In the poet’s footsteps…

(The alleyway to a side entrance. Can you see the little door cut into the big door on the left?)

We are on our way to Dijon (thanks to a recommendation from Cormac) but I went to visit one of the cathedrals in Auxerre before we left, Saint-Etienne Cathedrale. Turns out there’s a slight Irish connection. I bought the little guide leaflet to get the details, short as they are.

(Yes, you, come on it!)

The cathedral nestles among houses and gardens built around it. It was definitely here first – the guide says there was a cathedral here in 400AD. Then you might expect a respectable building distance to be observed all around but maybe this is more healthy, everyone snuggled in together. As I rounded the last corner I could see I had come to a dead end but there was a door. I wasn’t sure if I should go on until I noticed a small sign.. Entree, Entrance. Come on in!

(The back of the door)

The surprise after that little door is the internal space is very impressive. It’s still in use on Sundays for mass but today there were groups of French tourists having a guided tour.

(Makes you look up)

There was a railing running around the back of the altar with posters commemorating a famous French poet who lived in Auxerre. Her name was Marie Noël (1883-1967). There was a lovely picture of her walking up the narrow alleyway outside the cathedral towards the little door. She looks like any little old lady you’d see walking up to mass but now here she was up on a poster inside the cathedral. Very surreal. I bought a booklet about her in the tiny book shop there. Google translate and I are working our way through it.

(That’s one of the Marie Noël posters in the cathedral)

It’s hard going so maybe I’ll just enjoy the pictures of her. I nearly forgot about the connection with Ireland – it’s St. Patrick! It seems he was here and was trained by Saint Germain who was bishop in Auxerre in 418 AD. Hang on, why didn’t St. Patrick bring French to Ireland?

We’d all be fluent, Mairead.

(There we are on our way to Dijon)

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