After one long day (36 hours in fact) we finally arrived in Paris via Air France. I had about 45 minutes to get off my American flight, go through passport control, get a boarding pass and meet Scott at the gate. Whew. Travel tip #1: Fly Air France. They love to feed you. Hands down, our best flight. So, we arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport and found our way to the rental car, our beloved VW Polo, or the “Polka Dot” as I affectionately termed it. You be the judge.
We opted to get the navigation system. I’m quite positive that if we hadn’t, we’d still be finding our way back to Paris. “Jane” – our British-accented companion – was quite charming and kept reminding Scott to drive on the right side of the road. Oh, and did I mention it was a manual? That car experience is a story unto itself. Another time. We have more important things to cover.
So, we get to Lisieux, hometown of St. Therese of Lisieux (and also the namesake of Will’s school here in Texas, St. Theresa’s). It reminded us so much of Assisi. Quaint, quiet and beautiful. I can only imagine how stunning this place is during the summertime. We found the basilica and as we ventured up the front stairs, we were greeted by the rector – for you non-Catholics he’s the priest responsible for all aspects of the church. Pretty similar to the head pastor role. He spoke wonderful English and was thrilled to learn that our son attended St. Theresa’s here in Texas. “Oh fantastique!” he quipped. Then, he gave us a big pat on the back and told us to enjoy the church. We opened the huge wooden doors and were greeted by THIS.
Completely and totally unexpected. Folks, those are all mosaics, not paintings. And this church was built about 150 years ago. The attention to detail and sheer thought of “how did they do that” took my breath away.
The basilica was practically empty. Counting Scott and I there were 5 folks in there. What serenity. What awesome prayer time. We offered up many while we were here. All those candles flickering above represent people’s intentions. That was a powerful moment in our journey to France and the most amazing way to start our trip. We’re in total amazement and then we decide to take a “quick” look at the crypt. Now, when I think crypt, I think dark, small and musty. Um, this was not any of those. Again with the mosaics! It was the color in these that just mesmerized Scott and I for a moment.
Our time at the basilica blew any expectations we had out of the English Channel. This is definitely a place we would love to visit again, and again. On our way out of town, we stopped at the Carmelite Convent where St. Therese is buried. Spending that time in prayer, thinking about Will especially, and how much we love his school community, was a special moment for Scott and I. If you’re not too familiar with St. Therese, she’s known as the “Little Flower” who urged people to do small things to spread God’s love. Sound like another modern-day saint? Mother Teresa, maybe? She was a young girl with great faith who loved the Lord with the faith of a child.
And, with a little touch of sadness, we bid adieu to sweet, little Lisieux and headed about 2 hours north, to the coast of France, to Mont St. Michel. I was just starting to fade when Scott shakes my arm and says, “Kathryn, you have GOT to see this!”
We walked up like a 1,000 stairs to our room on the fourth floor – evidently the monks didn’t think elevators would be useful – plopped our luggage down and headed to dinner. Without a doubt – I’ll say that again – without a doubt, the best dinner we had in France. Filet de bouef, french fries, some fantastic sauce, salad and a sweet omelet (sounds notsogood, but you’re ohsowrong). Then, we crashed for a well-deserved night of sleep.
Tomorrow, we experience a whole new version of the stairmaster, navigate French road signs and roadblocks, compare breeds of dairy cattle and spend a touching moment at Omaha Beach on the Normandy coastline.