Saturday, June 16, 2012
No absinthe. We'll have to get it in Paris. I'll get some before I leave for home. I'm determined. We were on the road early this morning, allowing time for distracting excursions. We found one in Lisieux. Any Catholic girl would recognize that name. Does "The Little Flower" ring a bell? Saint Therese of Lisieux. We recognized the name of the town as we were passing through, but weren't sure if we were right. We figured we'd find something about her in town if we were right. Sure enough, we passed a little sign about the House of Saint Therese. So we went. We also needed to go to the bathroom, and figured we'd find one there. And we did. But we also went through her home. We saw her dining room, her first Communion dress and the toys she played with before she entered the Carmelite convent at age 15 in 1890. About the same time Vincent Van Gogh died, only two and a half hours away from each other by car today. Now I know I am sounding really really Catholic. But I'm not. France is really really Catholic. Cathedrals and abbeys and saints' names for every street and public sculptures of religious figures everywhere. Everywhere. It's all very familiar to a girl who was taught in a Catholic school. It's a part of me. We left St. Therese's with Alice in the back seat suggesting occasionally that we have to be at Van Gogh's by 5:30, and we had a 2 hour drive. We were cutting it short. So I drove as fast as I felt I could safely in our little black peugeot, quiet and smooth as a car can be. We sped through the highways, through the little towns, around and around the roundabouts, weaving in and out of traffic and arrived 2 hours later at Van Gogh's room, 10 minutes before closing, much to the chagrin of the people who worked there. They seemed a little peeved to have 3 American women stumble in at closing. We were ushered into a little room to watch a short video, which made me cry. Then to his final bedroom. Not the one we were expecting. Not the one we've seen painted by the artist. Totally empty, except for a little chair, totally reconstructed to appear like it was. A disappointment. But the little video beforehand was worth the trip to me. We ended up in the gift shop, of course, and bought posters and books. And decided to have a drink at the bar he frequented, only to have the door shut and locked just as we arrived. A little bit of a bummer. But we headed off to our hotel 10 minutes away, where we have the place to ourselves. Literally. It's an old estate, and after we checked in, the staff left. So Alice, Katie and I have been all alone in this chateau, finishing off our camembert and bottle of wine. Tomorrow: Kippys home. La Bonne Etoile.