Mis En Seine

My kind  husband woke me at 7 this morning —with coffee!—so I could see our departure from Rouen.  It was pitch dark then; now I’m sitting by our picture window at the stern, watching the heavily wooded banks of the Seine, their white limestone cliffs,  slide by as we head for Les Andelys.
(The limestone is just the color of the white-grey cloudy sky.  I think we’ve only seen the sun for, like twenty minutes this entire trip—but as you know I ❤️That kinda weather, it makes everything so…cozy!)
But I forgot to tell you something about Rouen: in front of the dep’t store Printemps there were street performers! Two girls on stilts, two dancing with golden hoops—and a fire-eater! OOOP-La! as the French say, which means sump’n like, “Looky here!” The fire-eater was really spectacular; he would throw himself to the pavement and exhale plumes of flame as tall as he was!  The girls exhibited that bold gaze  which I think is quintessentially Gallic:”Yes, you are staring! Here I am, c’est moi—You want me, oui—but could you ‘andle me?”
Another thought: the part of Rouen (and other towns) adjacent to the river was completely destroyed during the war,if not by Germans then by the Allies; both sides wanted to destroy the bridges.  Same everywhere here—yesterday,  I learned  the Allies were about to destroy Bayeux, tapestry and all!  But some brave Frenchman somehow got to the Allied commanders that very morning,  and convinced them that in fact the Germans had left the town. (And grâce à Dieu for that—we didn’t get to Bayeux this trip, but the iconic tapestry, which is really a loooooong strip of Norman propaganda in embroidery, is really sump’n to see.)
Anyway, my point was that, when I was born, almost everything I am seeing here was in utter ruin.  One with Nineveh and Tyre.  And now, (I reckon thanks initially to the Marshall plan but more recently to good Ol’fashioned entrepreneurship) Lo! All is restored, bigger ‘n’ better,( if not prettier), than before!
A human lifespan  is a paltry thing, yet think what mind-boggling changes, what dizzying paradigm  shifts , it can encompass. At least, my lifespan has. 
Petit Andelys is as beautiful a village  as I remembered.  We climbed the hill up to Chateau Gaillard ( which means sump’n like mensch, goniff, cock o’ the walk) built by Richard the Lionheart , Duke of Normandy. Richard and his loyal Norman forces held out against a siege by the French for, like, 6 months, because the fortified castle had its own well, and also like a mini-farm w/ chickens and cows. Then we took a long walk along the  river and through the streets, stopped into the beautiful church St. Sauveur (where Ian insisted I sing again) . It was sunny but cold.  I went to the sun deck when we cast off, watched the chateau until it was outta sight.
On our way back to Paris now.🇫🇷


5 thoughts on “Mis En Seine

  1. So glad to have experienced this with you! The “river cruise” seems so much more civilized and fun than the ocean-going way of doing it. Did you get to interact with locals at all?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course. We walked 6 miles in Paris! And wandered around the other towns on our own too, but it was nice to have a brief introductory tour. To me the great thing is, your hotel moves with you, you don’t have to unpack and re-pack as you travel.

      Liked by 2 people

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