Vacances en France – 2018 – Chartres


After a good night’s sleep we were served breakfast in our delightful Wimereux Cottage. Breakfast comprised the usual continental selection of fresh breads, conserves, yoghurt, cheeses and ham. Especially tasty were the boiled eggs, soft, from the hens that had introduced themselves the previous evening.

Wimereaux6

Suitably refreshed, refueled and the bill settled, we reloaded the car and were soon on our way.

This next stage of our journey was to take us to Chartres. The journey was pretty much trouble-free and as I had scheduled our stops at around the three to three and a half hour mark we were soon entering Chartres. As we neared the city the grand bulk of the cathedral was silhouetted against the skyline, acting as a beacon, confirming that we were on track.

As we drove around looking for somewhere to stop, we became aware that the city centre was very busy. All along the pavements there were white kiosks. But instead of selling goods they appeared to be promoting leisure activities. There was some kind of job/leisure activities festival underway and they were promoting everything from local choirs through rock climbing and kayaking. There was even a stage where local musicians and dance schools were demonstrating their skills. All of this activity meant that there were no casual parking spaces available. We did eventually get parked up, in a permit only bay as we later found out. Luckily we were not discovered.

 

Anyhow, walking back to the centre took us right past our next accommodations. For the moment though we carried on, in search of an eatery. We were soon seated, outside in the sunshine, at an Italian restaurant. I know, we should have been eating French, but we were pushing the lunchtime kitchen clock to its limits. I think we were the last customers to get a lunchtime meal.

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Chartres – A Refreshing Beer

The food was good and we enjoyed a little people watching while sipping our beer. After lunch we went for a wander around the streets, window shopping as well as admiring the, sometimes, quirky artworks along the way.

Then it was time to go check out the lodgings. From the outside the house was very grand, although, architecturally, it did resemble the “Munsters” house.

Having introduced ourselves to our new host, Anne, we were shown to our room on the second floor. Quirky would be one way to describe it. I don’t think that there was a square corner anywhere. Our en-suite was tucked away behind a wooden, tongue and groove, partition. In here was also some hanging space for clothes. The enclosed toilet was wedged between a wall and the end of the shower.

Still we were only staying the one night.

The good news was, with parking spaces being at a premium, Anne had a parking space for us, at an address just about fifty metres along the road. This was good, since we would be leaving most of our belongings locked inside the car, not hauing them up to our room. So we retrieved our car, parked up, unloaded our overnight bags and once installed in our room, took a short rest. I tried but couldn’t quite make it into naps-ville.

Another gem, that Anne had imparted, was the fact that we had arrived during the annual Chartres Festival of Light, a Son et Lumiere. Apparently, many buildings are lit and there is a light trail one can follow for a couple of kilometers. Most importantly, Chartres Cathedral takes a starring role. The performance was due to commence at around nine, as darkness descended.

We arrived at the Cathedral early and bagged ourselves a handy granite block to sit on. The show got underway and boy was it worth it. It only ran for about fifteen to twenty minutes, but was beautiful, with a musical soundtrack as well as a short history lesson given in both French and English. Had we felt inclined we could have sat through it again.

But we moved on and found that a different light show was being projected onto the side of the cathedral. Ideal for those eating in the nearby restaurants. Having watched that for a while we moved on, in search of supper.

Supper turned out to be a savoury crepè filled with ham, cheese and a fried egg. Apparently it should also have contained potato, but the proprieter had run out of pomme de terre. Regardless, it hit the spot, washed down with a cup of tea. As we walked back to our digs we encountered a couple more illuminations although we didn’t feel we had the energy to search out all of the city’s illuminations on offer and were soon “home” at the B&B.

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Chartres – Marche aux Legumes (Vegetable Market)

Entry to the B&B is via a code locked gate and then a code locked front door. As we entered the code for the front door we were intercepted by a very vocal cat. As soon as the door opened, the cat bolted inside and trotted up the stairs to the first floor. As we ascended we found the cat, crying at the door to Anne’s quarters. We carried on to our room on the next floor and were soon stretched out in bed.

Well we soon regretted letting that bloody cat in through the door, not that we had much choice. It cried and cried. Not getting any response from Anne, the bloody thing came upstairs and yowled outside our door. And then, not getting any response from us, it threw itself at the door. That gave us quite a start. The yowling continued for a while until it took itself downstairs again. Unfortunately, I had to get up and use the toilet. As soon as I hit the flush, that bloody cat started up again. Surprisingly, all the ruckous the cat was creating did not rouse the other residents on our floor. Nor did it rouse Anne or her family.

Needless to say our night was punctuated with cries throughout the wee small hours.

 

 

Limousin, France – Day 9


Day 9 turned out to be a bit of a mixed bag. One of our happy band of travellers wanted to send an email a family member based in the US. The email had been written but, due to the fact that the gite was pretty much a dead zone for wifi and mobile technology, we decided to take a trip to MacDonalds.  Normally you couldn’t get me to within a mile of one of their establishments. Leastways not without a lot of wailing, gnashing of teeth and not an insignificant amount of kicking and screaming.It’s not that i don’t like burgers, it’s more that I don’t like the way they are served to you. Wrapped or boxed and slowly going soggy in their own steam. Best commercial burger I ever had was from Fuddruckers in Austin, Texas. fuddAnyway, I digress.

So we trundled off to our nearest McDonalds as they have free WiFi and so that we didn’t feel guilty we actually sat inside and purchased coffee. However, the coffee was as awful as I remember and so was the WiFi coverage. The laptop containing the email could not even see the McDonalds WiFi and would not connect. My Blackberry could see the “see” McDonalds WiFi but also would not connect.  My wife had her iPad with her and that could “see” and connect to McDonalds WiFi. Isn’t technology wonderful. Three devices but no way to get the data onto the device that could talk to the outside world. In the end, after nearly an hour, it was decided that when we returned to the gite, the email would be transcribed to the iPad and then we would make another foray to McDonalds.RONALD MCDONALD

So our slightly subdued band of travellers headed off for their second visit to Limoges. There are lots of things to see in Limoges. One of the things I like about France in general is that they don’t just leave blank walls on buildings. They don’t leave them to crumble or fall foul to the vandal graffiti artist.  I don’t have anything against graffiti in general, just the mindless desecration perpetrated by those who just leave their name or a pretty poor caricature of a penis. In fact I see some graffiti as a perfectly valid and useful art form. In France they turn blank walls into  huge canvasses to provide street scenes, country views or truly humorous cartoons.

Église Saint Michel Des Lions, Limoges, Limousin, France

Église Saint Michel Des Lions, Limoges, Limousin, France

Here in Limoges, with the Église Saint Michel Des Lions as a back drop, the end of  a building has been painted not only to extend the street view but also to provide one with a voyeuristic insight on what may be going on behind closed, or in this case open, shutters.

The Voyeurs View - Limoges, France

The Voyeurs View – Limoges, France

Everywhere you walk in Limoges there are reminders of the past.

Limoges, France

Limoges, France

With differing architectural styles jostling for attention.

Limoges, France

Limoges, France

It is with that in mind that we have chosen to explore one of the most famous areas of Limoges, the Quartier de la Boucherie, the Butchers Quarter. In the 14th century this district was inhabited by families belonging to the brotherhood of the butchers and many of the original half-timbered buildings remain. Although few, if any, have the same purpose as you can see in the next picture….

Hot Rocks Boutique - Limoges, France

Hot Rocks Boutique – Limoges, France

The old doorways give evidence to our ancestors diminutive height and at times the old buildings seem to resemble a jumbled stack of packing cases …

Quartier de la Boucherie - Limoges, France

Quartier de la Boucherie – Limoges, France

Every now and then as we explored we would stumble across a real gem.

CHAPELLE SAINT-AURÉLIEN

Chapelle Saint-Aurelien – Limoges, France

 

Chapelle Saint-Aurelien - Limoges, France

Chapelle Saint-Aurelien – Limoges, France

On almost every street there is something to draw your attention…

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Limoges, France

Be it old, ancient ……

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Just Chillin’, Rue du Canal – Limoges, France

….. or modern …

street_detail3

Mask – Limoges, France

Walking the lanes of  the “Quartier de la Boucherie” made us a tad peckish so we took lunch on a terrace overlooking the Central Market building.

Central Market - Limoges, France

Central Market – Limoges, France

The market, built-in the 19th century, was designed using a mix of materials, including iron, glass and ceramics. The result is this beautiful building with Eiffel-inspired architecture (or so I read somewhere). Just round the corner from here is Place Saint Michel, a pleasant square adjacent to the church.

Église Saint Michel Des Lions - Limoges, France

Église Saint Michel Des Lions – Limoges, France

Place Saint Michel as well as providing access to the church has a number of shops and cafe’s. Of immediate interest was the Belgian chocolate shop.

Place Saint Michel - Limoges, France

Place Saint Michel – Limoges, France

However, we all agreed that we could each of spent several hundreds of Euros in “Comptoir Famille”. This establishment sells some very stylish items for the home. It is a good job that our vehicle was stuffed to the gunnels on our journey into France and wasn’t getting any lighter during our stay and i was rather taken with a rustic wooden storage / display unit.

So we dragged ourselves away from the delights of Place Saint Michel and headed over to Limoges Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Limoges), an impressive gothic building started in 1273 and only finished in 1888 when the nave was connected to the bell tower.

cathedral

Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Limoges – Limoge, France

Makes you wonder why the bell tower was not built as an integral part of the main building. There is much to see inside the cathedral. The following photo shows an ornate gallery. Sadly all of the statues have been damaged, their heads are missing.

Detail inside Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Limoges - Limoges, France

Detail inside Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Limoges – Limoges, France

Detail inside Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Limoges – Limoges, France

Detail inside Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Limoges – Limoges, France

Detail inside Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Limoges - Limoges, France

Detail inside Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Limoges – Limoges, France

Detail inside Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Limoges - Limoges, France

Musée municipal de l’Evêché & Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Limoges – Limoges, France

There are some beautiful gardens in the cathedral grounds….

Cathedral Gardens - Limoges, France

Cathedral Gardens – Limoges, France

Cathedral Gardens - Limoges, France

Cathedral Gardens – Limoges, France

Limoges is also home to the Musee de la Resistance which is just a short walk from the cathedral. As with Oradour, I found walking through this museum quite moving.  The exhibits set the part played by the people of Limoges into the proper war-time context.  Great focus is always given to the capital cities such as Paris .This museum puts the records straight. And again, as with Oradour, I found myself leaving the museum with an underlying feeling of anger towards the politicians who took all of europe and most of the world to war.

By the time we left the museum it was time to look for a place to eat. Our day was completed by a really nice meal provided by Restaurant “La Maison des Saveurs”