Autumn is officially upon Team Basil. Today’s 17 degrees with strong winds finally persuaded me to put on long trousers. My Mum used to make me wear shorts throughout the winter, so at last I’ve found some aspect of being an adult that is an improvement on the careless joy that was childhood for me.
Having spent last night next to a lake, I was beginning to get Cathedral withdrawal symptoms and so I pointed Basil in the direction of Bourges. It took us three hours, via a quick stop at the bakers, to reach a huge free aire in Bourges (47.084000, 2.381290) with brand new emptying and filling facilities (water €2.50 for 100 litres).
We scoffed our lunch and set off for the city centre, I have to admit, without much anticipation. I had not heard of Bourges before today, but it is a very ancient settlement. It had the privilege (not sure they saw it that way) of being defeated and killed to the last man by Julius Caesar himself, who then had a Roman town built on the remains. In the middle ages it was the capital of a powerful duchy and Louis XI was born here when his father was using Bourges to hide from the English.
It is now famous for its UNESCO World Heritage Cathedral which is supposed to be one of the finest examples of the French High Gothic style. If you recall we were not overly impressed with Chartres, which is another example, so we were not holding our breath. But as we rounded the corner into the small square that fronts the Cathedral I knew this was much more to my taste.
The front is a riot of finely carved figures, ranging from Jesus himself, through the Apostles and Saints to scenes from hell with little devils consigned to damnation. The carving around the main entrance is exquisite. Inside is plain and austere in contrast to the over the top Cathedral interiors we have experienced in Spain, but the scale of the Nave is vast. The introduction of flying buttresses on the outside have enabled the builders to achieve a height in the Nave which is 50 – 100% higher than English Cathedrals of the same period. To crown it all are a beautiful collection of stained glass windows, some dating back to the 13thCentury. Some of the stained glass is at a low level, which makes it much easier to appreciate than when it is set in some elaborate rose window 30 metres off the ground.
Having bid farewell to a Cathedral that deserves its UNESCO award, we headed towards the old town, which still retains several streets full of half timbered houses. In all Bourges was a pleasant place to spend a couple of hours and best of all the Cathedral was free!
We have decided to spend the last two days of our trip on an English Channel beach. Depending what time we get away tomorrow morning we may make the six hour trip in one hop or break the journey into two chunks. The other job we have to accomplish is getting the dogs wormed for their pet passports. I have identified a likely looking candidate near our planned coastal campsite, so hopefully that will be as straight forward as usual.