This blog is posted mostly everyday when we take a break from our usual retired Life as former full-time RVer's and travel overseas.
Friday, September 14, 2012
Off to Chartres
Our last meal in the apartment, one where any remaining bits of food found their way onto the plate. I couldn’t believe Linda had all those tomatoes left. Maybe she had a secret stash someplace just in case of a tomato shortage in the markets.
Next we, mostly Linda, cleaned up the apartment, the landlord stopped by to check it out and return our deposit, and soon we were riding the Metro to Gare Montparnasse. This is a huge station that has multiple levels and a number of places where you buy tickets depending on which kind of train you are taking. Of course the first line we got in was the wrong one, and we were directed to another area where we were confronted with two different sections to choose from. This time we got it right and it wasn’t long before we had our senior discount tickets from Paris to Chartres.
In Germany we always bought our tickets from the machines, but here the machines only take a credit card with a chip on it. Otherwise you have to go to the ticket window. Hopefully America will soon stop being a third world country in terms of credit cards. No doubt the same type of people who weren’t intelligent enough to realize the metric system is far superior to our feet, yards, pounds system will be the same ones to rant and rail against chip technology. Others may have a different opinion than I do on this, and I will say they have every right to that opinion, even if they are absolutely wrong.
A departing photo of our apartment. Our kitchen window is the second from the top on the right hand side. There is a beam just below it. We really did enjoy having an apartment and will do the same, but in another area so we can experience another part of Paris next time.
Bags packed and ready to go. This is the stairwell landing outside our apartment. And yes, I know the photo before this one was outside looking up at the apartment, but I took that when I took a walk earlier this morning. One nice thing that we both like is that our bags are already much lighter than when we left the US, not that they were very heavy to begin with.
There were a lot of people leaving Paris this morning, at least in the direction we were going. Paris has seven major train stations, each serving a different area of France. Gare Montparnasse has 27 tracks and serves western and southwestern France, so that was where we and all these people were heading. And if you think 7 major train stations is bad, there are over 270 metro stations in the city, which is why it is so easy to get around town. Sure we sometimes get lost just like everyone else, but we look at it as an adventure and not a problem.
Just to prove that we actually did leave town. This train had double decker cars and we got seats on the upper level for a better view. The train was ready stopped in the station when we boarded so we got these opposing seats so we could sit facing the other way if the train left in that direction. At least that was Linda’s thinking. Since the train was dead ended into the station, I didn’t think there was much chance of its going the other way, but I decided to just keep my mouth shut. Good Bob.
And this just to prove that we really did go to Chartres. There are cathedrals, and then there are Cathedrals. This however, was a CATHEDRAL. And that is even with the Choir blocked off because of the restoration work taking place over a number of years. Chartres is not about the statues and niches, it is about sheer size and stained glass windows. Over the day and a half we were here we came back inside the Cathedral at least a half dozen times to see it as the sun changed position during the day.And to see what it is going to be like when the restoration work is completed, the light colored sections above had been restored.
A close up of a tiny section of one of the many huge original stained glass windows in the Cathedral. The Cathedral is so immense that the windows are far, far away from where the floor is. (They actually rent binoculars so you can see the windows better.) I found it interesting that on the darker north side is where the windows with Old Testament scenes, and those dedicated to the Church’s Bishops are. On the bright, sunny south side is where the New Testament is displayed, Jesus being the Light of the World. Those early Church fathers left nothing to chance when it came to getting the many pilgrims coming to see the Holy Virgin’s robe, to contribute to the Church coffers.
Not sure what the French word “cois” means, but I’d guess it is something on the order of “hen pecked husband.” And yes, Linda had to not only take photos of the sign, but we also had to walk down the street just to see what was there. Which turned out to be nothing other than a very short street that ended in another street.
We eventually ended up down by the Eur River, and discovered why there are “Route touristique” signs along the river. It wasn’t that everywhere looked like this, but there were more than enough places that we soon stopped walking and just stood admiring.
For dinner we had an awesome three course “Menu” meal that was all French. The problem for Linda was that it was just a little to much French, as there was no English menu and the proprietor spoke very little English. When you have to know everything that is in the food it like Linda does, that is bad. When not knowing all that you are getting is an adventure, which is what I enjoy, that is good. I’ll just describe mine which was a crab something appetizer, complete with little bits of crab shell, a white fish in an orange tomato sauce main dish and a fig/grape dessert. Mine was awesome.
This was what Linda enjoyed the most, a snifter of Calvados, and I had one also. From the smile on Linda’s face it was the best thing she had all evening. Though the glass of kir she had before the meal and pichet of red wine with the meal may also have been a contributing factor to her smile. In France, do as the French do. At home she is pretty much just a gin and tonic girl, with an occasional glass of white wine.
This is one of those, you have to see it in person to believe it, things. Chartres has a Luminaire walk every weekend in the summer, and then in mid September they go all out with a grand finale. This is the night before that grand finale, and we walked around town looking at more than a dozen bridges and buildings, which was only a very small portion of all those that were illuminated. This the front of the Cathedral.
You can barely make her out, but over at the side of the Cathedral we found a luminaire that very few people we at. She wasn’t happy about it, but I convinced Linda to go stand on the steps to be part of the luminaire. Notice how she was careful not to move to the left and end up with a blue and red stripped face.
This is another photo that doesn’t do justice to what these luminaires really are. If you have ever seen one you know what they can be. If you never have, all I can say is that were we ever pleasantly surprised. We had no idea when we scheduled our nights in Chartres that this was taking place, or even what a Luminaire was for that matter. We both agreed that if we ever had the opportunity to do this again, we would come back in a heartbeat. Sara N. Dippity was working overtime on this one.