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Chartres

After visiting the Cathédrale de Chartres, the Husband and I still had some time left before our afternoon train back to Paris, so we decided to further explore Chartres.  Before going to visit for the day, some friends had lent us a book about the town that gave us a hankering to explore some of the other cathedrals in the area.  What can I say, we’re suckers for a good church (which, surprisingly, are all over the place in Chicago!  Now to just figure out if its culturally acceptable here to go into a church and walk around like we do in France….).

We visited two other churches that we came across while simply meandering the streets of Chartres (which were much more quaint than those of Paris…).  Our favorite church was definitely the first church — it was simply one of those magical moments that we will never forget.

I’ve always heard that cathedrals were once painted and have such have spent hours sitting in cathedrals across France, trying to imagine what they once looked like.  The beauty of this particular cathedral, painted, left me almost in tears.  imagine my further joy when, all of the sudden, organ music started booming around us, echoing through the beautiful passageway that we were standing in.  We were all alone in the cathedral except for the mystery organist, so The Husband and I sat down to enjoy the moment, not speaking, simply soaking it all in.  After about half an hour, the music stopped, and slowly a man in business attire carrying a lunch bag and a briefcase descended from the alcove and left the building with a simple “Au revoir”.

The second cathedral we visited was beautiful in a more simple, sad way.  It was obvious once again that we were the only ones there, and that these other cathedrals in Chartres do not have the resources to restore them in a way that would rival the Cathédrale de Chartres.  We made sure to donate whatever sous we had on us at each cathedral, but it was sad to see that these churches, as beautiful as they are, are under appreciated by the tourists that take the trek out to Chartres.

 

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Out of all the cathedrals and churches in France that The Husband and I have been to throughout the years, I definitely think Chartres has the most beautiful grounds.  What made the grounds even more magical was the free baguette that we ate for lunch on the grounds!

Funny story — The Husband and I spent probably a half an hour walking around the little side streets, looking for the perfect place to eat lunch.  As we were just about to give up and go to a place neither one of us wanted to go, a nice looking lady stopped us on the street and asked if we eat baguettes.  Um, YES!  Only like 2 a day.  Turns out she was from the office of tourism and they were doing a baguette survey — we took ten minutes to taste test baguettes for the city and we got our favorite one for free as a thank you gift.  Pretty good deal, right?  This is why we love France and we love being able to speak French.  If we had only spoken English we would have been a no go!  God bless those baguette loving people.

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Buckle your seatbelts for even more photos of Chartres!  I couldn’t help myself — not only do I normally take way more photos than actually needed, I was mid-4 month freak-out about how we were leaving France soon and wouldn’t have many more opportunities to take photos of places like this.  If you want to see even more (but still not the full collection), check out my flickr page by clicking on the photos.

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About a month before we left France The Husband and I decided we needed one last trip to a historical site in France.  We enjoyed le Mont-Saint-Michel so much that we knew our choice needed to be another church.  They just don’t make them in America like they did in Europe!  So, off we went to the town of Chartres, about an hour train ride from Paris that cost us all of €12 each.

The town itself is beautiful.  Full of winding streets paved by cobblestone and with churches on almost every corner, it is a quintessential stereotypical French town.  Now, I have to say that we had been told so so so much about Chartres, so we were expecting a lot.  And it didn’t disappoint!  But I will say that Chartres itself was not our favorite church in the town — that will come in the next post!

 

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