Thursday, August 5, 2010

Chartres Cathedral

Moving day again….on the road about 9:30 am…it was a cold morning; it rained last night. I dug my zip-on pant legs out this morning and they felt good. People in shorts looked cold, especially in the wind. We really took it slow on our drive to Rambouillet; using all small roads through fields and mostly forests and many little villages. If we hit a larger town we found a way around most of the time.

We did stop for a church that wasn’t open in Corbeil and found instead bridges and a small stream just waiting for photos. My friend Jan wanted to know if the flowers in Melun were morning glories….after inspecting these and looking at both petunias and morning glories on the Internet….we’re still not 100% sure which they are. But, they are beautiful!

I did get to see one field of my girls (sunflowers)…probably the last ones of the trip…they looked tired and on the down side of life! We drove today in a beautiful area known as the Ile de France which includes the city of Paris. This area is still very involved in farming…I finally got a photo of one of the tall haystacks for you. They make these gigantic bales…each bale is three to four times the ones we had as kids…it takes a machine to lift one of these bales. They stack them up in the fields to the size of a two to three story house. They do the same thing with the large rolls of hay but it’s just not quite as impressive as the bales.

The second half of our trip today took us through miles of a forest known as Rambouillet Forest that runs for miles much like the State of California…thin and long. Our hotel is located in the center and has its own Chateau that we’ll visit on Saturday. Our Etap Hotel is located on the southern end of the city and was relatively easy to find. It’s always a challenge no matter how good the maps are it seems. We found someone home; it was only 1:00 pm and we weren’t sure we would; managed to check in and unload the car. We then headed south towards Chartres in the car on the northerly route and came back on the southern route making a full circle of our afternoon adventure.

Chartres is a large city and famous for its Cathedral dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus. In 876 the church acquired the two thousand year old veil supposedly worn by Mary when she gave birth to Jesus. From that point on this has been a pilgrimage church and people came from far and wide to pay homage. When that church burned in 1194 and the veil didn’t…to celebrate they built the present day cathedral. Notice the last photo of our shoes on the symbol of the trail for the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela…yes this is one of the trails that leads south to Spain connecting along the way with trails from other parts of France.

Okay…the reason that we go and have gone on several different trips is to see the stained glass windows. The color of the blue that is used in the windows is of such a unique intensity that it has become known as “chartres blue” in the color charts. The Cathedral is undergoing extensive restoration works that was commenced in 2009 and will continue until 2014; and probably beyond that date as things are rarely finished on time. The front of the church has a scrim on the front but both of the side entrances are now finished. The nave in the sanctuary has been cleaned around the top contrasting sharply with the bottom section that has not been cleaned. They are now cleaning the main altar.

Our visit began many miles northeast of the city as we gazed across the freshly cut wheat fields to see the very unusual dual spires that rise out of the top of the cathedral. We were able to watch the bell towers increase in size as we neared the city. If you drive in from the northeast on route D906 you find this very unusual view; we’ve only arrived from this direction once and it was years ago. Generally we arrive from the south or west.

You’ll also enjoy the stained glass store that is next to the church; we stopped to visit before we finished our walk around the outside of the church. So tempting to purchase something but fortunately there is absolutely no room in the suitcases! Around to the back of the Cathedral we looked over the vista views of the city and down into the yard of the abbey next door to see the maze in the grass. There is also a maze on the stone floor of the church but they had chairs sitting on top of it so we couldn’t really appreciate that one.

Back to the car and home to Rambouillet for the evening. We had to purchase Internet time here; they use the Orange network…works well except that Skype does not work with voice to voice calls…but computer to computer works well. Had to decided on a range of offerings from 4.95 euros for an hour, ten hours for 15 euros or 30 days for 20 euros. We decided to just get the 30 day one and be done with it since we’re here three evenings and both love being on the wifi! The television stations are all in French so the computer Internet is really important. Until tomorrow…. Au Revoir…

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