France Day 2, a set on Flickr.We headed into Chartres again on the morning of Day 2, and this time we went into the cathedral. On our approach to the grand edifice, we encountered a small medieval fair nestled in the twisting streets of the town. Tradesmen in costume were exhibiting their work. There were stalls for stone carving, leather work, wool (yarn), chain mail, embroidery, the works! At the end of the road was a beautiful white horse with BIG feet that the kids enjoyed petting and feeding hay.
Chartres Cathedral itself is as spectacular as I read about in high school French class, with its two mismatched towers and vibrant stained glass rose window. I took loads of pictures. The stained glass windows which line the cathedral on either side and centre are absolutely brilliant. The walls and ceiling are intricately carved and the whole space as an aura of the sublimity of heaven about it. The carvings of the 12 Stations of the Cross, which tell the story of Jesus, reminded me of ivory carvings of India, because they were so intricate and had such depth. Another really neat feature of Chartres Cathedral is the labyrinth laid out in stone on the cathedral floor. Back in the day, pilgrims would pace out the labyrinth before heading out on their pilgrimage. Although the labyrinth was covered with chairs for mass when we were there, there was a much smaller one near the cathedral entrance that you could trace out with your finger.
Before we left, I took all the kids up in the tower. We were about halfway up when the huge bell starting tolling noon and the sounds was deafening! Although there were hundreds of steps, and at times I thought my compatriots would give up the quest, we did eventually reach the highest point of the tower! The view was breath-taking. We saw the parents down below and they looked up and waved for a while, but eventually they had to walk away because, as they later told us, we were giving them an attack of vertigo.
We drove from Chartres to our gite just outside Loches. We kept getting lost in the country near the cottage, but the kids didn’t seem to notice. Our gite was a charming old farm cottage with four bedrooms, two full baths, and a large common room with two long tables with benches and a nice kitchen. There were lovely rose bushes out front. My room was on the ground floor and I had my own entrance. The owners of the gite keep chickens and they have a sheep dog called Violette. Opposite our gite is a cow pasture with beautiful brown beauties with long eye lashes grazing on the long grass. The first night we took a long walk to a small pond in the middle of the forest. We saw some really big orangey red slugs. We came back to the gite just as the sun was setting and the moon and stars were shining brightly overhead.