Today marks my second visit to Poitiers. It also marks my second case of diarrhoea after eating in Poitiers. I reckon the place is out to get me. All I can say is it’ll probably mark the last time I eat in Poitiers and thank goodness we have a decent toilet at the chateau.
Mind you, diarrhoea was the furthest thing from my mind when we first set off after a very French breakfast of baguette and cheese and a strange but delicious slice of an almond thing.
Actually Mirinda woke me hurriedly at 9:10 telling me the time. We rushed around like lunatics because we’d told Madame we’d be at breakfast at 9!
Pretending we were wide awake, breakfast was shared with the English couple from last night (who also went to the restaurant). They were a lovely couple who live in Berkshire (the Berkshire/Hampshire/Surrey border according to Stephen) and love France as much as we do. I have a feeling they would not have voted to leave the EU but the subject never came up.
What did come up was how much French they knew. They were chattering away with Madame about stuff only they (and Mirinda) could understand when suddenly they all burst into laughter. I politely chuckled a bit, not wanting them all to know I had no idea what was happening. It turns out that Margaret had accidentally said that she’d slept very well, in the swimming pool.
It was all very entertaining, particularly when Stephen told us about his new French word from this holiday. It was pudibonderie and is, basically, prudishness and relates to the strange habit of some people painting clothes on naked paintings because they were upset by the nude bits. Subsequently the altered paintings would look great except for the added bits which were completely awful.
Apart from anything else, I find the idea that France went through a phase of being prudish very hard to believe…let alone destroying artworks.
They were leaving today, heading up to Caen for a night ferry back to Portsmouth which is sad because breakfast was great fun.
Still, we had to go so go we did. We hopped into our little grey chariot (with the white roof) and headed into Poitiers.
We had decided to try the Park and Ride given my descriptions of the horror drive experiences by the Weasels just last year. It was an excellent idea. It was a very easy, 20 minute run into the ‘burbs of Poitiers where a bus almost turned up exactly as we needed it. We then paid the measly fee and were taken up to the top of the town.
Not a lot had changed since I was last there except for two important things: it wasn’t raining and it wasn’t a Sunday. This meant we actually had a choice of places to sit and have a coffee unlike the meagre offering last time which saw Bev, Jon and me huddled underneath the only shelter in the square trying to avoid drips…without much success.
Today the weather was glorious. Sunshine with just the slightest scattering of clouds. We sat beneath the shade of an umbrella and had coffee (beer) while we decided what to visit.
Mirinda has a bit of a thing for Eleanor of Aquitaine so it was decided we’d check out stuff to do with her given she spent a fair bit of her life in and around Poitiers. In fact it wouldn’t be hard to imagine that she’d still recognise huge parts of the place even the loud sweary gypsies having a rather heated debate outside the church.
First up we walked down to the beautiful Notre Dame le Grande church, stopping on the way to admire the impressive Maubergeonne Tower and the perfect little wildflower patch around it. It’s exactly what Mirinda wants ours to look like. I have to say that while it certainly looked wonderful and is something to aspire to, our little patch will never be as big.
Still, it was also a chance to reacquaint myself with Joan, this time in the sunshine.
We made it down to the church and Mirinda absolutely loved it. And she agreed that it is an amazing place. The painted columns, the frescoes, the overall feel of the place, the infrequent appearance of nuns and begging gypsy women. Truly unique.
Something I hadn’t noticed on my last visit was this wonderful statue of what appears to be an angelic referee telling a prone Neymar to get up off the pitch and stop play acting like a big baby.
Having spent a long time wandering the aisles, we once more stepped out into the stunning sunshine. We then made the mistake of eating at the Bistro Regent. I’m fairly certain that this was what led to my time on the loo later in the day. Still, it was a nice sit down in the shade and there were not a lot of choices of open eateries.
Possibly no food would have been the best option for me.
We then began a very slow meander down to the cathedral St Pierre. Last visit we didn’t go in because it was during a full on mass, it being a Sunday, but today, being a Wednesday meant there were only tourists and not that many of them…at first. Still it’s a big cathedral and can accommodate a lot of tourists without being crowded.
To Mirinda’s joy there was not only a fantastic stained glass window commemorating Eleanor and Henry, there was also a lovely St Roche.
However, like Notre Dame le Grande, the best bit of the cathedral is the outside front wall. The carvings are brilliant, depicting various nasty things that happened to people of faith (you have to wonder why they bother when it’s all so ghastly) and we admired them far more than the inside of the building. Which I thought, was actually quite bland.
When we’d entered the church, the sun was out and the sky was piercingly blue. The clouds were but little wisps of shadowy cotton. When we left the church, the sky was grey, spots of rain were starting to fall and thunder and lightning dogged our steps back up the road.
The weather was so bad that there was nothing for it but to stop off in the bookshop cafe where Bev, Jon and I sat out the rain in the wonderful atmosphere of the written word. Like an echo, Mirinda and I also had a lovely coffee, browsing the books and feeling at home. The guys running the place were, I think, the same and were very friendly and welcoming. It’s truly a special place.
Afterwards we once more ventured out into the gradually increasing downpour, making our inexorable way back to the bus stop for the ride back to the Park and Ride at the place of the Half Moon. We waited for about 20 minutes along with thousands of other people who, fortunately, caught different buses. Finally, though, a number 14 came along and we boarded for the run out of town.
Before heading back to the chateau, we went to Intermarche across the road from the carpark to buy food.
What a horrid, soulless place it was. Too big, too impersonal, too awful for words…except for those ones. If I don’t enter another hypermart for as long as I live, it’ll not be long enough. I think it would be my idea of hell; eternally shopping in a vast supermarket where the other shoppers continually walk into me and the check out people are dead.
And, to top it off, Mirinda claimed the food was as bland as the Intermarche was soulless. I can’t say because I was concentrating on emptying not filling.
The rest of our night was spent either on the toilet (me) or on the bed watching Silent Witness (Mirinda).