Of flying buttresses and a shade of blue.

While James may not be comfortable in cars in Europe, or planes anywhere, the bastard can sleep on trains. He will be unconscious within 3 minutes of the train leaving the platform, whereas I am wide awake.

Like for almost the entire trip from Nice to Paris last night, and the trip from Paris to Chartres and back again. It’s unbelievable.

But Chartres. I have wanted to visit this cathedral since I learnt about flying buttresses, and Chartres blue. And with 2 days left on our rail pass, there was no way I wasn’t going to visit this place.

the sundial angel

We caught the 10:09 from Montparnasse with a coach full of yanks, and 50 min later, there we were. Though golden wheat fields (of which James now has a pathological fear), the cathedral rises high above the landscape. When its copper roof hadn’t oxidised, it must have shone like a beacon for miles.


It is truly a magnificent sight. And the windows… The blue is something to behold, it is, for want of a better phrase, Sacre Bleu. The labyrinth was chaired over (they only open it to walk on a Friday), but that didn’t stop me from plopping myself in its heart, and getting my picture taken. Can’t wait to see how it turned out.

the heart of the labyrinth

And they are currently cleaning it, so in 2 or 3 years time, it is going to look remarkable: light, airy, grand. But the ambience was quite something that I’ll not be able to articulate.

one of the three rose windows

But even funnier was the all too familiar sign on the sidewalk that greeted us as we approached the cathedral. It turns out that James is Jacques in French, and that the Chemins de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle is the Camino de Santiago. So. We were back on the trail. With much mirth, amusement, and “haven’t we already done this?!”

wait a minute...

It was a relief to be out of Paris, and while it is significantly cooler, the sun did come out for us while we took a ride on the ferris wheel. I can’t justify a carousel, but I can a ferris wheel, and it has been 24 years since I last went on one of those…

this was fun

So I can now cross Chartres of my list. I’d love to come back when the restoration is complete. And we’re halfway back to Paris, with James warily eyeing the wheatfields, and me laughing at him.

Chartres, from the ferris wheel

We’ve a few more hours of sunlight, so we’ll see what we can see when we get back.

one of the most serene churches I have visited.


  1. oh my god that window! your photos are just gorgeous. im intrigued by the pathological fear of wheatfields, however.

    1. He got very bad nettle sting in our 2nd day of walking in Spain. There were injections. All from lying in a wheatfield…

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