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[Entry 30] In Chartres

28 December 201002:31PMepic-triptravel

Hey! This post is really old. You should take it with a grain of salt.

We did Chartres today. We'd planned to visit some other towns on the way - mostly Orleans, and mostly for lunch - but we didn't really get the time, and Orleans was really busy because they were building a tram or something. So we went straight on the Chartres, and straight in to the Cathedral there, which is what it's famous for. It's pretty big, and pretty impressive.

It's the Gothic architecture that gets me. It's really spindly and arched and... alright, I'll just out and say it. It looks like a robot from outer space, which is cool. And it has angels on top which are a bit scary. That sort of intricacy and interesting design doesn't show up in a lot of modern buildings. They're all a bit bland and featureless in comparison with something like this. I imagine someone finding a modern skyscraper in the future, and having the same sort of reaction as I did to the pyramids: "Yeah, so it's big. So what?". If you want people to be impressed with your construction ability, you have to really put it on show.

Spindly. And covered in stone angels, which totally freaked me out.

Actually, I drew a lot of parallels with Egypt, especially since I'm not religious. Which is to say, I got a similar sense of there being cultural and religious significance to the place without actually knowing what that significance was. Again, I can totally imagine someone discovering this place in the future and analysing the place -the stained glass windows, the carvings on the walls, all that stuff- and trying to draw some meaning out of it as we try to draw out of Egyptian places. Which then really made me realise how much of the stuff surrounding religion (and not just religion, other stuff too) is sort of detritus which has built up around an idea over time. Like, what do candles and stained glass windows have to do with the core ideas of Christianity? Nothing, but they still end up as symbolic of it and attach themselves to the core of the religion. Like a pearl or a coral reef building up over time. And so I'd imagine that a lot of the Egyptian stuff we saw is much the same- the Pyramids weren't the important part, not to the Egyptians anyway- it was the ideas which they'd come to attach themselves to.

I'm rambling, I think.

Some other observations about the cathedral though. Firstly, it was really cold. Probably not that much warmer than outside, and it was still cold enough for my breath to mist up in front of me. The building is so big it's almost another outside, so that's pretty cool. (heh. pretty cool. cause it was cold in there.) Also, possibly related to the previous paragraph, and also to the fact that it's still a functioning church, it seemed like it should have been rude to just wander around, and taking photos even more so. This combined with the fact that it was very misty and late in the afternoon so it wasn't very bright in there anyway, meant I didn't take very many photos. The mist made the outside look very tall and impressive and mysterious though, so that was a plus.

It's very difficult to fit any significant proportion of it in the frame.

Chartres itself was pretty, but not as much as some of the other towns we've been to. I imagine if you went straight there and then to Paris, you'd find it very quaint and "ye olde", but I think we've been a bit spoiled, first with Annecy and then with Semur-en-Auxois, both of which were much more genuine- looking than Chartres. Not that Chartres isn't nice. It is, and very well preserved- it's just closer to the city and thus a little more urban-seeming. The churches and Cathedral are excellent though.

Dad wanted soup, so we walked all around town trying to find soup for dinner, but all we could find was this Italian place which had Minestrone. I had a pizza, but I wasn't expecting it to be quite so... big.

Oh dear lord.

I'm tired now, and there's not much else that we did today, and we have to get up early to get to Paris in the morning because we have to give the car back at 10 and there's traffic, and Pirates of the Caribbean is on TV (in French, of course- you don't realise how much of that movie is good because of Johnny Depp's voice until it's missing), so I'll leave it there.

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