Thursday, September 27, 2012

Les journees...

Friends from England suggested we meet outside Paris one day as they visited family and took their leisure by wandering about the French countryside.  We met in Chartres at the cathedral.

Chartres Cathedral
 A view of the famous face of Chartres...

Jude and I had never been to Chartres.  A little research by using The Force (ie: Google) revealed some interesting properties about the cathedral there and we looked forward to seeing the village and visiting with our Recently Engaged to be Married friends.  I owed him a beer, in the least, for the kind gift of a steampunk book he felt I need to read.  "Dancers at the Edge of Time" awaits my attentions.  I need to finish Antonia Fraser's "Marie Antoinette" first.

Blue Madonna
 The blue color recipe was, until recently, lost...

Jami, of Jami's Jam Fame, will be coming to see us in November.  In preparation, Jude and I visited the Gare du Nord to buy rail tickets to Italy.  After a few days kicking around Paris, we'll be taking the TGV and visiting the Cradle of the Renaissance.  The exercise of buying tickets showed us how we could best acquire les billets for Chartres.  This time we visited the Gare du Montparnasse.

Rail travel here is Right Reasonable to my way of thinking.  One way first class tickets direct to Milan can be had for much less than 75Euros each if you plan ahead.  One way tickets to Chartres were less than 18Euros each.  It's not like you're traveling small distances, either.  No longer owning une voiture and no longer paying for l'assurance and maintenance and l'essance and visits to the tire dealer has freed us up to trade those costs for nearly absolute freedom to travel about the countryside for next to nothing.

Malkesadeck ~ Chartres Alchemist
 Well carved stone...

Chartres, as you have have already visited certainly can attest to, is an incredible place.  The cathedral sits on top of an ancient dolmen.  The stained glass is world renowned, and for good reason.  The stone carvings are not to be missed.  The history that speculates the Knights Templar financed the construction of the cathedral is quite interesting to consider.  Bien entendu, our Friends from England were a joy to visit with.

After a nice lunch, we wandered over to the ticket counter to buy our way into the crypt.  We learned that guided tours (the only way you can gain access, I guess) on this day were gratuite.  Free is a very good price.  So down we went to listen to a Great Lecture in French as we wandered the east end of the crypt that is located under the nave.  I casually leaned against the old Roman Wall as our Lecturer Extraordinaire described the Carolingian wall that was situated behind him.  He shared with us some history behind the ancient Celtic/Druidic well that is found there.  I nodded sagely as he lectured, leading our friends to comment that we must know more French than we were letting on.  We had a Good Laugh.

Chartres ~ Nave under restoration
 Under restoration, but still incredibly beautiful...

Jude said the price of the crypt entry (as in free) had to do with the fact that weekend was les journees du Patrimoine.  I'm not sure what I was thinking, but I didn't really believe her until we were back at our apartment that evening.  Using The Force confirmed what my wife said earlier that day.  I knew we were late to plan any serious visits around Paris for le demache, tomorrow Sunday.  So I looked for "interesting" sites that might not have the hords of Knowledge Seekers that the major attractions usually draw.  Several years ago we regarded the huge lines of Knowledge Seekers as they waited to gain entry to Usually Closed to Public Places all over the city.

This year we would do the best we could.

What we came up with was a Two Part plan.  First, we would visit l'hopital Saint Louis and their Musée des Moulages Dermatologiques.  Second, we would make our way over the Serbian Ambassador's residence that was located literally around the corner from our Parisian Point of Entry Residence over in the 16th.

Musée des Moulages Dermatologiques
 Saint Louis helping cure the sick...

The Musee was, how shall we say?, "interesting" indeed.  The skin disease adoring public is disallowed from taking photos.  It's a shame, actually, as there were some pretty incredible skin conditions on display.  Plaster casts were carefully made of various diseases starting over 400 years ago.  These casts were then used as the basis of the medical displays.  I guess one should be strong of heart and spirit to actually say they enjoy seeing such things, but I found it amazing.

The Serbian Ambassador's residence was something else entirely.  Shortly after we first arrived, Jude and I had looked from a distance at the incredible gold guilt, rich art, and fabulous tapestries and wondered what it might be like inside, up close, and personal.  This was our opportunity and it was well taken.  Words escape me to describe the opulence of the decor and vastness of the spaces.  The view of la tour Eiffel from the courtyard was stunning.

This ranked as One Stellar Weekend!  We would need several day to recover from such a great adventurous weekend.
Hopital Saint Louis

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