Day 716: Chateau Gaillard

Once again on an excursion boat, Laetitia and her group headed south from Rouen.  They docked at Les Andelys and toured the village.  Then they toured Chateau Gaillard, a castle built by Richard I (Lion Heart) of England in 1196.  William the Conquerer and his successors to the English throne often retained lands on the continent.  Richard was the son of King Henry II (Plantagenet) and Eleanor of Aquataine.  He was born in Oxford but grew up in his mother’s court in what is now France.  As king, he was popular in England but spent little time there.  When not on crusade, he lived mostly in France and allegedly spoke little English.  Shortly after Richard’s death in 1199, his rival, King Phillip of France, besieged and took the castle.  Phillip’s army breached the inner defenses by creating a ruse in front while a small party scaled a back wall and entered the chapel through one of the castle’s poop chutes.  That tale of bravery above and beyond the call of duty suggested Laetitia’s limerick of the day.  The expression, “up shit creek without a paddle” usually means “beyond hope,” but these men were literally in that situation and won.

‘Tis a tale of bold deeds that I tattle
About warriors that weren’t in the saddle
And whose Gaillard success
Put themselves in a mess
Going “up shit creek without a paddle.”

Day 715: Rouen

Laetitia and her group boarded an excursion boat for a trip up the Seine from Paris to Rouen.  William the Conqueror, who left Rouen to invade England in 1066, and his Norman army were descendants of Norsemen led by Rollo.  The latter conquered the area and then made his conquest legal by entering a mutual defense pact with Frankish king, Charles, that required that he and his men become Christians and adopt the local language.  Later they intermarried with the local inhabitants and became integrated into Frankish society.

Mention Rouen and many think of the French Impressionists and Claude Monet’s more than 30 paintings of the cathedral.  He arrived here some twenty years after painting, Impression, Sunrise. The new style premiered by this painting wasinspired by landscape painter, Eugene Boudin, who viewed Monet’s caricatures on the beach at Le Havre and urged him to try something more serious.

Laetitia took her group on a walkabout in the town that included the modern church on the site where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, the statue of Rollo, the cathedral, and finally, the lingerie shop across the square from the cathedral where Monet painted. Monet rented half of the shop whose front windows offered a good view of the cathedral’s facade.  A screen separated his studio from the area where ladies tried on lingerie.  There is a rumor that Monet might have found more views in Rouen to inspire him than just the cathedral.  It is reported that after he left, a strategically placed hole was found in the screen that gave a view of the area where the ladies changed clothes.  Whether true or not, the story provided the limerick of the day.

‘Tis said in Rouen that Monet
Liked to watch ladies change lingerie
Through a hole in a screen
As ‘fore mirrors they preen
While new dainties they don and display.

Day 714: Dan Brown Frown

When Laetitia arrived at the Emerald Victorian and checked her email, she found one from Mind’s Eye Limerick Tours headquarters, wherever that is.  The message said that they had received a number of requests from Dan Brown fans for a tour of the sites in Paris featured in Da Vinci Code and asked her to arrange such a tour there.  As luck would have it, a local guide provided such tours so Laetitia made the necessary arrangements and went along.  They visited the Louvre and San Sulpice.  Priests at the late-baroque style parish church were at first alarmed when hoards of visitors began arriving after the novel was published.  Later, they put out a collection plate and a note saying that letters “P” and “S” in their stained glass window stand for their patron saints, Paul and Silas, rather than Priory of Sion.  The Rose Line passes near but not through the church.  The brass line in the floor is part of a solar calendar used in times past to determine the time of Easter. They didn’t visit the Swiss bank on Haxo street since it doesn’t exist.  Haxo is an anagram of hoax.

Some tour members were dismayed when they learned that Dan Brown played fast and loose with the truth when he wrote his novel, but it is after all, a work of fiction.  This observation inspired the limerick of the day.

Da Vinci Code author, Dan Brown,
Is a writer of fame and renown
But untruthful depiction
In this work of fiction
Causes some of his readers to frown.

Day 713: Seine Sin

On this morning a short time before 7:00 am, Laetitia walked down Hibernia’s Raglan Road with excitement.  Today was going to be her first tour in continental Europe.  Twenty minutes later, ensconced in a comfortable chair in the Emerald Victorian’s library sipping a cup of French roast coffee, she decided where to go first:  Paris.

Shortly thereafter, Laetitia and her group were standing on the platform at St. Pancras station in London waiting to board the Eurostar.  Two hours later they were in Paris.  Their time under the English Channel was only about 20 minutes.  Today’s group was mostly shoppers so they spent much of the day on Avenue des Champs Elysees.  Afterwards, they went to Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris and walked along the Seine toward the Eifel Tower.  When Parisians pronounce the name of their river it often sounds to native English speakers as though they are talking about a violation of divine law.  That thought inspired Laetitia’s limerick of the day.

The yen of a lady named Jen
For mad love in a boat on the Seine
Required some resolve
She’d a problem to solve
For she viewed such an act as a sin.