A short taxi ride landed us in the middle of the town of Chartres, at the foot of the hill on which the cathedral loomed. From the window of the restaurant where we breakfasted, we could see the south entrance and already at 8:00, visitors gathering and gawking. We walked around the periphery, including the bishops' gardens, where a gardener was on duty preparing supports for topiary, and around the west, north, and finally east portals. At the east entrance a fellow was holding a bouquet of yellow lilies and singing in French, welcoming the folks who came to see the building.
Entering the cathedral, the first thing I noticed was a pronounced lack of light. Although this Gothic style of architecture was supposed to be a great improvement over the Romanesque, with the Gothic improvements in weight distribution allowing more light to stream in through the clerestory and upper tier windows, it was still dim. Perhaps this was because the sun was occluded by clouds outside; if there were more sunlight outside there would be more to come through the windows. A second discovery was that there was to be an extremely auspicious organ recital the next day: the International Organ Competition, so there were chairs set up on the famous labyrinth, making it impossible to walk it. This might force me to return at a later date, or barring that possibility, I may have to build a facsimile. Ken, any thoughts?
Having spent a goodly amount of time with the cathedral, it was time to find the Reformed church digs. About a mile or so away, their church had one small sign indicating its presence; we almost missed it coming from the town, as it faced the other direction. Tucked between two houses, their simple brick and stone building stood with a lone staircase, twin doors, and a bulletin board on the outside. Worship was held once, at 10:15 on Sunday morning. Two stray cats greeted us, and we surprised a couple of teen-aged girls chatting away their afternoon at the top of the fire escape on the left side of the building. Beyond them, there was no other living being to be found. Quite a difference from the crowd at the Cathedral.
Noting that we would not be able to attend Reformed worship in the morning because of the train schedule, we opted for Roman worship for the vigil. The priest greeted us warmly, the service paper provided scores and texts for most of the musical parts, and we only had to mumble some of the bits we did not know the responses to.
After church, we searched for supper, and ended up in a tex-mex French restaurant. Interesting, but not as authentic as one might hope. The cheese at least was good. Then it was back, pack, and smack the sack. Tomorrow would be a traveling day.
This page was last edited on November 08, 2010