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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.

 

Chartres
Chartres
Chartres

Chartres
Chartres
Chartres
Chartres
Chartres
Chartres
Chartres
Chartres
Chartres
Chartres
Chartres

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.

Chartres
Chartres
Chartres
Chartres
Chartres
Chartres
Chartres
Chartres
Chartres
Chartres

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.

Chartres
Chartres
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Chartres

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!

 

Chartres
Chartres
Chartres

Chartres
Chartres
Chartres
Chartres
Chartres
Chartres
Chartres

I grew up in a suburb outside of Chicago, and have always loved animals.  I was lucky enough to convince my dad to volunteer at the Shedd Aquarium in the city as a youngster, and continued doing so up until The Husband and I moved to France.  Suffice to say that I LOVE going to zoos and aquariums.  I love animals.  Too bad I’m allergic to all of them, or I’m pretty sure The Husband and I would have a regular ménagerie….

 

Anyways, after visiting the jardin des plantes and seeing the zoo there for a French lesson one week, the Logger boys and I decided to hit up the newly re-opened parc zoologique de Paris before we all left the country.  Wow.  That’s all I have to say.  We were in the zoo for around 3 hours, and felt completely content!  And they’re not even done with the construction yet!  I’d love to go back in a few years and see everything once its finished — it is definitely in my top zoos in the world.  Enjoy a few snaps I took while we were there!

 

 Parc zoologique de Paris
Parc zoologique de Paris
Parc zoologique de Paris
Parc zoologique de Paris
Parc zoologique de Paris
Parc zoologique de Paris
Parc zoologique de Paris
Parc zoologique de Paris
Parc zoologique de Paris

Our Paris home was located in a kind of random area — but we loved the location!  Within 20 minutes we could walk to Sacré Coeur or the Arc de Triomphe (walking is always better than metro-ing in Paris) and we definitely took advantage of that short route to take lots and lots of walks in Montmartre.

Every Sunday we walked from our place to Sacré Coeur and back, stopping along the way to look at street art and appreciate the con artists working the streets.  We had some good friends move back to the States about a month and a half before we did, so we took advantage of their last week in town to meet up for a picnic at the foot of Sacré Coeur followed by a leisurely walk around the bobo section of Paris.  The best part was definitely stumbling across the stairs featured in the second part of this video, causing me to sing For Emma for the rest of the evening.

We miss Paris.  We love America, but we miss the place that became our home over the past two years.  Good thing we’ll be having another adventure next!

Montmartre
Montmartre
Montmartre
Montmartre
Montmartre
Montmartre
Montmartre
Montmartre

The Husband and I have been trying to take time out of our schedules to visit everything that we haven’t been able to do yet in Paris.  A few weekends ago I was able to head out of the city to visit the Château d’Écouen, home of the Renaissance Museum for France.

It was nice to visit a Château that wasn’t extremely crowded — there were only about 3 other people in the whole château!  The funniest part of the whole ordeal was the fact that in almost every room there was a sign explaining that this wasn’t the original decor, that had been sent to this or that château, and what was currently found in the room was from this or that other château.  My personal favorite room was the gallery of stained glass, which, as the sign so kindly explained, used to be completely lined with stained glass that now resides in another Château, so now the walls are entirely covered in tapestries with nary a window in sight, haha.

Although this Château did have its quirks, it was definitely worth the 30 minute ride out of the city if only for the walk through the woods that we were able to make to get back to the train station.  It was beautiful!

Château d'Écouen
Château d'Écouen
Château d'Écouen
Château d'Écouen
Château d'Écouen
Château d'Écouen
Château d'Écouen
Château d'Écouen
Château d'Écouen
Château d'Écouen
Château d'Écouen
Château d'Écouen
Château d'Écouen
Château d'Écouen
Château d'Écouen
Château d'Écouen
Château d'Écouen

One of the fun things that I do here is work as a private French teacher for ex-pats.  Lucky me I have the coolest students who like to go on outings to practice their vocabulary!

A few weeks ago we learned about des animaux and a group of us set out to the Ménagerie du Jardin des plantes to practice naming animals.  It had been so long since I’d been to a zoo that I’d forgotten how fun they can be!  Highlights included two apes kissing, seeing raccoons in captivity, the hedgehog exhibit, and hanging out with four teenage boys all afternoon.  They keep me young.

Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes
Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes
Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes
Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes
Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes
Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes
Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes
Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes
Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes
Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes
Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to hang out with one of my old roommates in Paris!  I have to say, the next time you’re planning a reunion with friends you haven’t seen in a while, Paris is the place to go!  The weather was beautiful, the food was great, and we were able to walk from landmark to landmark for most of the day, seeing the sights while talking!  Unfortunately, I had to leave early after a frantic call from The Husband about our bathroom flooding due to a leak from the ceiling (darn those upstairs neighbors who left their shower on all day…), but it was still a fantastic day!

Right before we left, we spent an hour or so under the Arc de Triomphe.  Because we don’t actually go up close and look at it very often, I always forget how intricate and beautiful it is.   I couldn’t get over the detailing that had been done on this giant block of stone!  Hence all the photos…

L'Arc de Triomphe
L'Arc de Triomphe
L'Arc de Triomphe


L'Arc de Triomphe


L'Arc de Triomphe
L'Arc de Triomphe

If the weather looks gorgeous in these photos, thats because it was.  How I’m yearning for those days 0f 60 degree weather now that its in the 90’s and we don’t have ac….