National Geographic : 1915 Nov
little brass - bellied engines snort importantly, as they tow clattering trains of toy cars behind in their wanderings. The sleepy railway stations glimmer a dull red or tan in the golden sun, and soft-eyed, black - haired country folk watch with unfailing interest as the trains roll in and out. Poitou is very easy of access from Paris by rail-yet who knows Poitou? It is full of lovely little towns; here one clustering about the skirts of a molder ing chateau upon a hill; there one compacted closely by the demands of modern com merce about railway station or factory. And there is St. S a v i n, straggling leisurely along the banks of the cold, dark, swift little river Gar temps, which is full of trout. As many houses as can have crowded down to the walled bank, and the tall, precise pop lars whisper over their dull red ioofs as the stream flows by, its shining breast gay with vast garlands of a slender weed spangled with myriads of tiny, white blossoms. The lofty trees and the an cient monastery, now turned PAP into a gendarmerie; the old mill, with its low dam; and the squat, massive bridges give St. Savin character and to spare. But the town's distinction is apart from its beauty-its towering old monastic church, whose soaring vault is illuminated yet with exceedingly curious and dramatic twelfth century paintings, among the rarest of their kind. ONLY ONE LEVEL SPOT Poitou's principal city and capital, Poi tiers, has a most remarkable location upon a pear-shaped hill, moated about naturally by the little rivers Clain and Boivre, which have made it almost an island. It is so compact, so jammed to gether, that the only level spot in town is the main square, upon the very crest of the hill. Everywhere else you go either up or down, and every street is crooked. Photo by Arthur Stanley Riggs NAAND LITTLE YVONNE AT THE PARDON All types of church architecture are represented on these crooked streets, from the unpretentious little primitive Christian chapel of St. Jean, part of which dates fr6m Roman times, on through temples of every size and style and idea the creative centuries produced, past amazing Romanesque Notre Dame la Grande-an edifice so bizarre, so as tonishingly carved and decorated, it seems more like a Hindu temple than a church and on to the cathedral, with its remark able southern Gothic interior, given per spective and beauty by the adroit nar rowing and lowering of the lofty arches. It is the most astonishing ecclesiastical medley imaginable, with quite as much emphasis upon harmonic discords as upon the dignity and proportion that so distinguish most of the churches of France.