Before we set off, I must take you back almost exactly 50 years.
A group from Magdalen College School, Oxford, UK were on a trip to the French Pyrenees, travelling by trains, planes and automobiles and arriving in dribs and drabs at Cauterets.
Apart from us schoolboys, the group consisted of two music masters and their wives, the school’s boarding-house matron, a physics master with a commendable appreciation of the wit of Michael Flanders and Donald Swann (At the Drop of a Hat), and classics teacher Mike.
My climbing partner David and I were travelling with Mike in his clapped-out Cortina, bringing much of the climbing gear. Mike was terrifying. Not in the way school masters can be terrifying. Mike was terrifying because of his driving. He was scarily incompetent on British roads and, on other side of the road in France, he became truly terrifying. So, at the first opportunity, I suggested he take a rest. From then on, David and I took turns driving all the way through central France to the mountains.
En route (note that little French touch), we stopped at Chartres. Chartres boasts a gobsmacking cathedral. It’s the one with the asymmetric spires flanking a rose window over the western door.