I do believe in the miracles of Chartres. So when Guest went from feeling miserable on Friday morning to feeling fairly well after a Labyrinth walk… no surprise to me. And glad all around. How sad to come all the way to Paris and get sick. She stayed in bed all Wednesday and Thursday which took great discipline but paid off. And I took it easy on Thursday also – only venturing out for a baguette and train tickets.
But something is happening at Chartres and I am not sure I like it. For those that don’t know, I have been traveling to Chartres since 2007 quite regularly to walk the labyrinth. I will do a separate post about Labyrinths to move this one along. Last time I did notice that they have been cleaning up the interior significantly. I just thought it was much brighter and wasn’t sure if I liked this cleaned up version even if that’s what it looked like when they first built it. Did you know that most medieval churches were painted inside? And the statutes too – even to having blue or brown eyes? This visit I read more about he restoration. It’s apparently a controversial issue. They are not just “cleaning it up” like I thought – no, they are actually painting it. And making some columns look like faux marble. I kept thinking something was off as I looked down the choir and saw these marble columns. Then I came across this section – I guess they are starting to paint here. Some experts say this is the right thing to do, that it was painted in the 1190s and whitewashed again in 1290… others feel it a desecration. And apparently they are also doing something that is supposed to be protective of the stained glass. This is some of the most beautiful stained glass in the world. So some say that the protective layer – which I don’t think is actually applied to the glass but layered on it (I don’t know the details) – that the layer now diffuses the light so that the beautiful crisp reflections on the walls and floor of the cathedral are now gone. I did not notice that. But overall, I don’t like it. The whiteness of the walls does detract from the stained glass and it has lost that je ne sais quoi feeling of antiquity.
And don’t start me on the Black Madonna which they have made white. This Madonna is from the 1500s. It was beautiful. Now it is “restored” and looks… well, I like the comment an art critic made – “like a kewpie doll.”
While Guest took an afternoon rest, I walked the Labyrinth a second time and then headed off for St Pierre. This is an old church – was a monastery I believe – that has been locked every time I have visited Chartres. Finally I had success. Open and with the added benefit of a lady playing the organ. A concert in a lovely church. The stained glass is from the 13th century but certainly not as beautiful as that at Notre Dame de Chartres.
Notre Dame – yes, Chartres is an Our Lady cathedral. And like so many of them she is built on the site of a sacred well. One of those things the Catholics did well – take a pagan rite and adopt it as a catholic one – Solstice – Christmas….. Sacred well .. church site. I think they are doing it again with the Labyrinth but more on that in the labyrinth post.
After a lovely dinner, we took the Chartres tram/Train for a ride around the city to see the lights. I have heard of the “light” shows for years. Even went to a simple one at Warwick castle in the 70s. But, my have they advanced! See the next blog for photos.
Then a nice sleep in the Hotel Jehan de Beauce by the train station so we could catch the train mid morning easily. Of course, I didn’t “catch” my glasses. While packing, I tossed my glasses on the bed – but they bounced off to the other side. And of course, I forgot them and so today, while Guest spends the day in the D’Orsay, I went down to Chartres and back for the “lunettes.
This morning, as Guest and I walked to the D’Orsay, we came upon the Color Run sponsored by Sephora. Runners who run… and get sprayed with color. We saw the yellow spray and the blue spray locations. And for my running friends, here’s what some runners looked liked on the Metro home.