A Motor-Flight Through France

A Motor-Flight Through France
Title: A Motor-Flight Through France
Release Date: 2018-06-18
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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v

A MOTOR-FLIGHT
THROUGH FRANCE

CHAUVIGNY: RUINS OF CASTLE

A MOTOR-FLIGHT
THROUGH FRANCE

BY
EDITH WHARTON

ILLUSTRATED

NEW YORK
CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS
1908


Copyright, 1908, by
CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS
Published October, 1908


CONTENTS

PART I
CHAPTER PAGE
I. Boulogne to Amiens 1
II. Beauvais and Rouen 15
III. From Rouen to Fontainebleau 24
IV. The Loire and the Indre 34
V. Nohant to Clermont 48
VI. In Auvergne 56
VII. Royat to Bourges 66
PART II
I. Paris to Poitiers 73
II. Poitiers to the Pyrenees 95
III. The Pyrenees to Provence 117
IV. The Rhone to the Seine 143
PART III
  A Flight to the North-east 172

vii

ILLUSTRATIONS

Chauvigny: Ruins of castle Frontispiece
Facing page
Arras: Hôtel de Ville 2
Amiens: West front of the Cathedral 6
Amiens: Ambulatory of the Cathedral 10
Beauvais: West front of the Cathedral 14
Rouen: Rue de l’Horloge 18
Rouen: The façade of the Church of Saint-Maclou 22
Rouen: Monument of the Cardinals of Amboise in the Cathedral 26
Le Petit Andely: View of the town and Château Gaillard 30
Orléans: General view of the town 38
Nohant: Château of George Sand 42
Nohant: Garden pavilion 44
Clermont-Ferrand: Notre-Dame du Port 50
Orcival: The church 62
Moulins: Place del’Hôtel-de-Ville and the Jacquemart tower 70
Bourges: Apse of the Cathedral 74
Château of Maintenon 76
Neuvy Saint-Sépulcre: Church of the Precious Blood 84
Neuvy Saint-Sépulcre: Interior of the church 88
Poitiers: Baptistery of St. John 90
Poitiers: The Church of Notre-Dame-la-Grande 92viii
Angoulême: Façade of the Cathedral 96
Thiers: View of the town from the Pont de Seychalles 98
Bordeaux: Church of The Holy Cross 100
Bétharram: The bridge 106
Argelès-Gazost: The old bridge 108
Salies de Béarn: View of old town 110
St. Bertrand-de-Comminges: Pier of the Four Evangelists in the Cloister 116
Albi: General view of the Cathedral 118
Albi: Interior of the Cathedral 120
Nîmes: The Baths of Diana—public gardens 122
Carcassonne: The Porte de l’Aude 124
Saint-Remy: The Mausoleum 126
St. Maximin: Choir stalls in the church 130
Toulon: The House of Puget 134
Orange: The Arch of Marius 136
Grignan: Gate of the castle 138
Valence: The Cathedral 142
Vienne: General view of the town 146
Brou: Tomb of Margaret of Austria in the church 150
Dijon: Mourners on the tomb of Jean Sans Peur 154
Avallon: General view of the town 158
Vézelay: Narthex of the Church of the Madeleine 160
Sens: Apse of the Cathedral 168
Noyon: Hôtel de Ville 186ix
St. Quentin: Hôtel de Ville 188
Laon: General view of the town and Cathedral 192
Soissons: Ruined church of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes 196

1

A MOTOR-FLIGHT
THROUGH FRANCE

PART I

I
BOULOGNE TO AMIENS

The motor-car has restored the romance oftravel.

Freeing us from all the compulsions and contactsof the railway, the bondage to fixed hoursand the beaten track, the approach to each townthrough the area of ugliness and desolationcreated by the railway itself, it has given usback the wonder, the adventure and the noveltywhich enlivened the way of our posting grand-parents.Above all these recovered pleasuresmust be ranked the delight of taking a town unawares,stealing on it by back ways and unchronicledpaths, and surprising in it some intimateaspect of past time, some silhouette hidden forhalf a century or more by the ugly mask of2railway embankments and the iron bulk of ahuge station. Then the villages that we missedand yearned for from the windows of the train—theunseen villages have been given back tous!—and nowhere could the importance of therecovery have been more delightfully exemplifiedthan on a May afternoon in the Pas-de-Calais,as we climbed the long ascent beyond Boulogneon the road to Arras.

It is a delightful country, broken into widewaves of hill and valley, with hedge-rows highand leafy enough to bear comparison with theKentish hedges among which our motor hadleft us a day or two before; and the villages, thefrequent, smiling, happily-placed villages, willalso meet successfully the more serious challengeof their English rivals—meet it on othergrounds and in other ways, with paved market-placesand clipped charmilles instead of gorse-fringedcommons, with soaring belfries insteadof square church towers, with less of verdure, butmore, perhaps, of outline—certainly of line.

ARRAS: HÔTEL DE VILLE

The country itself—so green, so full andclose in texture, so pleasantly diversified byclumps of woodland in the hollows, and by3streams threading the great fields with light—allthis, too, has the English, or perhaps theFlemish quality—for the border is close by—withthe added beauty of reach and amplitude,the deliberate gradual flow of level spaces intodistant slopes, till the land breaks in a long bluecrest against the seaward horizon.

There was much beauty of detail, also, inthe smaller towns through which we passed:some of them high-perched on ridges that rakedthe open country, with old houses stumblingdown at picturesque angles from the centralmarket-place; others tucked in the hollows,among orchards and barns, with the pleasantcountry industries reaching almost to the doorsof their churches. In the little villages a deepdelicious thatch overhangs the plastered walls ofcottages espaliered with pear-trees, and duckssplash in ponds fringed with hawthorn andlaburnum; and in the towns there is almostalways some note of character, of distinction—thegateway of a seventeenth century hôtel, thetriple arch of a church-front, the spring of an oldmossy apse, the stucco and black cross-beams ofan ancient guild-house—and always the straight4lime-walk, square-clipped or trained en berceau,with its sharp green angles and sharp blackshade acquiring a value positively architecturalagainst the high lights of the paved or gravelledplace. Everything about this rich juicy landbathed in blond light is characteristically Flemish,even to the slow-moving eyes of the peasants,the bursting red cheeks of the children, thedrowsy grouping of the cattle in flat pastures;and at Hesdin we felt the architectural nearnessof the Low Countries in the presence of a finetown-hall of the late Renaissance, with thepeculiar “movement” of volutes and sculpturedornament—lime-stone against warm brick—thatone associates with the civic architecture ofBelgium: a fuller, less sensitive line than theFrench architect permits himself, with moremassiveness and exuberance of detail.

This part of France, with its wide expanse ofagricultural landscape, disciplined and cultivatedto the last point of finish, shows how nature maybe utilized to the utmost clod without losing itsfreshness and naturalness. In some regions ofthis supremely “administered” country, wherespace is more restricted, or the fortunate accidents5of water and varying levels are lacking, theminute excessive culture, the endless ranges ofpotager wall, and the long lines of fruit-treesbordering straight interminable roads, may producein the American traveller a reaction towardthe unkempt, a momentary feeling that raggedroad-sides and weedy fields have their artisticvalue. But here in northern France, whereagriculture has mated with poetry instead ofbanishing it, one understands the higher beautyof land developed, humanised, brought into relationto life and history, as compared with theraw material with which the greater part of ourown hemisphere is still clothed. In Franceeverything speaks of long

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