I took the train out to Chartres to get away from the city for the day. Chartres is a different world compared to Paris. The streets are quiet, air is breathable, and birds sing as the cumulus clouds fill the blue sky. I left around 8 this morning and returned around 3:30. It was the perfect amount of time to enjoy the town and cathedral to myself in the morning, take a tour, and then savor my lunch.
Chartres is mostly known for its cathedral. It is the best preserved Gothic cathedral in Europe. The relic that has made this a pilgrimage sight for so many is Mary’s veil. Veil takes on a different meaning in this case than what we normally think. The cloth is a portion of what Mary wore while giving birth to Jesus. Besides the relic, the cathedral is also known for its labyrinth. Unfortunately, it was covered by chairs, so I could not follow the path to Jerusalem. Mary is truly the star of this Notre Dame. She is featured everywhere, with the main theme of assumption.
The celebrity of the Cathedral is Malcolm Miller. He is in his 57th year of providing tours of the church, and I am sure not one has been exactly the same as another. I highly recommend joining him if you are looking for a scholarly, intellectual perspective. He typically leads tours at 12:00 and 2:45, but check out near the gift ship on the board ahead of time because his schedule can change. Today he had to wait for the internet man from 2-6, so he did not have his afternoon tour. If you want to take a tour at home, he will be filming a documentary with Rick Steves next month that will be aired on public television in the future.
There are other sights in Chartres besides the Cathedral. There is shopping, other churches, the Eure River, and the picturesque town. Here is the walk I went on today. Well, it sort of is, because I went down several little passages that google maps does not show. Take these little passages for scenic escapes from the main streets. While walking, I recommend you step in the St. Aignan Church because the painted walls are stunning, and the stained glass is at eye level. There was no one else inside while I was there, so I felt a very personal connection to the place.
It was a great photo day. There was light, clouds, and blue sky. What more could a girl ask for? More history about the cathedral will be shared in a later post if you’d like to learn more.