Geo: 48.4444, 1.48417
After a coffee in Bailly we headed off on our road trip to Chartres. Our GPS (we have nicknamed her "kitty" as we are in a Jaguar) stubbornly insists we must take the toll freeway, so she leads us on a complex route to get there. When we left the highway, the toll booth refused both our credit cards, and even the 6 euros (8.75 CDN) cash that we put in. We pushed the Help button and someone who spoke some english helped us. He would not let us through the gate without taking a ticket requiring us to pay the same amount again online, failing which the car owner will receive a fine. Allegedly we are to receive reimbursement for the cash we put in, but we doubt that will ever happen! We carried onto Chartres and parked in the underground parking.
Chartres Cathedral is one of the greatest achievements in the history of architecture, being almost perfectly preserved in its original design. It is widely considered to be the finest Gothic Cathedral in France and is included on the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites. Built between 1134 and 1260, it features ornately decorated facades and
elaborate stone carvings around the altar. We enjoyed strolling through the cathedral which is well known for its beautiful and unique stained glass windows. The outside of the cathedral was massive and almost as beautiful as the inside. The two massive spires are different - one is Plain Romanesque, the other is Flamboyant Gothic. Apparently, the second spire was destroyed by lightning, and later rebuilt.
We enjoyed a nice lunch and glass of wine at an outdoor cafe with a perfect view of the cathedral. There was a 3 euro cover charge to sit at the restaurant. We then explored the town of Chartres on foot. It has lovely cobblestoned streets and medieval homes. We stopped at Maison du Saumon with its wooden sculptures on its exterior. It is where the medieval fish markets were held. Chartres suffered badly during World War ll and many buildings were destroyed but the cathedral was saved.
The cathedral in Chartres was free to visit, and it was amazing to see. The town itself did overcharge for everything else! Nine euros (13.00 CDN) for parking three hours, three euros (4.40 CDN) to sit in a restaurant and .50 euro (.75 CDN) each use the toilet!!
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