A heroine for the ages - Kiwis fly - CycleBlaze

September 12, 2019

A heroine for the ages

Orléans rest day

Orléans is preparing to party. 

Every two years, the Festival of the Loire comes to town and takes over the riverfront. We've cycled along this route once or twice in the past 24 hours and it has been an exercise in dodgems. Dodge the crane that's lifting a boat into the water. Dodge those garrulous and gesticulating guys erecting scaffolding. Dodge, after a closer inspection by Mr Audio Guy, those loops of cabling. And, as always, dodge pesky pedestrians cluttering up our pathway.

A random act of kindness by a stranger, resulting in rare 'two of us' photo
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We won't be here for the party next week. Today's rest day has been wonderful but it will be an early start tomorrow if we're to reach Amboise before nightfall. (I exaggerate. But we have tickets to visit Leonardo da Vinci's last home, which is 100km away, and the doors close at 7pm. I expect we'll sleep well tomorrow night.)

Another reason for a prompt departure is that summer has returned. After the autumnal mood of recent days, sending me off on a poetic bent (mellow fruitfulness and all that), today has seen temperatures soar again into the high 20s. Good news, Jilly - re-pack those shorts!

Orléans has something else to celebrate each year: its rescue from the clutches of the English hordes by a little slip of a girl in 1429. She may not have spent much time here but Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orléans, is revered. Her story is told in the ten stained glass windows that dominate the huge gothic Cathedral of The Holy Cross. These were installed in the late 1890s as part of a campaign to reinstate her reputation and convince the church of her worthiness for canonisation. She became a saint in 1920. 

Young Joan, outside the Hôtel Groslot
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Interestingly, the cathedral leaflet interpreting these windows doesn't tiptoe around what locals believe to be prejudice against young Joan, referring to "dirty stories told ... both by Shakespeare (in his play Henry VI) and by Voltaire".

In the end, a few years after saving Orléans, Joan was captured, imprisoned, tortured and finally burnt at the stake by the English.

History is written by the winner, of course.

The magnificant Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Orléans
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Well, this has been a rather serious journal entry. I confess to being quite taken by this young shepherdess who managed to deliver the message to a self-doubting monarch that he was indeed the man to lead a divided France. 

On a lighter note, our appreciation of French red wine has been expanded thanks to Philippe's welcoming gift of a bottle of Saumur Champigny. There's still a way to go yet though - #waitingforBrian

I don't have any fluffy kitten pics to share but here's an action shot of a touring party we met the other day ... four humans, two of whom were towing dogs in their trailers. Love it!
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Today's ride: 10 km (6 miles)
Total: 1,088 km (676 miles)

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Dawn Hunter10kms! Now you're talking! I could do todays ride! 😉
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2 years ago
Dawn HunterOh - and I downloaded a book on Joan of Arc a couple of months ago. It was a short story - sadly a short life of which little is known really! But I'm sure you know that 😊
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2 years ago
Robyn RichardsTo Dawn HunterIt was a remarkable life though wasn't it?
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2 years ago