SEPTEMBER 4, 1956
GENEVA—Before we left France, we enjoyed perfect weather for our drive to Nantes and later to Angers.
In Nantes we visited the cathedral and saw one of the loveliest tombs of the Renaissance period. To see the figures on top of the tomb one would have to climb a steep ladder, but there are the most interesting figures at the four corners and on the frieze. One figure is that of a woman with a double head. On the back is the face of an old man, to depict the wisdom that a woman should have, showing all the care she must use in reaching her decisions and in finally enforcing them with the wisdom of age. The old man's face at the back shows how much thought has gone into these decisions.
We lunched at the Hotel D'Angers and as usual the young people seemed to have a very good appetite. I doubt if the French have ever seen young people who could eat as much as our young people manage to tuck away when they like the meal before them.
After lunch we visited the Chateau of Angers and the wonderful tapestries which are being exhibited in a hall specially built for this purpose. From there we drove to the Chateau of Saumur. But we had made up our minds we could not possibly see all the chateaux on our list, so we simply drove up and had a look at it from the outside and then drove on directly to Chinon.
Here we were met by the Assistant Mayor, who is a teacher in the university and knows the history of this area very well, particularly that of the castle itself. He told us some interesting stories about these historic ruins as well as telling us how many historic events had taken place here.
One can see the fireplaces which were originally on the second floor. This was the castle where Jeanne D'Arc came to persuade Charles VII to go with her to be consecrated king and to accept her leadership and guidance in freeing France from the British.
The story goes that the king, wanting to test this peasant girl, hid behind a column and dressed one of his courtiers up to impersonate the king. But she seemed to be guided directly to him and addressed him as Dauphin, begging him to go with her to be consecrated. They show you a little ruined turret where she and the king are supposed to have talked and where it is said she told him the secret which induced him to go with her to be crowned.
We proceeded then to Azay Le Rideau which has, I think, very great charm. There is some furniture in it still and I thought the kitchen was particularly interesting. The stories of Azay Le Rideau, which is a chateau of the Renaissance period, and of Chenonceaux are somewhat similar. In each case a woman persuaded her husband to take money from the king's treasury and give it to her to build a castle. When questioned about it, the husband was unable to give a satisfactory explanation and the Crown took over the castle.
Women seem always, in these pages of history, to get men into trouble. Men seem to go right on being willing to get themselves into trouble, however. So one cannot blame the women for striving to get what they want.