Joan of Arc’s Rouen and Lionheart’s Les Andelys
November 7 – 15, 2009
- Updated Monday, Jan. 4, 2010
About 35 trip photos mainly taken by Betty Nolan are posted at www.ritzpix.com in an album entitled “2009 – France” under member name of Lewis “Buzz” Nolan’s email address. Email email@example.com for instructions on how to access. Note: captions were being added to photos in late 2009.
By LEWIS NOLAN
Nov. 11-12, 2009, Wednesday and Thursday – In
Sleep was fitful through the night. That was at least in part due to the sound of Seine River waves lapping the side of the boat and probably our “sealed window.” The noise from the engine room near our lower deck cabin awakened Betty about 4 a.m. She later complained of feeling seasick from the wobbly boat motion during the night, which may have been caused by large wakes of commercial shipping on this section of the busy Seine.
Flowers Planted in Rouen Mark Spot where Joan of Arc was Burned at Stake
At breakfast, Betty had only a cup of coffee and a few carryout, green grapes. But sound sleeper Lewis had another excellent breakfast of scrambled eggs, thin slices of ham and turkey, half of a banana, tomato juice and a glass of ice water. Presently, I subscribe to the European diet tip of eating a “breakfast for a king, a lunch for a prince and a dinner for a peasant.” I do enjoy a substantial meal in the morning even without all the carbohydrates that come with bread and pastry. In fact, I have had few carbs of any significance for five months; I’m pleased with the moderate weight loss I’ve worked to achieve despite insufficient exercise for the regime.
Our ship arrived in
During the Hundred Years War, Rouen was taken by England’s Henry V; in 1430 French peasant woman Joan of Arc was imprisoned in a tower there that now bears her name. She was canonized and made a Saint by the Roman Catholic Church.
Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in Rouen by the English in May, 1431. Large boulders in the town’s old market and a modern, Roman Catholic Church named for her mark the spot of her death today. Our tour of that location and other highlights was led by a middle-aged, female native of the city hired by Viking for the outing. It was plain to us that our guide, Marie, knew a great deal about the history and importance of Rouen’s sights. She obviously wanted to share every bit of her vast knowledge. But maybe partly due to her heavy accent as well as a radio plug in my left ear, I couldn’t quite understand some of her commentary. So I rapidly became rather bored with her commentary.
Our tour group of 20 or so passed by two or three very old Roman Catholic Cathedrals or churches. (It is my understanding that church leaders ranked Bishop or higher rated a Cathedral and regular priests a lesser structure). We also passed dozens of French businesses including a branch of the Paris-based Galleries Lafayette department store. However, most of the stores and offices were closed due to this day being the country’s Veterans Day holiday. Thankfully, the lack of native pedestrian or vehicular traffic spared me the scare and ruined shoe I got when a careless motorcyclist nearly ran me and Betty down on a walking tour in Italy a year ago.
Since we had been
well briefed on the saga of Joan of Arc the previous night by our ship’s tour
director, the great story of her brief life and her vaulting into being
considered the patron saint of France made for an interesting walking tour of
Rouen. We again “paired off” for part of the walk with our new friends Paul Granett and Gloria Solomon of
Back in the boat for lunch, we had what amounted to real American food – or at least an
excellent imitation of it cooked by European chefs. We really enjoyed reduced-carb, grilled hamburger patties topped with cheese and sliced tomatoes. They were served with Dijon Mustard on the side along with large salads of green lettuce and assorted garden vegetables.
Tired from the two-hour walk through the central town, I napped in our cabin for three hours. Betty read a book for a while in the boat’s lounge then also retired to a bunk bed for her nap.
That evening, we were treated again to another great meal of Continental Cuisine at dinner. Betty had slices of marinated chicken breast that tasted like turkey, served with Brussels sprouts and a Provencal salad of green beans and lettuce. I had salmon tartar for an appetizer, whitefish served with snow peas and a Caesar salad with freshly sliced Parmesan cheese. Afterwards, I enjoyed a small plate of local cheeses, a taste of Betty’s dessert of apple tart and a bottle of Beck’s low-alcohol beer imported from Germany.
We shared our table with Paul and Gloria plus another charming couple, retired high school teacher Walter Wimpenny and his wife, Marie, of Manahawkin, NJ. He had served as an adjunct professor at Farleigh Dickinson University, where several of my former associates based at Schering-Plough headquarters at nearby Madison had also served in leadership roles.
The next morning,
Betty and I had our usual breakfasts as the ship arrived at the very scenic
Because of Richard’s reputation as a warrior and for boldness, the French King Philippe Auguste did not dare try to dislodge the English. But when Richard I was succeeded by English King John, the French king first tried to starve the fort’s residents into surrender then attacked through the latrines after mining the outer strongpoint of the fortress called Chateau Gaillard in 1203.
Physically fit Betty joined a tour group from the boat to trudge up a steep path to visit the ruins of the fort that even eight centuries later command a majestic view of the river and rich farmland of the surrounding countryside. I was among the few boat passengers who decided to tarry in the village rather than take the uphill hike. I went into a store where the proprietor spoke no English but managed to purchase a souvenir thimble for Betty before returning to the boat.
I spent most of the afternoon in my fold-away bunk with an upset stomach likely caused by eating too much French cheese made from unpasteurized milk. Before eating cheese in any quantity or eating food made with diary products, I normally take an OTC Lactaid pill containing the enzyme that helps digest milk, a substance that seems to disappear in many men as they age.
The ship stopped at
Betty joined a small
group of passengers on a replacement excursion to Auvers sur
the small group of art fans toured Auvers sur
passengers like me
sailed further up the