July 2012

Time for us Traveling Socks to venture outside of Paris again, this time to amazing Chartres –
only one hour southwest of the City of Light.

When we arrived at the SNCF train station, the sky emptied its contents upon us –
as if we had stepped on some mysterious “Make It Rain” button.

We were not distressed by this turn of events, however, for two reasons.

  • When traveling, the weather is of no consequence. One has a limited amount of time to spend in a particular place, so if she sat around waiting for clear weather, she might never see anything save the inside of her apartment.
  • When in the north of France, just wait a few minutes. The weather will change, as evidenced by the lack of rain and plethora of sunshine a mere five minutes later when we stepped outside of the train station.

We headed uphill, in the direction of the grande dame of Chartres – Notre-Dame de Chartres Cathedral.
But we could not ignore the beauty that we encountered en route to the cathedral.
Summer had made its way to the charming city:
birds chirped unabashedly and flowers in bold and subtle hues alike lined the sidewalks.

Hydrangeas would not be ignored as they demanded our full attention with their rainbow of cool colors.

Then the lady appeared in all her resplendent glory.
I’ll let Stacy Lyn tell you all about the cathedral  herself.
She’s more of a church freak afficionado than we Socks are.

We stopped for lunch and a glass of French wine at this lovely tea room just across the street from the cathedral.
Who could deny the “French” feeling of this place?
The fresco depicts a Chartres of days gone by, while the sconce not only illuminates the wine menu written on the chalkboard but also warms the room with its charm.
So bright and airy with the écru walls outlined in beige trim and crown molding – and wainscoting, too –
no space left ignored!

We strolled around the town – strolling is one of our favorite things to do, of course.
We are a pair of socks, you know.
These buildings reminded us of a scene straight out of Heidi – very Swiss-like.

Simple things like this street lamp hanging from the iron hanger make Chartres so alluring.
It seems almost a fantasy world. Such care is taken with the appearance of the place –
not just for cosmetics, but for atmosphere.
The city feels alive, as though you’re walking into an old friend’s home, being welcomed like family.

What’s this? we wondered. A gate, of course, but to where does it lead? We could not resist taking a look.

Ah – a park! Not just any park – no, that’s not the way the French do things.
How about an ivy-covered arch to add a sense of welcome and quietude just behind the cathedral?

So much greenery adorns this city!
Trees as far as the eye can see – no one could complain about that, not even a pair of Traveling Socks.

How about a grassy knoll with perfectly manicured conifers on the corners of a labyrinth?

We were charmed even when we looked down, for instance,
by the stone wall that wound through and around the grassy knoll.

Do you ever wonder how many people have come to this wall to view the city or the sky or the trees?
What were their lives – were they troubled; were they in love?
Stacy Lyn always wonders things like this when she sees an ancient place.
We think she is rubbing off on us. Socks don’t usually think such thoughts.

We were not disappointed when we looked up, either.
A wooden shingled roof is the home of some lichen, while flowers
(we shall not call them weeds, for heaven’s sake) park themselves on the top of yet another wall.
Let’s not ignore the wall – look at the difference in masonry from one portion to the other;
it was probably repaired again and again during the spans of many lifetimes.

The other side of the wall is just as charming.
It doesn’t stand there to keep you out – it stands there, we believe, to invite you in.
Don’t you want to follow it?

Yet another wall – this time the wall of someone’s residence.
Yes, some lucky soul lives there in the midst of a city, yet surrounded by a sense of solitude.
Chartres enjoys a rare (and fortunate) combination of city and country;
something that cannot be found in her bigger sister cities.

The day quickly passed, as good days are wont to do, but we could not help taking one last look around the town.
What should we see, but another fantastical building?
This one proudly displayed a statue of the Madonna and child –
an endearing quality of French architecture that seems not to have an equivalent back home in America.

We took the train back to Paris, Sock-spirit renewed by the beauty and charm of the little French city of Chartres.