Travel Log Thursday 21st March 2013

Despite the wonderful meal we had enjoyed the previous evening, I was up half the night with a gippy tummy. It was probably too much rich stuff for my delicate constitution. So we had another leisurely morning, had breakfast at lunchtime, and formed a general plan for a late afternoon outing. Tom was going shopping at a Parisian style charity shop and I decided to go to the cinema to see Cloud Atlas. Tom had already seen it and I knew it would have left our local cinema by the time I got home. It is a film I was eager to see because I had read the book by David Mitchell (twice) and loved it, because of the way it addressed cultures, religion, history and ultimate values.  So we agreed to meet up after our individual excursions in the Boulevard St Germain for dinner.

Painintwork in St Severin

En route I dropped into the church of St Severin for a quick look, as I had plenty of time before the film would start. In the last of the medieval gothic structures I would visit during this trip, I was struck by how much darker the side chapels seemed to be than in any of the others. In the dimness, I caught sight of that same type of paintwork I’d seen in the Sainte Chapelle and took a photo of the “trompe l’oeil” style of draping.

I walked up the the Boulevard St Germain until I found the cinema and purchased my ticket. There was still time for a cup of tea in a café, which I felt would be a little more kind to my stomach than strong coffee. I still was not feeling 100% right.

The film was in English with French subtitles, which was just as well as I wouldn't have understood it otherwise, even though I knew the plot. I felt it was a good attempt at conveying a complex book of interconnected stories which are written in 6 different genres and set in 6 different eras. The tale of Somni, a cloned serf in a futuristic technological society in the Far East, reminds us that speaking truth and experiencing love is more important than protecting one’s own life. I couldn’t help but draw the parallel with Marguerite’s story. The prophetic voice is so feared because it exposes reality and makes fools, even villains, of those who strive to cling on to power at the expense of others.

I have to say that Hugh Grant's acting skills were stretched further than usual in his multiple roles.


Our final Parisian meal ended up being Italian. We thought pasta might be a little less taxing on the gut and we enjoyed our chat, as usual. Needless to say, I stuck to mineral water this evening.

At some point in our conversations this week, Tom and I had discussed whether we are unique in thinking at times that we see the world in a completely different way to everyone else. He thought that perhaps most people feel this way, and so we try and find a group of people to hang around with whom we find cool, and who find us cool – a sort of like-minded community – in order to accommodate the feelings of difference.

Marguerite was not cool according to the Church authorities around the turn of the 13th century. Perhaps only Guiard thought she was cool, along with Godfrey of Fontaines who had resided perhaps only yards away from where we were residing in the Latin Quarter. But there was no one who had the power of foresight at the crucial moment to incorporate Marguerite's ideas into any bigger picture. She was after all a woman who should not do such thinking and writing.

Tomorrow we would leave Paris and take the train up to Chantilly. I had almost forgotten about the car parked at the station. Hopefully it would still be there.

I felt a cold gust of separation from Marguerite. She never returned to her home up north. To die in a foreign environment without a friend to hold your hand, is devastatingly sad. To die violently is unthinkable.

I still wonder who mourned Marguerite's passing. It seems that I have not yet found closure.

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© Susan Shooter