Chinon (France 2015)

Chinon River Mist1Chinon is a wonderful town. Medieval houses wedged in between more Renaissance ones. Little alleyways. Foot traffic only in the town center. Perfect place from which to venture forth and explore the Loire Valley.

Chinon StairwayChinon Old House2 Chinon Houses

Chinon Poppies

 

 

 

We  landed in a great hotel, The Agnes Sorell, right on the river Vienne. Nice room and a little patio right outside where we could sit in the sun. And as I said in my last post, the owners are kind and helpful. Chinon Patio at B&B

We came to Chinon because of my reading about the castle. I was interested in the English King John of Magna Carta fame who locked up his French bride here, but Jeanne d’Arc met her French King here also.  As is usual with castles and cathedrals, it was built up over time; the oldest section is separated from the newer by a ravine. Lots of wind and great views over the town and river.

Chinon Fortress Walkway
Chinon from the Fortress
We finally had sun and spent the morning exploring, then went to lunch in a Troglodyte cave where mushrooms are grown and on to another castle – more on that next time.
Chinon River Bridge

Chartres Cathedral Tour (Spring 2015)

On the road to ChartresUp at 6:30. Paris is not busy on an early work day (I was expecting the packed chaos of Rome). Today we rented a car and had to stop a passerby to ask how to start the thing – Toyoto Auris (hybrid). Not bad traffic getting out of town, then we had bright yellow fields (mustard Mother said long ago; I think hops). Long flat views.
Chartres in the mist
Chartres in the distance. Later, in our tour, the guide says some pilgrims still walk there; they say they can see the spire several days before they arrive.

chartres flowersParking is good, and it has a free, clean toilette! This after my hubby paid .50 in a shop for a stinking mess that almost made him up-chuck. As antidote to that sentence, here are some flowers that were in the parking lot.
Chartres Front
They are cleaning the cathedral – first time in 300 years. chartres dragonOutside, the statues are almost white with traces of color. Take a look at this little aqua dragon. Hard to imagine it all painted, though. Like this statue, one of dozens that caught my eye. That’s probably not a parrot on his shoulder…
chartres pirate

We walk around the outside. You never see photos of the back, but it’s lovely. With wisteria, even.
chartres wisteria

Malcolm Miller gave the tour. He has been giving tours here since 1958, is 81 and a walking encyclopedia of facts and synthesis about the cathedral. I took one years ago when he stacked us up in demonstration of how the flying buttresses worked; we held his weight with no problem.

This one was equally memorable. We wore headsets, which was good since they are working inside. Chartres Malcolm MillerLong lecture about history. The windows are the oldest in all of Europe and are didactive, that is they are meant to teach. He then “read” a couple of the oldest. He also told us about some tourists from Dallas who had lectured him about the Bible and creationism. I never realized there were words incorporated into the glass.
Chartres Stained Glass

On to Chinon, long drive. Some forests and it gets hilly. Trouble finding the hotel but the owner (new since Jan) is charming. We speak some French – she “doucement” – slowly, carefully. I’m going to get to practice after all that studying.