Our plan when we arrived was to head towards Spain, so of course we drove north today to Chartres. Along the way we decided to visit Normandy and Brittany on our way to Spain, so we had to divert north to get to Normandy.
We decided to visit Chartres primarily to see its Gothic Cathedral. We visited Sens Cathedral the other day which is billed as the first Gothic Cathedral, and Chartres is supposed to be the best example of a Gothic Cathedral. Chartres still has its’ original stained glass as during both wars they removed it and stored it safely. During WWII the cathedral was in danger as the allies moved towards Paris, but an American Colonel successfully negotiated with a German General to declare Chartres open, so there was no battle fought in the city.
On our way out of Chinon we decided we wanted to visit a winery, we drove thru the countryside only to find it was closed. Disappointed again, we wrote off getting a taste of any Chinon wine, but on our way out of town Ton spotted the new tasting room for the winery we had driven out into the country to see. Pierre and Bertrand Couly had opened a new tasting room on the highway to Chartres, Chinon Red wines are what we call Cabernet Franc in the US. We spoke to the wife of the owner and she did a great job explaining the wines of the area. She was aware of Oregon wines as her husband had spent some time at Sokol Blosser winery in Oregon in the 1980’s.
The three hour drive to Chartres was uneventful as the “N” road that we used most of the way was quite good. We parked in a free overnight spot, and walked about a mile into town to see the cathedral. The cathedral was indeed impressive, and the interior stain glass windows were among the best we have seen in France. The cathedral was constructed in the early 1200’s after the previous Romanesque Cathedral had burned. The cathedral is deservedly a UNESCO world heritage site. Besides admiring the beauty of the building we also again discussed the maintenance of these immense buildings. Just keeping the exterior clean is a full time job.
After touring the cathedral we decided not to wait for the light show, so we walked back to François. Frankly we were a little peeved with one of the attendants who would not let us take the last crypt tour, and did it in a way that seemed unnecessarily officious to us while simultaneously refusing to speak English, even though we had just heard him giving an explanation of the tour in perfect English to another person. I hope he was just having a bad day. We had a light dinner and a relatively early night as we have a long drive to Normandy tomorrow.