My Week, Part III: A Full Day in Chartres
After waking up in a cozy down-feathered bed, I got up and took some pictures around the house. There are so many trinkets from their travels, and antiques they’ve collected over the years, all around the house (and this is only a holiday house), so I can only imagine what they have in their home in Geneva! Peter was also up at this point, and he showed me the terrace that overlooks the town. It’s covered in moss and so quaint…I can imagine them putting a little iron table there to eat breakfast in the mornings since it’d be the perfect spot. After a few more photos, I headed out with Peter into town to get some food for breakfast, and there happened to be the weekly market going on, that happens every Saturday. Its much smaller than Caen’s, but there was a plethora of gorgeous vegetables, fruits, cheeses and meats on display. Peter said everything is out of season at this time of year, so I bet the food would be beautiful and absolutely delicious when in season. I wondered around the open-air market a bit while Peter went to the supermarket to get food, and I didn’t take any photos of the food or vendors because I am still unfortunately a shy photographer when it comes to taking shots with people in them. I never want anyone to get mad at me for taking a shot, so I don’t even try. But I should! After some more aimless wandering, Peter came back and we headed to a boulangerie to get a baguette for breakfast. It smelled sooo good inside the bakery, and Peter showed/explained the local bread of Chartres, a rye bread that was very dark in color. I’m sure it would be delicious!
We went back to the house after that, and joined Jonell for a late breakfast. Jonell had made coffee in a Swiss press and had steamed some milk, so I had a very good café au lait. I can now say I’ve had French coffee in France, and not coffee in McDonalds :/ Along with the coffee, we had some sliced baguette and the most delicious butter I’ve ever tasted! Its made with sea salt and it gives it that extra flavor that really goes well with the bread. After the bread and coffee, Peter had squeezed some fresh oranges for juice, and that was also very, very tasty. I am not an orange juice fan back in the States, but if I had that everyday, I would drink every last drop.
Over breakfast, I talked to Jonell more about traveling and all the places we’ve been (her, obviously more than me)…recommendations for food in Italy, high tea in England, art galleries in the States, and the adventures of spontaneous road trips. Hearing about her experiences finalizes in my mind that it is possible to see everything that I want to see in the world. I just need a bit more courage, perseverance and the patience to save money, and I can do it! There is so much to see and I can’t wait to explore more!
After breakfast, Jonell and I headed into town to see the cathedral and other sites Chartres had to offer. The cathedral is the largest in France and is currently being cleaned, and one can instantly see the difference between the cleaned stone and the grimy stone! I almost don’t know which one I prefer better because sometimes I like the gritty look of ancient stone, but the cleaned stone makes the cathedral look brand new in a surreal way. We walked around the outside and inside and Jonell told me some facts about the cathedral. The cathedral has so many interesting layers to its story…the cobalt blue of the stain glass, the Madonna and Child and its duel representation in two different religions, the crypt, etc.
When I was younger, I never could understand why Catholic churches were so grand and opulent when my religion stressed the importance of being humble and shunning materialism. I thought they were beautiful structures, but I couldn’t fully appreciate them because of that mentality. I can even say I thought those thoughts somewhat at the beginning of my French travels this year. But the more churches and cathedrals I view, the more I come to understand why their are so intricate and large. The presence of God is powerful and supposed to be all-consuming, so the vastness of the architecture and the high ceilings I feel represent that sentiment. It is supposed to envelop you in its enormity and ironically does make you feel humbled…you are one small being within the huge confines of the world, and in particular, this religious structure. The intricate carvings, stain-glass and paintings also play a vital role in setting a person’s mentality when entering these churches. They tell numerous stories through stunning representations, that were painstakingly made by our predecessors…the Bible is literally ‘written’ on the walls, and the same cannot be said of modern churches. My thoughts on the reasoning of these architectural marvels might not be shared by others, but that is okay. These are my personal feelings for understanding the religion I was brought up with.
After the cathedral we headed down to see her local artist friend at her studio. It was so bright and colorful! All her pieces revolved around women, religion and literature in a modern and whimsical way. I loved looking at the layers of paint on the palettes sitting on her desk, that sat next to a huge pile of paint-splattered brushes…artist studios are so full of character!
After the studio, we looked all around Chartres at the different churches, government buildings, and houses. And we also went inside several antique shops. It was glorious looking around at fine antiques, and the price tags definitely showed how fine they were!
When we entered the shopping district, it was full of people, boutiques and delicious looking patisseries and chocolate shops. We stopped in one particular chocolate shop Jonell is fond of, for some hot chocolate. We had a variety of choices of spices to put in our chocolate, and Jonell chose ginger while I chose peppers. They serve you the hot chocolate with a thin slice of chocolate with the chosen spice mixed in it, and it is so rich and creamy! I will be severely disappointed having hot chocolate in the States again, but I guess that just means I will make my own!
After a little more walking around, we decided to head back to the house to meet Peter for dinner before the film (They wanted to see “The Artist,” and I was all for seeing it again!). All three of us headed to this little soup place nearby that was decorated with bright white walls and punches of colors in the tables, chairs and art. It was very cute and kitsch. Our meal was served in three courses, starting with the soup. The lady who owns the restaurant prepares different entrees everyday with the freshest ingredients, and today she had an interesting and unique plethora of soup options. I chose the zucchini broth with salmon and it was seriously the best soup I’ve ever had! It was light but creamy, and the flavors of the salmon went perfectly with the zucchini. Next, was the vegetable tarte or the ham quiche entrée, and I chose the quiche. It was flaky, savory, and had the perfect layers of ham, cheese and egg. And finally, the dessert was served and I chose a chocolate cake-like dessert that was warm and filled with melted chocolate. Let’s just say, I had my fair share of chocolate today!
After the delicious dinner, we headed to the movie and it was just as good seeing it for the second time. I could never get tired of the superb cinematography of that film. Peter, Jonell and I had a discussion after the film about the differences between modern and early 20th century film, and what has been lost performance wise and visually. This film has redeemed the film world I think though.
On the walk back I unfortunately skidded and almost fell because there is no traction with my newly acquired cheap oxford flats (to replace my ruined boots), and one of my shoes was torn and broken…so now I need new shoes again. Siggggggggggggghhhhhhh. I guess I need to invest in a longer lasting pair this time, but I really don’t have the money for that :/ C’est la vie…