Tuesday, June 3, 2008


This past weekened, BU offered to reimburse us up to 30 Euro if we went on a day trip to somewhere in the Ile de France region, the region around Paris. Kendall (my roommate) and I decided to go to Chartres on Sunday to see the famous cathedral and attend a mass.

The train ride over was gorgeous - the countryside was so incredibly green. I didn't take any pictures, because the glare on the inside of the train windows was terrible, but all the fresh clean green countryside was good for the soul after being in Paris for 2 weeks. Miss Giles, my art history professor from high school, once said she was driving in the south of France and had to stop and get out of her car because all of a sudden, she understood van Gogh's yellow... I had a similar moment with Cezanne's greens. Magnifique.

To make up for no pictures of the countryside, I took a ton of pictures of the cathedral, which was also quite beautiful.

Unfortunately, they were doing some restoration on the facade, so that we couldn't see in all its glory.

Taking a closer look at the left (South) tower, it's unbelievably intricate - and thus hallmark gothic.

A closer look at the portals. Just like at NDdParis, these were pretty incredible. These portals I know I have studied (we spent an entire lecture on Chartres Cathedral in Art hist survey I, so at one point I knew a ton about this church... Now I just remember the important things, I guess) and once again they are much more moving in person

Entering the church, looking down the nave towards the altar:

We were not supposed to take pictures during mass, so I didn't. We were far enough away from the altar it seems unlikely anything would have turned out anyway. The mass we attended was conducted entirely in French. They also offer another earlier in the morning that is done in Latin. It was a special day that we went, because it was a first communion. Maybe I wouldn't have been so bored at the last first communion I attended so many years ago if I had had as many interesting things to look at inside the church.

Going around behind the altar and the choir, through the ambulatory, you can see all the little side chapels. There was one set of windows that just had plain, not stained, glass, and that is why there is a spot down the corridor that is so much lighter.

The rood screen (the wall to the left, with all of the sculpture in the image above) was incredibly intricate. On the side not shown in this image, there were very clear depictions of the Passion... On this side, I didn't look very closely at the iconography so I don't know what the subject is.

Now looking down the nave towards the grand portal:

A couple of selections from the immense collection of stained glass in the cathedral:

The cathedral was filled with windows, all intricately decorated with glass like this. Incredible. It is absolutely amazing to me what people not only were able to do, but what they wanted to do so many hundreds of years ago... they were starving and being attacked by barbarians and dying of plagues, and yet they build heavy stone cathedrals that seem to float on air...

Moving outside of the cathedral now, looking towards the choir. The nave of the church used simple connected buttressing, but here on the choir you can see a great example of everyone's favorite art historical term, the flying buttress:

This church took a few hundred years to finish, and you can really see how the styles were changing throughout this time, in the different buttresses as well as the more obvious non-identical bell towers on the front of the church.

To the east of the Cathedral (that is, beyond the apse) there was a grassy platform before a short stone wall that provided an outlook over the entire town in the valley below. The sight was pretty incredible:

After spending 2 weeks in a city of 2 million people, which is convenient and always exciting, it was so refreshing to escape for a few hours to the countryside - to really hear the birds sing, and see a town where people frequently stop to say bonjour and faire la bise on the street. A lot of the architecture was very cute:

Kendall and I went to a little creperie for lunch. She ordered a dessert crepe with apple and carmel all cooked together - I tried a bite and it was very good. I ordered two. The first was onion and andouille (a Spanish sausage, I think made of pork) which was delicious. The second I ordered was Grand Marnier flambée, which was called a dessert crepe and which I expected to be like the crepes suzettes I had in the cruise in Alaska - orange and sweet and they light it on fire in front of you. Instead, they gave it to me just after extinguishing the flame, and there was clearly zero sugar added - jus liquor poured onto crepes, and not nearly burnt off enough. There were some parts that were so strong as to be nearly inedible. Blech. Oh well, BU paid for it!

I should have just gone for the classic, some of this, seen in its ideal form, of course:

Why don't they sell 1 kg tubs in the US??? ps, if you didn't know, 1 kg = roughly 2.2 lbs... fabulous.

Anyway, we made our way back to Paris. I cooked that evening and ate with a few friends chez Killian, comme d'habitude. We had to finish our power point project for our Butte aux Cailles project as well.

It is tuesday night, my favorite night of the week because my host mom makes us amazing dinners, and what I have been smelling for the last 20 minutes is pretty wonderful. I'll be sure to tell you all about it soon.

A bientot!


I need orange said...

Love the windows, and your shot of the arc-buttants (sp?).... Very nice.

Really enjoying your descriptions, too!

I need orange said...

ps -- 1 kg! Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Celine Marie said...

I love Cezanne!