It was an easy one hour train ride from the Montparnasse Train Station in Paris to Chartres and a nice change of pace to see the countryside after spending a few days in the city. The 16 euro fare took us past cute French villages and through farm land.
From the Chartre train station, it’s a short walk to the stunning cathedral that absolutely dominates the surrounding area. It was a beautiful sight, and luckily we had sunny weather for our arrival. The cathedral was built between 1194 and 1260, relatively quickly for a Gothic cathedral and the reason for its harmonious design.
We took our time walking the interior with an audio guide, and my sister’s running commentary bolstered by many years of art history helped my understanding of the stained glass windows. There is nothing random about the stories the windows tell.
There are three rose windows, depicting different bible stories and times of Jesus’ life, and most of the stained glass is original.
The virgin shown holding the baby Jesus is the oldest stained glass at Chartre. This depiction of Mary dates from the previous church on the site that burned in 1194. The four panels were incorporated into the windows of the 13th century church.
As we exited the cathedral we were hit with a cold rain driven by strong winds. Retreating to a cafe we enjoyed a local lunch, and then headed back to Paris. On the train northbound we saw the facade of The Chateau de Versailles off to the west.
Back in Paris by 3 pm, we hopped the metro to Galeries Lafayette, one of the city’s biggest department stores. The building was beautiful with an Art Nouveau stained-glass dome, but the prices were so high we walked and looked, but didn’t buy.