top of page

Places We Go : Captivating Chartres

Happy Sunday! (BTW, I'll be back on July 7 with a few more adventures in Paris.) Today, let's explore a day trip John, Jim and I took in May. Located only 55 miles from Paris and a quick train ride away, Chartres is known for its cathedral and charming town. And to top it off, once again the sky didn't disappoint. Let's take a look.

The Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres became a World Heritage Site in 1979. Constructed between 1193 and 1250, this Gothic cathedral is in an exceptional state of preservation, having seen only minor changes since the early 13th century.

John found out that the cathedral would be closed the following week for a pilgrimage from Sri Lanka.

A spectacular altar gate of brass.

Chartres is a pleasant town of 170,000. Based on the train schedules, we surmised some people commute into Paris for work.

We landed in a modern restauarant for a traditional lunch. J&J had a first course of escargot.

Notice the green container of eggs at this grocery store? Eggs are not refrigerated in France. Who knew?

I have a couple of tea towels from Garnier-Thiebaut and was trilled to see one of their stores.

A beautiful display of summer canvas fabrics.

I bought a periwinkle tea towel of a hortensia bloom ( hydrangea) for about $20 - here it is at home.

Two kids in a candy store. Actually at a Chocolaterie Royale store, established in 1760.

There was more colorful buildings in Chartres than in Paris.

A shell pink building hidden behind ancient doors.

Beautiful pastels.

Once the summer tourist season starts, we imagined the outdoor cafes will be filled into the night.

Three delicious scoops of Italian gelato : hazelnut, tiramisu and coffee. Each was five Euros - which was good because we only had 15 Euros cash. Fortunately, there was an ATM down the street. I'm not sure if it was the water or the humidity, but almost every day in France was a bad hair day.

I kept imagining people from the 12th century walking these streets.

These buildings looked newer to me and I wondered why.

And then I had another question - who is that man in the wall mural to the left of the cathedral?

jimmy c / facebook

Turns out it's Jean Moulin who was a leading figure and hero in the French Resistance during WWII. He resided in Chartres, was captured in 1940 and heavily interrogated by the Nazis but was able to escape. He made his way to London to meet with Charles de Gaulle where he was given the difficult task of unifying the French Resistance across France. Parachuting in the night into Lyon, he was arrested by the Nazis while meeting with Resistance leaders. After interrogated, tortured and refusing to give any information to his captors, he died on a train on the way to a concentration camp.

collection claude warconsin

Curious about some newer buildings in Chartres led me to research the impact of WWII and I found an amazing story. In the photo above, you can see the cathedral's spires still standing after a U.S. bombing. "The U.S. had given orders to bomb Chartres as it was full of Germans. In August 1944, U.S. Colonel Welborn Barton Griffith, Jr. questioned the necessity of destroying the cathedral and volunteered to go behind enemy lines to find out whether the Germans were using it as an observation post. With his driver, Griffith proceeded to the cathedral and, after searching it all the way up its bell tower, confirmed to Headquarters that it was empty of Germans. The order to destroy the cathedral was withdrawn and the cathedral was saved. Colonel Griffith was killed in action later on that day in the town of Lèves, 2.2 miles north of Chartres." ~ Wikipedia.


What's New
bottom of page