Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Europe -- Day 8

On Day Eight we hopped on a train and rode for an hour to the town of Chartres to tour the cathedral. My hubby had studied this one during architecture school and was interested to see it in person. It's a good example of Gothic architecture, having been finished fairly quickly, for a cathedral, so its style remains all Gothic. Still, Hubby could see where additions were built on and how the construction of windows and flying buttresses changed as they perfected the techniques. Apparently when cathedrals were being built, it was a bit of a contest to see how high they could go without the whole building collapsing. This required perfecting the techniques of flying buttresses, making them as thin as possible but still strong enough to hold up the church. Same was true for the stained glass windows. "Better" windows were those with less clunky structure and with more glass and more intricate designs.

Chartres was absolutely gorgeous, inside and out. One could spend a lot of time there, there is so much to see. There is a famous Englishman, Malcolm Miller, who went to Chartres at age 24 and stayed. He has spent over 50 years studying the cathedral and becoming a world expert on it. He is now around 80 years old. He gives tours at Chartres, and because he is such a fount of knowledge, each tour will contain different pearls of his wisdom. They say not to miss a tour by Mr. Miller. Sadly, he was not on duty the day we were there, and there were no tours in English available at all. There was a phone-guided-tour which S. took advantage of, but I chose to stroll and look on my own. BTW, the French have honored Malcolm Miller with several medals and awards in thanks for his extensive studies of Chartres.

French roses sont tres jolie, n'est-ce pas?

We ate lunch at a cute little place on a side street, where we got to sit and gaze at Chartres while eating. What a view! We wandered through the town a bit, moseying our way back to the train to get back to Paris. It rained on and off.

Back in Paris, S and A were busy at dinner time, so Hubby and I strolled out on the town, found some food in a couple little shops, and ate our dinner on a bench at the park near the Eiffel Tower. Food was FAB.U.LOUS! Best slice of chocolate cake I've eaten in my whole life! The light show at the Eiffel Tower came on and was really cool. We walked over and decided to climb to the first level. That was plenty of stairs as it was. It was plenty high, too, for seeing a good night view of the city. So pretty! While in there, it rained hard a couple of times, but we were protected by an overhead flooring of the second level. Day 8 was lots of fun, and the evening was relaxing and spontaneous and just about perfect.

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