I do apologise for the three parts of the drive not being consecutive, but I felt that the blogging party in the Loire, and arrival of quadruplets (see last post) were important enough to break the continuity! Then there was the overnight stop at Bourgtheroulde which was really part of the drive, the visit to Lacock in the UK, and a tour around my garden to break up the trip a little further and give a bit of variety! This blog relates the final part of the drive home in May, with a visit to Chartres.
On leaving Bourgtheroulde, we decided to avoid our usual toll road route southwards, and see which way 'George' (our sat nav) would take us through French countryside we had never visited. We kept no notes of the roads we travelled on and blindly followed the satnav instructions (!!); thus it was a bit of a mystery tour, but the first interesting sign which I photographed was at Evreux. This is a town of some 50,000 inhabitants, 60 miles (100km) west of Paris. It has a rich ecclesiastical history, and worth a visit for that. Apart from being a seat of Jewish learning in the Middle Ages, the town has long Roman Catholic history. The well-preserved Cathédrale Notre-Dame d’Évreux shown on the sign is a national monument. Part of it dates back to the 11th century, with towers from the Renaissance period.
According to another large sign in this area, there is also a large chocolate factory here; the photo did not come out well enough to publish, but another good reason to visit this region!!
Driving on further, in hazy light, we suddenly observed, in the very flat landscape, this stunning sight on the horizon.
This photo was taken, as you can see, from a distance; no sign of a town here, just the massive building and its spires. Nigel said "that has to be Chartres Cathedral", so we decided there and then to take time for a quick stop to look at this magnificent place. Driving into the town centre, we followed parking signs until we eventually found a large new underground car park, built in a spiral - a bit freaky! Tourist prices, of course, and on the short walk to the cathedral, we saw a cafe advertising a salad at €10 - not for us!! Another view below of other magnificent architecture to be seen around the cathedral.
The next vision in front of us was the stunning sight of the medieval Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres. It is considered to be one of the finest of French high gothic styles. The present Cathedral was mostly constructed in 1193 and 1250 and is one of at least 5 that have occupied the ground since the 4th century. There have been very few changes to the original building and apparently most of the stained glass windows are originals. While we were there, restoration was going on inside, and there were quite a few temporary hoardings, so there was a lot we were unable to see. The following photos should give you some idea of what it looks like; this all before before my camera battery ran out!!!
Some of the beautiful carvings below
You can see the temporary hoardings above and below - amazing artwork!!.
Certainly worth another visit at a later date to see this building in all its glory; the rest of the town looks equally interesting, but we had to move on...........
I managed to charge the camera for a short time in the car, but I missed many good photos while this was in process!! I thought that this would be of interest to my American readers.
The US Air Service established its largest training centre here in 1917. At the time of the Armistice in 1918, there were well over 10,000 ground personnel, student pilots and instructors. It was, at this stage, the largest air base in the world. There is a monument here to mark their part in the Great War. The air force left in 1919 and the thirteen airfields have now been returned to agricultural use.
We next passed through a village which had models of sheep in small flocks on the pavement. Due to the busy traffic, I missed the name of the village, and I also missed the first and best photo! Just as we were leaving the village, I managed to get part of a group between some parked cars....
They looked quite realistic when driving by; presumably this is a village that is involved with sheep farming! If we ever go this way again, I will try for some more information.
Finally, almost home, we saw this new sign which I mentioned in a previous post here.
P.S. Mum and babies appear to be well at this stage.
You might also like My Life Before the Charente updated 28 June 2012.
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