Sunday, June 05, 2005


Last week we took the final tour of my Friday Paris walking group. For the last tour, we always take a bus ride and visit a place outside of Paris. Friday we took the bus to..... Chartres.

As you approach the town of Chartres, the first thing you notice is that Notre Dame de Chartres cathedral seems to be out in the middle of nowhere. It's a very dramatic approach. The cathedral sits on top of a hill and the town, not visible, rests below near the Eure river. Considering it was a major destination for pilgrimages, I can only imagine what people must have thought as the approached the cathedral... it seems to be floating.

The building of Chartres cathedral began in 1145 in early Gothic style. A fire in 1194 damaged most of the cathedral and it was reconstructed over a 26-year period. As a result of the "quick" rebuilding, Chartres cathedral is uniquely homogeneous from an architectural point of view.

Chartres cathedral ... I tried to get a good picture head on, but couldn't. I kind of liked this angle shot so you could really view the two different spires on the front facade. The two contrasting spires....a short, plain one dating from the 1140s... the other tall and ornate dating from the early 16th century.

Chartres Cathedral is a Marian shrine. The current structure was built to honor a veil supposedly worn by the Virgin Mary. Before the 18th Century this veil was known as the "holy shift of the Virgin Mary." The cathedral was commissioned to house this relic of Mary and is the reason the church is named Notre Dame de Chartres cathedral.

Holy Shift of the Virgin Mary. According to experts, the relic probably dates from the 1st century and is of Middle Eastern origin.

The building of Chartres was important because it ushered in the High Gothic phase of architecture. Under this Gothic phase, parishioners were supposed to look to the sky to find God. To that end, the builders figured out how to add windows to the great cathedrals. Large stained glass windows -- with the famous cobalt blue -- were installed in Chartres. In order to support the heavy ceiling in spite of these beautiful windows, the architects used flying buttresses and crossed arches for support. In addition, no longer were pillars built solely to support the building... there were part of the decoration. In Chartres more ornate pillars were used that guided the eye of the worshipers up towards the heavens and God.

Gothic sculptors took a revolutionary step past their Romanesque predecessors in their conception of the figures as independent, almost free-standing statues rather than as reliefs.

Mary and Elizabeth confer before the births of their sons.

In 1979, Chartres was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

After the tour of the cathedral we walked around the town and had lunch at a local brasserie. Chartres is a wonderful place to visit if you are looking for a day trip outside of Paris.

-- said Auntie M in Paris
8:24 PM



Yes, this is much like the caves I see here--they remind me of the great catherdrals in Europe. I will look for some gothic representation today.

# posted by Pecos Blue : 9:21 PM  

This post made me wish to visit...your pictures always make me long for France.

# posted by Michele : 12:53 AM  

Beautiful pictures. Hello, Michele sent me!

# posted by Heather Nicole : 6:17 AM  

We would definitely go to the church if we were there. My husband is a Catherdral fanatic. I've probably been to 60 churches since I've been in Europe. But they always seem to fascinate me.

# posted by mrsmogul : 12:03 PM  

Lovely. Enjoyed the trip with you. Thank you.

# posted by Visage : 6:05 PM  

Oh I just love visiting Chartres. It's one of my favorite cities in France. Great pictures ! You've captured it so well.

# posted by chrisc : 9:37 PM  

You are visiting places I have always wanted to see!

# posted by Margie : 11:11 PM  

Hello kind commenters. I've been terrible responding to your comments!
Pecos, What caves are you talking about??
Michele, Thanks. I always enjoy your visits.
HeatherNicole, Thanks for visiting.
MrsMogul, My sister is a cathedral fanatic too. Whenever I take a trip with her we go see so many churches they all get mixed up in my mind!
Visage, Very kind. Thanks.
ChrisC, I really enjoyed Chartres, but honestly felt a bit rushed. There is so much to see!
Margie, Come back to Paris for a visit!

# posted by Auntie M in Paris : 11:30 PM  

Post a Comment