TBT - France | Chartres Cathedral
We had left Switzerland mid morning, and by lunch were crossing the border into France. We stopped at a road side rest stop for some food, and to my delight, French macarons!! I’ve had a long standing obsession with macarons, so I was delighted to be able to try some authentic ones from the motherland. It was no Laduree (yet!), but the place that we got them from was pretty good as well. It was called Paul, and they had macarons the size of my palm! I got a chocolate and a pistachio and was in macaron heaven as I ate them on our way to Chartres. Look how happy I was:
Our drive through the French countryside to get to Chartres was absolutely beautiful. We drove through quaint little French towns with mint shutters on the stone houses, and roads lined with trees so green and tall, I could have sworn I had seen the road in a movie.
However, true to form for every drive we had taken on our trip to Europe, we got lost when we got close to the campground we were staying at. The next time I go back to Europe, I’m not relying mainly on Google. I’ll bring my old fashioned paper maps and navigate using those. Much more reliable.
Once we finally found the campsite, we settled in for dinner and then some sleep.
In the morning, we were up bright and early to pack up the RV and drive over to the Chartres Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres. It’s a stunning example of Gothic architecture, with it’s contrasting spires, countless flying buttresses, and almost entirely original stained glass windows.
We actually had to walk through the surrounding town to get to the Cathedral, and were pleased to find a cute little orange cat sitting on one of the doorsteps. He of course got a little pet from me.
Once we got through the town and found the Cathedral (it wasn’t hard), I couldn’t take pictures fast enough. I remember learning about the Cathedral in my art history classes and was just stunned to be able to see all of the details up close.
The area surrounding the Cathedral was beautiful as well, with perfectly green, perfectly manicured lawns.
After we had photographed our way around to the right hand side of the Cathedral, we made our way inside to see the interior. We were lucky that we were there on a day that wasn’t too busy, because it made the experience all the more awe-inspiring. The stained glass was even more beautiful from the inside of the Cathedral, where the sun lit up all the colours in the glass.
The Cathedral interior is nearly as beautiful as the outside with it’s artfully vaulted ceilings, and the chancel screen that is intricately carved to show the story of the Virgin and her son. Chartres also houses a veil that is believed to have been worn my the Virgin Mary when she gave birth to Jesus.
After we had gotten our fill of the inside, and lit a candle for my Nanny, we exited back into the bright French sun to view the front facade of the Cathedral.
Usually, I’m one for symmetry, but the contrasting spires really make for a very unique facade. The construction of the spires, as well as the entire building is a stunning example of Gothic architecture, and was my favourite time period to study when in school. There’s something about flying buttresses that I’ve always found very intriguing - the way that they play with the positive and negative space of the building makes for a beautiful visual effect.
After enjoying the front facade of the Cathedral, and taking a walk around all of the cute little shops that they had in the square, we headed back to the RV to start the last drive of our trip into PARIS!!
If you’re planning a trip to France, I would definitely consider planning on making a day trip out to Chartres. It’s only about an hour and a half drive, but well worth it to see the charming small town and magnificent Gothic Cathedral.
If you’ve ever been to Chartres, were you as blown away by the beauty of the Cathedral as I was? Let me know!