60 Years Ago Today

Wednesday, 18 June 1952:

At 9:40 a.m. we were leaving Paris by way of the Bastille, which was the site of the state prison. The monument was all that was left of the prison. The monument was dedicated to the glory of French citizens who had sacrificed their lives for the Republic and also to remind the French people of the prison which was attacked on July 14, 1789.

Next we continued on by the Palace of Fontainebleau, which was spared by the French Revolution. I thought the palace wasn’t as architecturally interesting as Versaille was though. However, the Palace of Fontainebleau was much older in history and bigger and richer in historical memoirs.

It was originally started in the 12th century by Louis VII and the commune area was known for passions of hunting and love making. The fountain in the woods was owned by Bleau, therefore its name. On the way we caught sight of the Fontainebleau gardens and a garrison which had been established to keep the poachers and robbers away.

There was an archway with a tree which had been trimmed square with American field troops operating by the roadside. Thick vegetation was everywhere with trees and shrubs lining the road. Lot Dayton, Chief Historian at Fontainebleau, was from Weber State College. Earlier he had been a historian for Eisenhower.

In the antechamber we observed Napoleon’s hat, a painting of Napoleon in emperor’s dress, and a beautiful crystal and gold chandelier. The secretariat’s room had a crystal and gilded bronze chandelier in the back room and glass fragments from the tomb of Princess Louise, daughter of Louis XV.

Next were the rooms where Napoleon abdicated the throne before going to Elba. There was a mural showing the power of justice as we continued to the rooms of the emperor where there was a replica of Napoleon’s cradle. The symbol of a general changed to a symbol of an eagle when he became emperor.

Louis XV had decorated these rooms. The Napoleon council room in the minister’s throne room had the bee as a symbol. When he had been a general, he had chosen the honeybee symbol which represented a hard working man. Soon after was a portrait (copy) of Louis XIII, priceless chandelier, 40,000 francs in Napoleon’s time, apartment of Marie Antoinette, present decorations from Louis XVIII, and bedroom of six different Marie’s including Marie Medici, Teresa, Antoinette, and Louise.

Farther on was Marie Antoinette’s bed, Marie Louise’s jewelry box, and Minerva painted on the ceiling, Then we continued on to Empress Josephine’s harp, a music room, and Napoleon III’s Empress Eugenia reception room. It had two original chairs in the different rooms for the lady of honor. Then we discovered the library that had been made for Diane and murals covering the rounded ceiling.

The Renaissance antechamber was where Frances I married Constantine. Then there were more Frances I rooms which had furnishings, a tapestry on chairs of Beauvais, an ivory box belonging to Anne of Austria, and the first glass introduced from the city of Venice in the 16th century. There was a room where Louis XVIII was born.

Next was a square tower room that was the oldest part of Fontainebleau from the 12th century. And all the kings from Francis I and later have added something to the palace. We proceeded on to see enamel incense burners, Henry IV on the horse that was sculptured in marble, , and hand carved ebony cabinets. I noticed Italian work was more ornate than the French. There were fifteen different kinds of wood in the floor and the floor and ceiling corresponded with a similar look.

Louis XV built a stairway as an entrance to other rooms and one of the rooms was the favorite of Francis I. Later the queen had coverings put over the nude statues. The ceiling was finished by Louis Philippe in 1830 and the gallery was completed by Henry II. The gallery room had last been used in 1930. Again there were nine kinds of wood in the floor. Then we noticed the room of the governess of Louis 14th, Salon of Madame du Manteneau. I could see the old entrance and gardens to the palace from the window.

We ate our lunches on the bus after leaving Fontainebleau. Gee—the food sure tasted good! We had sandwiches with some of Alene’s meat (spam, I believe). Then we had bananas, oranges, and a pastry to finish the meal.

The bus ride included varied interesting and beautiful images: wild poppies everywhere, crossing railroad tracks, one red and white pole raised by a lady at a little booth by the side of the tracks, trimmed Montargis tree in the park, sidewalk part of the road which was as wide as the street, water tank with the name of the city of Nogent on it, X on signs for crossroads, repairing roads, wild poppies growing profusely in fields along the roadside, square white mileage signs, and scenery which reminds me of the way to Yellowstone without the pine trees. I couldn’t forget the scenery inside Andre’s bus with a little doll hanging from the top of the windshield.

As we continued traveling we passed the Briare Canal, a tributary of the Seine, and women working in the fields alone. I caught sight of a man on a bicycle with a cart behind him and another lady pulling her cart along the road as well. There was little traffic on the French roads. There was a gorgeous field of tall white flowers was used to make oil for salads. Then we went through a little town that had narrow winding streets like Mexican cities. We moved along a curbed road lined with trees with a valentine sign, a mowed swatch of grass along side the road, and some men working on the railroad Nuervy underpass. After awhile I started dozing. Then Andre hit his funny loud horn and I woke right up.

Along the roadside there was a beautiful grove of trees, load of hay, lumberyard, cut patch of grass raked and ready to bunch. I kept dozing. After my napping I came to realize there was a little horn and big horn that could jerk me quickly out of my sleep.

Now back to sightseeing. La Charite in Loire Valley dispersed on both sides of the River Allier. In the next village I spotted a house covered with climbing vines. Then we passed groves of trees still maturing, Nevers train station, Hotel Moderne, and some grass bunched along the road.
Soon we stopped at the railroad station. Was it really a “dealy” for the bathroom? However, I didn’t go in and walked down the street to the pastry shop. I enjoyed a fresh roll with raisins, an orange, and a drink. Yea, a clean toilette in the shop! Back on the road there was construction on both sides of road. Soon there were cattle in the fields, and then pigs, sheep, and cows.

In the city of Moiry there were cement telephone poles with rectangular squares. And we learned that each average French farm had 25 acres. The tobacco, utilities, armament, and matches industry were run by the government. If there was a fire, owners of the buildings had to pay for the expenses and damages. The franc was worth 25 cents to an American dollar before World War I and about 36 francs to a dollar before World War II.

The French in this area were Celtics. Their language related to Latin, Greek, Slavic. They were a tall fair-haired people that lived in tribes and had the Druid religion. The Romans wiped them out and ruled with no written law. Clovis was the first king to unite all the tribes in France and he became an important leader in France. He was Christian, so all warriors converted to Christianity. Clovis succeeded in driving out the Visigods from Southern France. In 350 a.d. the Franks in the north had headquarters in Paris and the Burgundians were in Southeastern France.
We saw the old Castle Orateau which was built during the Renaissance in the 9th century. As the Frankish kings became weaker, Charlemagne took over from 768-814 a.d. as a Frankish king and helped define Western and Central Europe. Also, Charlemagne protected the Pope while he knelt in prayer and as a result the Pope crowned him the King of the Renaissance.

The Carolingian Renaissance, in 843 a.d. , stands out as a period of intellectual and cultural revival in Europe. This was the beginning of the Romance languages. Later the Burgundians, a Eastern Germanic tribe, with their seat of government in Dijon, France and Geneva, Switzerland were subdued by the Franks. Afterwards, the fierce and warlike Normans came in the 9th and 10th centuries while Rouen was the capital of Normandy. Charles the Simple, the French king, gave his daughter to a Viking leader Rollo. Then the Normans accepted Christianity and became a vassal to the king.

Later the Normans in 1066 a.d. conquered England and the Normans took home with them the French language and culture, because they had forgotten their own. As a result the French language became the official language of Europe.

The Englishmen like action and wild behavior where the Frenchmen were more mind oriented, intellectual and not so sports minded. Also the French loved order and Frenchmen were more subtle in tastes and in expressing their opinions. However the Spanish were passionate. And the Germans loved romantic literature and had feelings of love. Romanticism came to prevail with Victor Hugo, a French playwright and author, for a short period of time.

Back to sightseeing we saw French peasants that were passing through the rich fertile farm area. In the Middle Ages, the French peasants were a little better off than the European peasants in general. They were quite satisfied with their lives as fifty percent had become land owners during the revolution. This status and high percentage was the best in Europe. In 1952 nearly all the land in France was owned by peasants. The peasants represented the one big obstacle to communism. However there were some sharecroppers in Southwest France that were breeding places of communism. Today France and England have the same form of government.

In the 19th century, peasants constituted 75% of the population. Whereas in 1952, 23% of the population were peasants. Tredita Agular lent money to the peasants. But there were no big supermarkets or tractors to be seen anywhere, because peasants disliked machines. When the peasants died out, the farms were given back to the government.

On the road I spied some road construction where the workmen wore wooden shoes. Then we stopped at a small town on the way for drinks and gas at 80 cents a gallon. Before we left we gave gum to two little girls in the restaurant.

Now back in the bus we gazed at the scenery which had beautiful rolling hills, checkerboard farms, and tombs in a cemetery. There were little tombs where people had been buried on top of each other.

Next on the drive was a basketball court, windmill, vineyard, red tile roofs, circus in Roanne, and Loire River. The night brought a beautiful rainbow and sunset. Coming up was Lyon, France which was the largest silk center and one of the leading car producing centers in Europe. It was the second largest city in France.

Finally we arrived at Hotel de Angleterre about 10:30 p.m. We were hungry and the dining room had just closed as we arrived. Can you believe I got a room 51 all by myself! It has a big double bed, plush red cover, and marble fireplace. Sadly Connie came down to sleep with me though.
In the bathroom I discovered a lavatory, foot bath, hot water, and a short bed with a canvas sheet on the bottom. It was a modern look with a roll pillow and big pillow on the bed. Mrs. Hansen and Dick were put in the same room. The hotel changed it when they realized what had been done.


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