Notre Dame Cathedral of Chartres!!!

And the grand daddy of cathedrals in the sense of the loire valley and history of France; this is my return visit to the Notre Dame Cathedral of Chartres or Cathédrale Notre Dame de Chartres! I have written on it before but these are new pictures and text of my latest visit to it; hope you enjoy it as I.

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I was here way back coming from my former home in Versailles and then a few more trips even with the Friends of the Palace of Versailles to visit its treasures of the basement. Then, moved to Bretagne and the visits stop. After several years, decided to take a nostalgic trip with my boys, Dad, and dog Rex to it.  Text is limited to new information gathered as the history is already in the other post. There is so much to see in my belle France, sometime you need to skip some to see others.

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The city of Chartres is in dept 28 of Eure et Loir in the Centre Val de Loire region. It is about 125 km from my current town.  Who would have thought in 876,this monument to mankind will have so much an impact on the history of France and Europe at least. It was King Charles the Bald, Charlemagne’s grandson who donated the holy relic known as the “Veil of the Virgin” or “Holy Tunic” to the cathedral. This event makes Chartres a leading sanctuary.

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From the ground ,whose dark slabs will make you guess the course of the labyrinth, to the ceiling ;passing secretly through the Roman crypt in the basement , and the towers , the Chartres Cathedral bends over backwards to give you baba! Take the time to admire the colors of the 2,500 m² of stained-glass windows and the famous blue of Chartres.  Did you know that in Chartres too, they have a “Mona Lisa”? It goes without saying that this is not the one on display at the Louvre, but Notre Dame de la Belle Verrière which is one of the most famous stained glass windows in the world!

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My best spots for seeing the Cathedral at its best are:
From the Pont Bouju bridge and the rue de la porte Guillaume, to capture the medieval atmosphere of the old town.  From the rue des Changes, despite the animation all around in the shopping streets, see the Cathedral rise as you go. as we get closer remains a striking sight! From the retreat of the forecourt , this is classic that we never tire of! From rue Saint-Eman, take the stairs for a romantic view of the bell towers and From rue de la Foulerie, a more discreet view of the Cathedral but with the picturesque side of the old town and its washhouses. All sublime!

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Some briefs to add to the historical post of the Notre Dame Cathedral of Chartres!

The Notre Dame Cathedral of Chartres is served, which is not frequent, by three portals leading to the north, south and west. The oldest is the west portal, also called the royal portal taken from the old cathedral. It was spared from the flames in 1194. Inside , at the highest point, the vaults reach 37 meters in height, which will represent for a few years a record height.  The bell towers of Notre Dame Cathedral of Chartres are one of the specific features of it. They are 114 meters high for the north bell tower and 103 meters for the south bell tower, these two majestic towers frame the western portal.

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The Notre Dame Cathedral of Chartres has 172 stained glass windows that cover an area of ​​over 2600 m2. Gothic, most of them were made from 1205 to 1240. Some even date from the 12C, a rare heritage from the past which has survived the vagaries of time and fashions. Thus, in the 18C, the canons replaced certain bays in the choir with white windows in order to let more light pass. In the 20C, in order to preserve them from world wars, they were completely dismantled and stored before returning to their original place. Despite certain modifications, this set appears to be one of the most complete of the medieval period. They represent biblical scenes, faithful to the idea that the cathedral is a Bible of images, but also the donors who made it possible.

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The labyrinth in Notre Dame Cathedral of Chartres is the only circular one to have been preserved in a cathedral. its diameter is nearly 12 meters. Eleven concentric bands will lead the pilgrim on his knees six times to the center of the labyrinth, then away from him before he reaches the central slab. Initially, this slab was a bronze plaque on which was represented Theseus and the Minotaur, it would have disappeared during the requisitions of metal in 1793. The outer edge of the labyrinth is decorated with 113 battlements, which give it the air of a toothed wheel. This labyrinth, whose diameter is equivalent to one tenth of the interior length of the cathedral, takes place at a particular place in the cathedral. Located between the third and fourth bay of the nave, its entrance corresponds to the entrance to Fulbert Cathedral. In addition, the rose on the western facade is perfectly superimposed on its center. the usefulness of labyrinths in cathedrals is intriguing. However the names which have been attributed to that of Chartres allow some interpretations. Known as the “way to Jerusalem” or as the “league”, the labyrinth would have been used as a substitute for pilgrimage, so long to cover on one’s knees that it gave the impression of extending over a league.

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The sculpture takes a major dimension in Notre Dame Cathedralof Chartres since the whole of the statuary counts nearly 6000 statues Thus the sculptures of the western portal, the Royal Portal, date from the years 1145-1150 and are located just at the hinge between the Romanesque and the Gothic . The south and north portals are fully Gothic since they were made between 1205 and 1215 for one, and 1210 and 1225 for the other by a group of sculptors, mostly anonymous.

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The Notre Dame Cathedral of Chartres appears as an alternative to Reims under royalty; it solves the problem of the coronation of Henri IV. He is therefore enthroned king of France on February 27, 1594 in the Notre-Dame Cathedral of Chartres. This coronation allows Henry IV to establish his authority in the kingdom of France and to work for the protection of the Protestant minority by ratifying the Edict of Nantes on April 30, 1598.

The Notre-Dame Cathedral of Chartres was vandalized in 1793 (during the French revolution). The damage was material: all the metal in the cathedral, including the bells, was melted down to be used for arming the army. They are also artistic: the black Madonna of the crypt, Notre-Dame-de-sous-Terre, is burnt. Other cathedral treasures suffer a similar fate. The cedar wood shrine plated with gold and covered with precious stones which contained the relic is forced. The rich ornament disappears as the relic itself is shared among the Revolutionary Commissioners. However, part of it was returned to the cathedral during the Restoration.

On June 4, 1836, an accidental fire broke out in the Notre Dame Cathedral of Chartres, and destroyed the entire wooden and lead roof. The frame, so complex that it was nicknamed “the forest”, is replaced by iron and the lead cover by copper plates. These, in contact with the air, will oxidize to give the roof this characteristic green color.  Despite the vagaries of history, Notre Dame Cathedral remains one of the best-preserved Gothic cathedrals. It also obtains to be the first monument classified as World Heritage by Unesco in 1979!

The Notre Dame Cathedral of Chartres and the arts, my favorites!

Charles Péguy, The Tapestry of Notre Dame, Paris, Cahiers de la Quinzaine, coll. “Cahiers de la Quinzaine / 14th series” (no 10), 1913, 103 p. And Charles Péguy in his collection “the Tapestry of Notre-Dame” writes the long poem Presentation of Beauce to Notre-Dame de Chartres.  One of the best-known paintings is La Cathédrale de Chartres by Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, painted in 1830 (now in Louvre museum, Paris).

Some webpages to help you plan your trip and is a must are:

The official Notre Dame de Chartres webpage:

The city of Chartres on the cathedral

The Chartres tourist office on the cathedral:

And if I have not convince you to come here at least once in your lifetime, maybe the Chartres tourist office will:why see Chartres’cathedral?:

The Notre Dame Cathedral alone is worth the visit to Chartres, but there is more if you read my other posts. Enjoy the reading of a nice town and beautiful cathedral of France and Europe.

 And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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