Europe 2012: Day 30, Bayeux to Chartres

Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres, France. Notice the dark clouds.  Could that be more rain?

Friday, July 06, 2012

Woke at 6:30am.   It is sunny (but I won’t let that fool me).

Today we travel from Bayeux to Chartres and we say good-bye to Hotel le Bayeau (a nice, comfortable, and quiet hotel that could use more electrical outlets for our electronic stuff).  We take the train back to Paris to transfer to another train to Chartres.    It will take 2 hours to go to Paris where we will have an hour and a half wait.  It will take another hour to Chartres.

What have we learned in Bayeux:

  • Book your tours of the D-Day beaches early!  Next time, we would spend the bucks and book a private tour with an historian.
  • It is easy to forget what happened on Utah and Omaha beaches — these events changed the world yet the evidence has been washed away by the sea.   Children now play there.  I guess that this is how life moves forward.
  • Americans are still held in high esteem in the French region of Normandy.   In store fronts are the words “We Welcome our Liberators!”  I wonder if our generation has lived up to the right to that continued esteem?

While we were waiting for the train, my DH and I reflected on our first 30 days of our trip.   Overall, it has been a positive experience!  Yeah, traveling in Europe has its challenges and inconveniences but then so does going to work each day back home.  However, w e have had experiences out of the ordinary and we can’t help but believe that this is a good thing.   My DH says “it builds character.”   I tend to agree!  So far, there have been no major disasters.

We arrived in Chartres without incident.  From the train station, to the Hotel Mercure, to walking to the city center, all in 15 minutes, no time wasted – “Boom, boom, boom!” my DH says.  He gives this arrival a 10!  We only have one evening here so we have to make the best of it!

It was 2pm and the sun was shinning.   We went to the tourist office and got a map.  We went to a bakery and got a ham and cheese sandwich to share.   Since it was sunny, we decided to take a walking tour through the old part of Chartres.   All was well until it started to rain.  We hid in doorways.   When the rain let up, we continued our walk.  When the rain started again, we hid in yet another doorway.  Within minutes, there was a downpour!  Big heavy wet drops that exploded like little grenades on the payment!   Soon, there was a small river developing in the curb at our feet.

DH waiting for the rain to stop. (Chartres, France)

Across the street was an old church.  When the rain let up a bit, we dashed for the church – “What’s a better place to wait out of storm,” we thought.  We were right!

Church of Saint-Aignan, Chartres, France. Looks like nothing from the outside, but the inside will surprise you!

One of the few churches that still has its original painted designed on the walls and stone. (Church of Saint-Aignan, Chartres, France)

One of the stained glass windows in Church of Saint-Aignan (Chartres, France)

When we were sure the rain had stopped, we abandoned the idea of the walking tour and decided to see the one and only true attraction in Chartres –  Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres.   From the outside it looks like any number of old churches that we have seen on this trip so far.  It is old.  It is big.   It is gothic.  But the real magnificence of this church can only be viewed from inside – this cathedral is all about its stained glass windows!

Front windows of Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres, France.

Altar windows of Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres, France.

One of the side windows of Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres, France. Interesting fact — my DH stood in this very spot, looking at this very window, 30 years ago on his first trip to Europe.

Not the best picture (you can’t use your flash in the church so I always have to try to find something to lean against to steady my hand) but I wanted to show you the sheer size of the structure. (Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres, France)

We must have spent about 2 hours in this cathedral just looking at the glass and reading about the construction of this cathedral spanning three centuries.  Eventually we noticed some heavenly singing and saw a small choir reheasring by the altar.  They did not seem to mind us when we sat down to listen, so we did.   Apparently they were warming up for a concert they would be giving in 10 minutes, so we sat down for that too.

Choir from Canterbury, England on their European tour, ( Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres, France)

I love choirs and this choir was exceptional!  Their voices whispered and then soared — it was the ethereal sound of angels!   I was in a choir in high school so I know the work that goes into such perfection.   According to their flyer, this choir was touring Europe and performed in other cathedrals like Notre Dame (Paris) and Westminster Abbey (London).     In case you don’t know, the best way to listen to an A cappella choir is with your eyes closed.

By 6pm, we were hungry.   We had an early dinner at Le Serprente next to the cathedral.   It was a French bistro with a classic French menu.   I ordered the Salade Nicoise, my DH ordered the white fish with roasted veggies.  Both meals were excellent!   I have discovered a new drink – Kir Sauvignon (white wine with Cassis liquor).

Early dinner at Le Serpente.  Do you think it is going to rain? (Chartres, France)

After dinner, we attempted to complete our walking tour of the city — but it rained.

Quote of the Day:  “It probably won’t last long.”  — My DH regarding the latest rain shower.  Always the optimist!


One thought on “Europe 2012: Day 30, Bayeux to Chartres

  1. Absolutely breath taking… and I’m not even there, but I feel like I am! There are no coincidences.. you were supposed to enter this Cathedral, at that time, on this day … to have gotten the chance to witness not only the beauty, but to hear the choir perform. Oh, btw, I’m catching up today, 7/13/12, after missing a week of checking your blog.

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