The streets of Toul are laid out haphazardly, in such a way that it is almost impossible to take a short cut between any two places within the city’s ramparts. This is not an unusual feature of old cities in Europe of course, and navigating through their back streets is always challenging because there is no distant line of sight to use as a bearing.
There are only two states of being while walking in the old part of town; one either knows where one is, or one is lost!
The cathedral doesn’t help matters much either or perhaps it even conspires to make things worse. It towers over the town like, well very much like a cathedral really, dominating the cityscape with it’s immense proportions, but because the streets are so narrow and the houses quite tall, it isn’t visible from any where that would make it useful as a navigation beacon from anywhere inside the town limits. Instead, it seems to crouch down so that it can’t be seen until the unsuspecting traveller turns the very last corner, into the tiny square beside which it has been shoe-horned, and then it suddenly appears as if from nowhere.
Graham couldn’t have been given a bigger fright when we turned the corner today if the thing had suddenly shouted “Boo!”
But then we watched with something approaching joy, as we have done many times before as the “old builder” recovered from the surprise and simply stood as if transfixed, his eyes tracing every detail, his mind racing as he contemplated the marvels of engineering and the skill of the craftsmen and the feats of the labourers that had combined to create this edifice.
Then, on cue after the few minutes we knew it would take for his emotions to catch up with his brain and for his pronouncement to be made, it came:
“Oh. That’s Magic!” He breathed.
No one can summarise the impact of centuries old architecture on modern humans more succinctly than Graham.