Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Joan of Arc Was Here

Pages from Jan's Travel Journal: Monday, April 28, 2013

We slept in that morning, and after waking up over several cups of strong, fragrant coffee, we set out to meet Desmond. Even that small thing was a pleasure - walking the few blocks to catch the tram, enjoying the beauty of the morning and the lovely architecture of the old buildings surrounding us. It was a glorious, sunny day and we all welcomed the warmth. We strolled around town, heading toward the Cathedral of St Croix. We stopped at a little bakery along the way, where we bought some sandwiches for an early lunch. We ate them in the open air, sitting beside the fountain across from the magnificent cathedral. After lunch, we had time for a short tour of the structure before we were to meet with Desmond's students. The cathedral was breathtakingly beautiful both inside and out. The high, vaulted ceilings and the intricate stained glass windows were incredible!

A view inside the Cathedral of St Croix in Orleans.

One of the many beautiful stained glass windows.

After the tour, we hopped onto the tram for a ride over to the University of Orléans where we had an enjoyable time visiting with several of Des's students. One of them generously bought coffee for everyone, and another had brought along a paper bag filled with fresh, warm chouquettes, which are little puffs of pastry sparkling with pearl sugar. It was fun chatting with the students as they practiced their English, and I enjoyed learning something about them and the regions or countries from which they had come.

On our way back to the center of town, we stopped at a small market adjacent to the University. Nearby, we saw a sculpture that looked very familiar. It was a smaller version of Blackbear Bosun's "Keeper of the Plains", which stands tall above the river in Wichita, Kansas. This miniature version was a gift from Wichita, which is a sister city to Orléans. 

The Keeper of the Plains, a gift from Wichita.

Here is the original Keeper of the Plains.

Later, we bought a few pastries and took them down to the banks of the Loire, where we sat contentedly in the sun, enjoying our snack. The speculoos eclair I had chosen was delightful. Craig was happy with an apple tart, and Des munched a delicious-looking cherry tart. 

A tasty snack to enjoy by the Loire.

A boat on the Loire in Orléans, France.

We had our evening meal at the Grec Gourmand, where we had dined on previous occasions. The kebab sandwich and fries were tasty and filling. We had a bit of time to kill before the beginning of the Fêtes de Jeanne d'Arc, so we played a game of Phase 10 back at Desmond
's apartment. As we were playing, we began to notice many people making their way down to the banks of the Loire. Most of them were wearing medieval costume. Many band members also passed by, and we were soon following them down to the river. It was not quite dark when we reached the water's edge, and we were able to find a good vantage point from which to view the opening ceremony of the festival. There were many soldiers holding torches, and mock battles were taking place along the walk but soon all eyes turned toward the water, as Joan of Arc came sailing across. She disembarked and mounted a beautiful white horse to begin the long procession to the Cathedral. We were swept up in the crowd, and walked along for most of the way, hearing the speeches, but not understanding more than a word or two. As we continued down the Rue de Borgogne, it was fun to see many people almost hanging out of their apartment windows to witness the spectacle below. At one window, I counted at least eight people laughing and jostling for a view. It was a fun evening for all of us.

Waiting for Joan of Arc. 

RECIPE: Honey Peppers
This is a tasty side dish is simple and delicious! Just seed one or two red bell peppers and cut into strips. Saute the strips over medium heat in a mixture of equal parts olive oil and honey until the desired tenderness is achieved. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Serve hot.

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