(Last post about my recent vacation, I promise. It didn’t feel like a complete series without this.)
Our final day in beautiful old Bordeaux, and we had a few hours to wander before our 3pm train. We set out, cameras in-hand, following a glint of gold visible above the rooftops. We passed blooming gardens, like the one above, all along our way.
Rounding one last corner, we found ourselves in a broad square at the foot of the Cathedral Saint-André.
The oldest part of the church dates to the 11th century. In 1137, Eleanor of Aquitaine was married here. We didn’t go inside – save that for next time! – but the walk around the perimeter was wonderful. How often can you walk right up to that marvel of Medieval engineering, a Flying Buttress?
Further around came the decorative stonework. From everything I’ve read, Eleanor’s husband, Louis the Pious, hated the Southern French tradition of adorning churches with fanciful creatures and gargoyles, believing it to be “too worldly”. Eleanor, daughter of a powerful Duke, used her own monies to fund the construction of the nave in the 13th century. Lovely statues line the walls.
But wait! What’s that peeking over Our Lord’s shoulder from above?
Is it any wonder that their marriage didn’t last? Well, there was also the little matter of the way he treated her people… but I digress.
And what of the golden gleam that had drawn us to this place? The gilded statue we could see from a distance? Ahh, there she is.
Our Lady of Aquitaine sits atop the Tour Pey-Berland, A bell-tower that bears the name of the bishop who oversaw its construction in the 15th century. She’s only been there since the late 1850’s, as the top of the tower had to be rebuilt after the Revolution. It’s open for tours, and if you can climb the 231 step to the top, I’m told you are rewarded with stunning views of the city. Maybe next time, we’ll give it a go.
We strolled slowly back to the hotel, left with just enough time to enjoy lunch at the outdoor cafe. From our table, we could watch the people in the square, and remarked again at the many forms of transportation in use in this city.
A few minutes later, on the same site:
There are also buses, and, of course, taxis. The old underground Metro seems to have been turned into parking for private cars. Skateboards, believe it or not, are also used to get from here to there – when they’re not in service as a way for young peacocks to display their ‘skilz’ to attract members of the opposite sex, that is.
A wonderful trip, I thought as the train rocked back towards Paris. Truly wonderful. Thanks to John for his planning, and driving, and spirit of adventure. Thanks to all of you for letting me share it with you.