The next bed I sleep in will be in Aberdeen. This apartment is chaotic, and I am hiding from singing painters ("la la la chuis fatigué a la la oui oui oui") and carpenters; all our things are packed in boxes, which should be collected soon. In between the packing, visa appointments, and looking for lodgings we have been saying our slow goodbye. Goodbyes are awkward things.
We stopped in the city of Angers on our way to see my husband's grandmother in Brittany for our 'so long' visit.
Inside of a castle with a moat full of flowers was a treasure from the fourteenth century that I had been wanting to see for a long time: The Apocalypse Tapestry. It was like a trip to wonderland, walking up and down the long, darkened gallery before panel after panel of strange beauty. There were six huge rooms' worth of seven-headed monsters and dragons, horses with men's faces, falling stars, bagpipe-playing angels, shaken cities, nighttime gardens. It was difficult to take any photos of it in the low light there; this was our best result:
We stayed until closing, marvelling.
We strolled in an empty courtyard hung with heavy clouds, and then over the drawbridge and on to another day and another walled up place, this time in Brittany.
A doorway into the walled city of Guérande
The next day we flew through salt marshes on bicycles twice our age...
... until we found ourselves within the walls of the city of Guérande eating kouign aman (Breton for "butter cake" yum!) as a cathedral loomed over us.
We strolled a little, peered into windows...
... I liked the butcher's window best. And then the shops began to close, the streets began to empty, and we jumped back on our bikes, past the tiny stone chapel, past the field with its one lonesome standing stone, through the salt marshes full of egrets, and home in time for dinner.
On the way back to Paris we made a little detour to see the giant mechanical puppets of Royal de Luxe in their workshop in Nantes. We arrived there just as a giant elephant came stomping and screaming out of the workshop, sometimes spraying water out of its trunk at passersby. People waved at us from inside the palace on his back.
This elephant has come to be a symbol of Nantes, a year or so ago we were thinking of possibly moving from Paris to Nantes, and everything we came across had this elephant all over it!
Inside, there were the makings of a Jules Verne-inspired merry-go-round, which will have three floors, representative of different depths of the ocean. There will be sea monsters and squids, chariots drawn through the air by teams of flying fish, and so much more.
A walnut shell boat, fit for a tiny child. In French, one says a walnut shell, "Coque de Noix", for a little boat that is unsteady in the water and likely to capsize.
There was staff on hand to demonstrate the inventions. I was copilot in a turn of the century hobby airplane, snoopy hat and all.
Outside, children rode on a smaller, one-story merry-go-round, which had boats bobbing on the ocean, a line of ladybugs in order of size, a sort of air bicycle-for-two held aloft by a fish balloon, a giant cockroach, seahorses, and other splendid things.
Zoe has also blogged about some of the creations of Royal de Luxe, if you want to read more.
And then we were back in Paris.
It seems that every time I think about how we are leaving I think of another thing I wanted to see or do, and now it is too late. Tonight we will meet friends in a church yard, and then other friends at a bar, and then we will go to the airport in the middle of the night. The summer is ending and I hardly noticed it beginning, and now we are going away.