Paris, Brittany and Norfolk
Luigi and Manly, 1987

My trip to France and England was very pleasant. I arrived at Charles DeGaulle Airport in the mid-morning of Wednesday, September 23, took a bus into the center of Paris and then a cab to the Gare Montparnasse, the railroad station where I was to meet Luigi. As I rose on the escalator to the waiting room, there she was, waving at me.

We had a meal of sorts and then took the train to Nantes through a countryside that looked very much like southern Wisconsin. Brittany is a peninsula that sticks out from the west of France like a thumb. Nantes is an industrial city at the base of the thumb on the southwest side. I had written for reservations at the Sofitel Hotel in that city and sent a check as a deposit, but had not received confirmation, and when we got there, they were about to say they were full. However I pulled out my copy of the letter requesting the reservation and enclosing the check as a deposit. then they remembered, and gave us our choice of rooms. The hotel is on an island in the Loire River, and we quickly learned to take a bus from near the hotel to the main part of the city where there are a cathedral and a castle. Because Brittany was not a rich province, the castle was smaller than many, but still large enough to serve whatever purpose one needs a castle for nowadays.

After two or three days in Nantes we took a train on to Quimper, near the tip of the thumbnail, where we wandered about, looking at the cathedral that is slightly bent in the middle, and climbing Mt. Frugy. Being only 240 feet high and with a series of pleasant streets and sidewalks running to the top, Mt. Frugy is easier to climb than most mountains. There is a pottery at Quimper and we walked over there to see it, but they allow visitors only in the museum portion and not in the part where they make stuff, so we visited a nice little Romanesque church nearby instead. One day we took a bus to the town of Benodet, a nearby seaside resort; it was largely shut down since all the vacationershad gone, but it was still pleasant to walk about and admire the fine beach.

On Wednesday, September 30, we flew from Quimper to Paris, landing at Orly airport. Luigi knew about the train from Orly to Paris, and it took us to the entrance of the Musee D'Orsay, within a block of the Hotel Bellechasse, where we were staying. Our room was small, but it was very clean and had a shower and all other necessities, and we spent little time there. Thursday evening we went to a dinner party at the apartment of Henri Loyrette, who is the curator of the . Department of Architecture of the Musee D'Orsay. Several others from the Art Institute were there, including Luigi's boss, John Zukowsky, and her friend Betty Blum. Betty made quit a hit with a prominent Frenchman named Jean by paying very close attention to whatever he said although she didn't understand a word of it as she has never learned any French. There was also a pleasant Parisian architect named Renaud Piererard; he has a beautiful blonde wife who designs dresses and knows about as much English as I know French. We were introduced to to new course in fancy dinners: the fudge course. I forget whether it came before or after dessert, but it was welcome whenever it came.

Friday the Chicago architecture show opened at the Musee D'Orsay, and we were among the favored few thousand to have tickets to the morning opening. A less exclusive afternoon opening was still by invitation only. The morning opening was delayed a few minutes until a couple of particularly special guests arrived: the French minister of culture and Governor Thompson of Illinois. A delicious buffet lunch in the museum was served for a select hundred or so of us. It included another fudge course. Much to our mutual surprise, I found Paul McCurry there; he is a fellow former president of the Cliff Dwellers and was a guest of his son-in-law Stanley Tigerman, a speaker at a seminar given in connection with the show. After lunch Luigi showed me much of the rest of the museum, which includes most of the French Impressionist paintings belonging to the French museum system. Located in a building that used to be a magnificent railroad station with lots of fancy structural steel showing, the museum itself is well worth looking at.

There was a cocktail reception at the residence of the American ambassador for much the same bunch we had seen at lunch, including all those who had been at dinner with us the previous evening.

Saturday we wandered about Paris; Sunday morning I caught an 8:00 train to St. Malo leaving Luigi with the hotel bill. She then took the train to Orly and then flew back to Chicago.

St. Malo is on the north coast of Brittany, a few dozen kilometers west of the base of the thumb. It is an old walled city on a bulbous peninsula, very picturesque with narrow winding streets and stone buildings. It also has very good seafood, as does most of Brittany. I ordered an assortment of seafood and got one large crab, half a dozen large shrimp or prawns, scores of prawns of three different sizes, three sizes of snails including three or for about half the size of my fist and a few miscellaneous oysters, clams and mussels. I visited the local market and noticed several dressed rabbits without the paws attached. Traditionally at least one paw is left on to show that the animal is really a rabbit and not a cat. As I left the market I saw and heard a woman anxiously asking if anyone had seen her pet cat.

On Wednesday, October 7, I took the ferry from St. Malo to Portsmouth. The nine-hour crossing was rough and rainy; indeed the rain continued for the rest of the week. Going through customs took a long time, and I caught the 9:00 train to London, arriving there about 11:00.

While in London I bought a pair of proper British shooting breeches (tweed nickers) and saw the musical Les Miserables. It was a very good show indeed, and I would have enjoyed it even more had I not been in the third balcony where I couldn't hear or see well. Most of the 13 of us who were going shooting met at the Chesterfield Hotel and all of us took the train to Norwich on Sunday. We were met by Peter Darley, the owner of St. Mary's Hotel and Country Club, who drove us out to Happisburgh with a stop at Utting's Gun Company in Norwich for me to rent a shotgun and others to buy whatever items of shooting gear they may might have failed to bring with them. On the way, he mentioned that "Happisburgh" is pronounced "Hayesboro."

The hotel was built about 90 years ago to resemble a large Elizabethan manor house. It had just enough rooms to accommodate us, stone walls about 18 inches thick and a thatched roof. We all ate at one big table in the dining room with the Darleys at the head. Peter regularly said grace in Latin, and none of us knew enough of the language to tell whether it was a real or spurious prayer. He is a real live earl, entitled to be called Lord Peter, but no one does; if he takes his title very seriously, it doesn't show. He was also an officer in the British commandos.

On Monday Peter drove the eight of us who were shooting to an estate about 50 miles away because the place he had intended to take us had lost 4,000 birds as a result of recent bad weather. After three different people had lectured us on the subject of not shooting the beaters, we were assigned to places about 20 yards from the edge of a field with lots of cover. Eight or ten local people who must have wanted money badly acted as beaters and walked through the field toward us, chasing up the pheasants and partridges in large numbers. Many birds flew so low that we didn't shoot for fear of hitting the beaters, but there were enough that flew high so that we all got lots of birds. After half a dozen drives in as many different fields the day's shooting was over.

Tuesday was goose and duck hunting; we were awakened at 4:00 in the morning and taken to a marsh where we were assigned blinds at 5:00. As we reached the blinds (which the British call "hides") it started to rain and kept raining most of the morning. I didn't get anything that day though some of the others got several geese. Peter offered to carry the geese back to the van which was about half a mile from the blinds, and he was loaded up with four of the birds, the largest of which weighed 29 pounds. Just as Peter was about to start on his journey another goose flew toward us and was shot and added as a fifth bird to Peter's load.

On Wednesday we went to the South Norfolk Shooting School where we were given personalized instruction and the opportunity to shoot clay pigeons in a more realistic surrounding than usual, with traps set up on hills and in brush. Thursday was more shooting in the marsh, but not starting at dawn, and on Friday the others got up at 3:30 to go duck hunting. My ankle was bothering me so I chose to stay at the hotel. The wind was strong and kept on getting stronger, reverberating in my room until I felt as if I were living in an organ pipe. It turned out to be a hurricane further south, and did lots of damage even where we were. The power was out for most of the day, and many roads were blocked. The people who had gone shooting, having gotten lots of ducks early in the day, came back without the afternoon driven shoot.

On Saturday, four of the others and I took the train back to London, but we had to go by way of Peterborough because the storm had blocked the regular line between London and Norwich. After a pleasant Sunday in London, I flew to Paris on Monday, and to Chicago on Tuesday.

When I got to the office I found that in my absence I had been awarded a medal by the National Association of Bond Lawyers, a group which I helped to found. The association annually awards a medal to someone who has made significant contributions to the field of public finance, and this year they decided I should be the recipient. When I mentioned this to Dodge over the telephone he asked what the medal was like, and I told him it was about four inches in diameter and made of bronze. "Oh, you came in third!" he said.