I finished the paper a bit before I had to leave for Chartres with the program yesterday. I was...ok with the results. I did really like the topic, but I wish that I had been able to go further with it. Wouldn't it be nice to have a conversation with the professor be the final, rather than a paper? A twenty minute conversation answering one of the paper topics. That would be amazing.
I liked Chartres. I liked the town a lot. There is a medieval and a new town. And of course I liked the medieval town better for its smaller streets, ridiculously old buildings. There was a nice winding tourist-y shopping area that was nifty and happy. I bought some small presents for people. And the bakeries! And the chocolate shops! One or the other appeared about every 3 stores. Milena and I bought a bunch of sweets for Easter eating. Whoo! First chocolate in 40 days...yum.
The Cathedral: Perhaps the most beautiful building I've ever seen. The oldest bit, the front portal, dates from the mid-12th century. It is the part below the rose window, which was built about 1215. The rest of the cathedral was slowly built until the beginning of the 16th century. The three stained glass windows (mid-12th century) below read from right to left, the colors leading us from dark (blue) into light (yellow). The right one is the Jesse tree (look for the fleur de lys of the French crown) and full of dark blue, representing the darkness that the world lived in before Christ. The middle window is half blue, half yellow. It is the Incarnation window. The left window tells the story of the Passion and the Resurrection and is full of yellow, the light of Christ. The right tower is a Romanesque tower with no wooden supports on the interior-it is entirely stone scales. The left tower is a flamboyant Gothic tower, built at the beginning of the 16th century. Twice they ran out of money and could not complete the tower: once, they built it out of wood (which burnt down) and the second time, they just capped the tower level with the rose window. The altar is a much more recent addition, built in the 1990s. We couldn't see the labyrinth on the floor, as it was Good Friday. Usually on Fridays, they move all the chairs, but Good Friday is the one Friday of the year that they leave the chairs there. Around the sanctuary, there is a choir screen, elaboratly decorated over the 16th and 18th centuries. You can see the changes in style. The flamboyant Gothic: And the Italian Reniassance: There is a Mary chapel on the Mary side, holding the cathedral's relic, Mary's veil. It sat in a tabernacle from about the 11th century to until the 18th century, when they took it out. It had been wrapped in another cloth which has been carbon-dated from the 8th century. About 10-30 years ago, they noticed some decay, restored it and now it is stretched to prevent further cracking. It has not been carbon-dated. Here is the Mary meditation area that they have. The statue has been covered for the holy days.
Our tour guide was a Hindi woman, who was snarky and full of information and generally great. She took extra time to tell us the story of the Joseph window that had been sponsored by the Jewish bankers of the community. She pointed out some of her favorite statues, like this one of Jesus' briss, that we wouldn't have noticed otherwise.
After the tour, we were taken to a restaurant in the medieval town. I thought that there would not be enough room for us in there, as the facade looked tiny and gave me the impression that the interior would be dark and crowded. Not so. It opened up to a sunny yellow and blue fancy restaurant. Rabbit pate and salad was served for starters, followed by rabbit and pasta, then a cheese course, and an apple turnover dessert. I ate the apple, but not the turnover...walking a fine line. Then we had free time until 5 when we took the train back to Paris.