SEPTEMBER 5, 1956
GENEVA—We had rain Friday and it stayed with us all day. It was discouraging, but nothing can now really interfere with our very pleasant trip.
This last day in France we first visited Chambord. I shall always remember the number of chimneys in the Chateau Chambord, for there is one for each of the 365 days of the year.
The chateau was used only three weeks of the year, but 500 servants were needed to keep it in order. And 1,200 horses were kept in the stables.
From there we went to Blois, which is historically interesting because the Court of France remained there for 200 years. Its great chateau was added to by three different kings and the great hall, truly an impressive sight, is the oldest room in the building.
The most attractive rooms are the ones used by Catherine de Medici. Her rooms were paneled in carved wood and every panel was different. She had an ingenious device whereby these panels opened and revealed secret shelves behind them. The guide said that the popular belief was that Catherine de Medici kept her poisons on these shelves, but historians doubt that such a clever woman would have kept the poisons in a place so clearly identified with herself.
Cruel and scheming she undoubtedly was, but she must have loved beautiful things because all of her rooms looked out on the most lovely scenes and the decorations always were quite delightful.
As you look at these great rooms, you have to be reminded that the tile and marble floors often were covered with straw to keep them warm in winter and the tapestries were hung on the walls for warmth as well as for beauty.
The enormous fireplaces could not have heated the rooms, so there were hanging partitions that could be pulled across the rooms to make them smaller and keep them warmer when occupied by only a few persons.
Furniture was no problem for, in the early days, banquet tables were ornamented boards laid on stretchers and brought in when needed. A king often took his chair with him. And I imagine there were benches and stools and even pillows on the floor for the courtiers and ladies who attended parties there.
Chartres was our last stop and even the rain could not dim the beauty of the cathedral. It is the one cathedral that has windows of colored glass nearly the whole way around. Here and there are lighter ones, probably intentionally placed to light the interior in a specific way.
From my point of view, this is the warmest and most beautiful of all the cathedrals I know in France and I love to go back and see it.
I think that people go there because they love the cathedral, and the architect who showed us around certainly has a great affection for his work, and so do the priests. It is good to be happy and devoted to the building in which you are working or conducting services in ministry to God.
We are back in Paris and the rain has discouraged us, so we are going to have a quiet evening and Saturday afternoon we will leave for Geneva.