothic interior is enhanced by an astonishing collection of stained glass.

Buried in the 12th C. crypt is the Duc Jean de Berry who was a benefactor of the cathedral and associated with one of the most beautiful of medieval illuminated manuscripts. Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. Treasures are found in many of the chapels including Gobelin's tapestries from Raphael's 16th C. drawings.

As we continue north west we travel through the enchanting valley of the Loire River. The river described by Oscar Wilde as "mirroring from sea to source a hundred cities and five hundred towers".

Later we shall stop in Illiers-Combray, the little village church

immortalized by Proust's A la Recherche du Temps Perdu where he describes his holidays as a child. The Marcel Proust museum

and Aunt Loonie's house in Illiers-Combray evoke these experiences. Closer to Paris we see the "cathedral of cathedrals". Chartres whose wonders are never exhaused despite repeated visits.

After that, we visit Zola's house,

Train rail was built next to Zola's house, but it seems that he was not really bothered by the noise of trains passing through several times daily.

take a good look of the photos, that speak for themselves.

"Sandoz planned to get them all together at one of his regular Thursdays and they still gave him more pleasant than anything else" (Masterpiece)
Zola used to have dinner party on Thursday at this dining room

We reach our hotel in Paris in late afternoon. The Hotel Cayre which will be our home for the next five days is conveniently located and promises comfortable rooms and good service. After settling in we depart by foot for dinner at the well known Brasserie Lutetia.

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