This blog is posted when we travel overseas taking a break from our Fulltime RV Life.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Day in Chartres


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At last, a hotel with a real French breakfast. Linda went with grapefruit juice, coffee, yogurt, cheese, apricot jelly, nectarine and a croissant. Then she sent me back to get her another croissant and I don’t think that even filled her up from the look on her face. I tell her she may dress like a French woman but she sure doesn’t eat like one.

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Can you guess what our first stop of the day was? The local market was being held this morning in the circa 1900 cast iron Halle (market) and we really enjoyed looking at the local produce, meats, flowers and cheeses. I’ll let you guess which we found most interesting. And just for the record, we did not buy anything at the market.

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One of the great things about exploring these towns is wandering into places that are off the beaten path, in this case a church in another part of the town not often frequented by the hordes around the Chartres Cathedral. Somehow a bird had flow into the church and just as I was taking a photo of this sculpture it landed. That was pretty neat, but it was nothing compared to the sheen and beauty of the face of the sculpture in the photo.

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The magnificent flying buttresses of that same church. This entire church would have fit inside one of the transepts of the Chartres Cathedral, but it isn’t always size that matters, as sometimes, if not all the time, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

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Back inside the Church, the stained glass windows of the Choir may not have been as famous a those in Chartres Cathedral, but they were nearly as old and they were much easier to see. Once again proving that it isn’t always how big it is, it’s how you use what you have that is important. Let the bigger is better folks mob Chartres Cathedral, we like it here where there are just a handful of people and we can easily see everything.

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One thing that really surprised me was the fact that this church did not have a massive set of organ pipes hanging high on the wall of the church.  Instead there was this organ console with pipes set in one side of the choir.

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A sign on the side of the organ console. A fellow classmate and friend of mine has been a lifelong Church organist. I wonder if she has ever had to post a sign like this on the side of one of her church organs?

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The pedal for the organ. I imagine that they are the same for most organs. Understand that with my hearing I can’t tell one note from another, let alone begin to play a musical instrument.

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I’m guessing that that the Bombarde pedale has something to do with playing very, very loud. It’s the great thing about traveling the way we do. We never know what we are going to find, and even when we do find something, we often don’t know what it was we found. Linda’s musical career ended after a few years of piano lessons. Mine ended the very second the music teacher had me sing a few notes or blow into the trumpet. But then just how many of those musical people can recall that Julius Caesar's army crossed  the Rubicon River in 49 BC like I can. I enjoy their music, I enjoy history. I’d say that makes me a very well rounded person. And if we stay in France much longer and have many more multi-course French meals, I’m going to be a very well rounded in more ways than one.

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Another part of Chartres. A narrow passage. A girl that just has to touch the past. Outside of Paris, the towns we have been in have been littered with half timbered buildings from the 1400 and 1500’s. Most people have absolutely no appreciation of history in the US, where anything older than 100 years is so dilapidated it is ready to be torn down. Live in something that old! No way! Here you see it everywhere and without a second thought. We’ve been in France long enough that I think I can rightly say that: Everything American is so gauche.

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That was probably the best place to end this post but unfortunately there was still more going on on in Chartres tonight. It was the Night of the Luminaire Celebration and there were thousands and thousands of people in town. The streets were so packed that at times it was impossible to move. This is the inside of the Cathedral illuminated with blue and red lights. This wasn't just a happening, it was a HAPPENING. Never in our wildest dreams could we have imagined stumbling upon something as grand as this.

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I really wish we had photos that would show just how spectacular tonight was, but we don’t. If you ever get the chance to be in Chartres the weekend in the middle of September when they hold the Luminaire Festival, do what ever it takes to be there. It is literally a once in a lifetime event. There are some things that can not be put into words, this is one of them. Midnight? Midnight is early when you are part of something like this.
We read in the guide books that Chartres is worth a day trip from Paris at the most and really just a half day for nearly any American. This is why we do our own thing. This is why we take the guide books with a grain of salt. This is why we spend months at a time in Europe instead of just a week or ten days like most people. Day trippers, eat your heart out. This is what travel in Europe is all about. Just like Full Time RV travel in the US. A day here, a day there, you see and experience nothing. Spend time and and you LIVE LIFE.

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