a shade of Chartres blue

In honor of the Christmas holiday, or simply for the sake of adventure, we took the train to Chartres, 88km southwest of Paris. This medieval town boasts an incredibly impressive 13th-century cathedral, crowned by one Gothic spire and the other Romanesque. This unique architecture is due to the Romanesque cathedral being destroyed by a fire in 1194 (along with much of the town) and being rebuilt in the Gothic style over the following 30 years. Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres is France’s best-preserved medieval basilica.

Most impressive, aside from the ‘Holy Veil’, said to have been worn by the Virgin Mary when she gave birth to Jesus, are the stained glass windows. Almost all of the 172 windows dating back to the early 13th century, and several even to the 12th century, are renowned for the depth and intensity of their blue tones, famously called ‘Chartres blue’.

After hours spent lost and frozen amidst the cobbled streets, dreaming of a gourmet candlelight dinner in this most historic and romantic town, our adventure ended at a British pub feasting on burgers. Fine dining will have to wait.

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