I have to admit that I threw a bit of a wobbly in the car when Sophia broke it to me that we were booked into a Best Western chain hotel in the ancient cathedral town of Chartres. Suddenly it felt more like my old rock'n'roll days on tour with the sound crew than a pilgrimage to the world's most exalted gothic masterpiece.
But Le Grand Monarque wasn't like any Best Western hotel that I'd ever experienced before. For one thing, it had been converted into what I would describe as a rather quirky boutique hotel from a former seventeenth century coaching inn, and we liked quirky. Even better, its restaurant boasted a wine list of 1001 selections.
And then we really had to laugh at The Universe's ironic sense of humor when we realized that the name "Grand Monarch" was actually taken from the epithet of King Louis XIV, the Sun King. Maybe it was just our vivid imagination, but we immediately began to see obscurely meaningful coincidences everywhere.
Not only was the Sun an important element of the pattern that was evolving, in alignment with the Pole Star to delineate the temple Meridian, but Louis himself seemed to exhibit a royally impish sense of humor as he embroidered cunning little symbolic references into his monuments and palaces. For instance, his chateau at Marly was designed with twelve satellite pavilions, each assigned to a zodiac sign and decorated accordingly.
Therefore perhaps it was no coincidence that it was under the auspices of the Sun King that the building of the Paris Observatory, marking the official Paris Zero Meridian, was commissioned to plans devized by the architect Claude Perrault. Furthermore, the cornerstone of the observatory was laid on June 21, 1667... the date obviously chosen to coincide with Summer Solstice, when the sun is in the highest point in the sky directly over the Tropic of Cancer, corresponding to John the Baptist in our metaphorical Temple of Solomon.
So, by this time Soph and I had already grasped, as we had walked the mirroring solar meridian in the church of Saint Sulpice in Paris on the Vernal Equinox, that a clever play on words referring to the two Perrault brothers, constructors of observatories and fairy tales, had been craftily woven into the final stanza of the Priory of Sion's obscure poem, The Serpent Rouge:
"Deliver me from the mire I say, and immediately awaken. I have omitted to tell you that it was a dream I had on this 17th January, the day of Saint Sulpice. On reflection, my trouble persisting, I wish that I had told it to you as a fairytale by Perrault."
Which is why we thought that it was particularly intriguing that the Sun King had also commissioned Claude's brother, Charles Perrault, the famous author of fairytales such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, to construct an elaborate labyrinth garden feature in the grounds of the Palace of Versailles in 1666, just the year before the Paris Observatory was begun.
Consequently, as much as I hated tourist traps, the more we looked at Louis and his gang's architectural epigrams, the more we agreed that we would eventually have to visit the Palace of Versailles - which we were virtually passing en route to Chartres - at some point in our emerging philosophical pilgrimage.
But, for now, here Soph and I were, trundling along the N10 from Paris to Chartres in Hildegard, my ever-faithful BMW, on our way to a Best Western hotel named after the Sun King on a quest to find a new MemoryMap headquarters and the Temple of Solomon all within the space of one weekend…
Special thanks to Saint Fulbert of Chartres and the Archangel Michael for the attainment of the Donum Dei for Michael on April 10th. IHVH ALOAH VA DAATH.