Tonight we had dinner in Paris, just below the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris. The cuisine of choice was fresh cuts of cubed beef in a burgundy fondue. Tomorrow we’ll wake up with a few more hours to explore and our curious group will pick out a final adventure. We’ll then pack our over-stuffed bags bound for home. We’ve learned a lot, seen even more and in the coming weeks we’ll be posting more stories, student reports and favorite pictures. Thanks for following along! “Au revoir” from Paris!
Daily Archives: March 17, 2012
After leaving Rouen, we traveled to Auvers-Sur-Oise which was home to the brilliant post-Impressionist painter, Vincent Van Gogh. The artist spent his final days in a rented room at the Auberge Ravoux. He was there in that quaint, scenic town in the hopes of getting the psychological help he needed. In seventy days in Auvers-Sur-Oise, he produced seventy paintings before he died at age 37, commonly thought to be by suicide. We saw the place where he lived those final days and saw a few of the scenes he painted. What made it all the more special is Jane Mudd, (whom we affectionately renamed “Jane of Art”) gave us excellent, on-the-spot instruction about the paintings and the painter.
While in Rouen, we also walked in the shadows of Joan of Arc who was burned at the stake at this spot in 1431. Later in the 20th century, she was “canonized” or recognized as a saint.
Near the place of her death, there is a contemporary church designed in the shape of a boat with beautiful stained-glass. It was built in tribute to her heroism.
In addition to being home to a great Cathedral, Rouen also boasts one of the largest collection of medieval homes with over seven hundred. We walked through some of the medieval streets, noting their very distinct architecture. Alexandra, our tour guide, showed us how the second floor often sticks out further than the ground floor. She suggested it was an early “tax loophole”. A resident was charged property tax for the ground floor only so homebuilders would often extend the successive floors further out to get more space (and still not be taxed).
Making our way back to Paris today, we first stopped in Rouen. The city of 108,000 is impressive for many reasons. It boasts yet another of the world’s great Gothic cathedrals. Chartres is famous for its impressive stained-glass. Mont St. Michal is unforgettable for its location, on an islet in the northern coast of France. Rouen’s Notre Dame (“our Lady”) Cathedral is massive in scale but also made memorable because it was painted by Monet on more than thirty different occasions. We saw some of the originals in the Orsay Museum while we were in Paris. Monet liked to see how the same subject appeared in different light so he returned to this scene multiple times, renting space across the street to set up a temporary art studio.