We were there 20 years ago, but I didn’t have the digital Canon then. We figured it was time to go back for another day trip. The RATP leaves out of the Montparnasse station, about five blocks from where we were staying, and it’s an impressive facility. Finding tickets on short order was a challenge. Forget about the ticket counters. It’s take a number and wait. Go to a ticket machine and punch in English. Have our credit card ready. The machines don’t take cash.
I wanted round trip, and that is offered. Except the machine wanted the return time, and I wanted an open stay, since trains do not require a reservation. So my recourse was to punch in for two passengers one way and select the train I wanted. The train goes to Le Mans, so you have to punch the “other destinations” button and select Chartres. Out came the two tickets. Twelve euros each.
Yes, they put up the track number about five minutes before boarding, and there was a crowd standing gazing at the monitor, waiting for the number to come up. Then it was a rush to track 19 to get on board, pausing to punch our tickets at the stand by the platform. And we were off, right on schedule. The trip is about 60 miles and takes a bit more than an hour, due to several stops.
No need to get a cab once you get there. Everything’s close to the station. You don’t need a map, either. There’s the cathedral right there. Walk on over.
Some outside views. The cathedral was constructed from 1194 to 1220, and if you are like me you are wondering why the French saw fit to set up the tallest building in the world out here in the middle of nowhere.
Some inside views.
I photographed this 20 years ago using a film camera.
Lots of art everywhere
Not being a religious person, I am at a loss to explain this ritual. Feel free to comment.
Back outside, go around to the south side and take the steps down to the lower village. Be prepared to go back in time.
Three streams converge, and the village has long ago incorporated them into daily life. How cool do think it might be to have a boat parked at your front step?
Architectural themes left over from centuries ago
This town was built way before anybody thought of inventing automobiles. It takes some maneuvering to get around the old town.
This is what I found to be so neat. There is this (apparent) control station.
I saw a police car drive up and stop. The “bollard” retracted into the ground. The police car drove through, and the bollard rose again to block traffic. I would like to have one of these in my driveway.
Lunch was late and consisted of sharing a ham and cheese sandwich and a liter bottle of carbonated water.
You will have no doubt you are actually in Chartres. To get back to Paris cost more, since we were traveling in a prime time zone. Sixteen euros each.
The place made history in modern times, if you consider 73 years ago to be modern. It was a major objective during the Allied advance in the liberation of France. From the book by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, Is Paris Burning?, about the liberation of Paris:
Caillette hung up and, weeping with emotion, stumbled back into the Salle des Fetes. “Les gars,” he rasped in a voice raw and hoarse from strain, “the Americans are in Chartres!” The exhausted and beaten men looked at each other, then back at Caillette. He was standing at attention, tears rolling down his face, singing the “Marseillaise.”
It’s worth noting how close to obliteration came such historical sites as this.