So here we are in Chartres again … loved it last year, looking forward to two nights here this time. We have a lovely B&B, Maunoury Citybreak, two minutes walk from the pedestrian zone. We have a small apartment with a delightful sitting area overlooking a garden, and les enfants can share it, though they do have their own ensuite bedroom as well. AND we have parking (unlike last year, when we parked in the city underground parking)
First things first – a drink in town! Followed by dinner with friends at the same Italian restaurant we ate at last year (boring, aren’t we!) A beautiful town to stroll around in, as parking in the city is all underground, leaving wide pedestrian zones & shopping areas. As it’s not officially holiday time in France the streets are not crowded, making for a very enjoyable experience.
Breakfast on the terrace in slightly cool conditions, then the day in town. A visit to the cathedral for some , to look at this magnificent building classified as a World Heritage site , one of the most visited tourist destinations in France. Construction of the Cathedral started in 1194 , after a fire destroyed the original building which was started in 1145. The building is almost perfectly preserved in it’s original design and details. The portal sculpture remains fully intact and its glowing stained glass windows are all originals, so it is the only cathedral that conveys an almost perfect image of how it looked when it was built. It’s really worthwhile to get an audioguide to discover the history of this incredible building.. It has been a major pilgrimage destination since the early Middle Ages.
A visit to the covered market was a true foodie experience! The local farmers were selling their fruit and vegetables along with a wonderful assortment of fresh meat, poultry, breads, cheeses, as well as local specialities such as the game pies of Chartres. Whew! Necessitated a post market verre du vin at an adjacent bar!
However the main reason for our visit to Chartres was to see the Illuminations – were so impressed last year, so thought les enfants should enjoy the experience as well. We hurried to the Cathedral hoping to find space on the Petit Train, which takes visitors on a tour of the Illuminations, but half an hour before departure it was full. However our hostess had told us it was really better to follow the blue light trail on foot to really experience the spectacle, & she was right. The Illuminations have been lighting up Chartres since 2002 and draw one million visitors from around the world each year. They portray the architectural and human history of the town and the cathedral in son et lumiere (sound and light) and it’s MAGNIFICENT!!