Sunday, 10 October 2010

Mixed greens

Hmm, sitting here eating a mixed green salad and some goat cheese I now regret buying. It's not like feta, it's a rather strong flavoured camembert-like cheese. I shan't buy it again. Nice mixed greens and a carrot salad and cute little round slices of bacon with no rind-that's convenient for salads. I was so hungry - lunch was not a going concern but more on that later.

The sun was watery this morning, the air fresh when I set out for the Gare to catch a train to Chartres. It proved to be expensive. The train rolled along and stopped at some nice little villages, in between I could see even cuter hamlets but what really made an impression on me was the greeness. Everywhere trees, trees and forests, trees and houses, trees and horticulture. Dense little copses with streams running through their dark centres like ribbons of clear midnight. Gorgeous!

Leaving Cafeolait behind me I was thrilled by the picture-postcard villages with their steepled churches taking the high ground. This was all new for me. I've never been in this part of  France and I hope to see lots more when I have a car.

I especially like french forests because they are so biodiverse, not like the boring kms of plantation radiata pine in NZ. All shades of green and gold, all sizes and shapes cohabiting so well together and composing such a splendid panorama for me to admire. Love it!

My first view of the famed cathedral of Chartres was splendid but really, to be inside it is magical. Notre Dame de Paris is celebrated but Notre Dame de Chartres has a spiritual magic and is so exquisitely beautiful with its stone carvings, they are almost like filigree. The talent and skill demonstrated by ancient artisans is so humbling and sadly well and truly gone.

I took A LOT of photos. It's breathtaking inside and out and has an angle for every camera. They have started to clean it up. It needs it. You can scarcely make out the beautiful designs under centuries of grime. The difference between restored and original conditions is dramatic as you can tell by the photos. Some facts:
4th C Gallo-roman wall- first cathedral dates from this
6th C Meringovengian cathedral, some of which remains under the choir
8th C Cathedral destroyed by a duke of Aquitaine in 743, another is built on the same spot
9th C Carolygian crypt
11th C Romanesque crypt (longest in France)
1194 Fire, some bits saved, other bits rebuilt
1230 Everything in place but not dedicated until 1260
16th C some additions

This cathedral is famous for its medieval religious artworks and stained glass across the centuries. It was also used to house relics such as Mary's veil. It contains many areas for prayer, multiple altars, everything exquisite.

End of lovely visit. I was so carried away with photographing the building I needed the grumbles in my tummy to tell me I'd missed lunchtime. I went in search of sustenance. Alas, everywhere was very busy even though the shops were all shut. I walked and found a spot, sat down only to discover they were only offering coffee and macaroons. I went next door buy they had no spare tables. Walking further on I decided to double back towards the cathedral and see what was available in the sunshine. I sat down at a likely cafe. The waitress ignored me and went about her business. I waited more than she did. Pissed off I went next door-everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, good menu- I wanted a Quiche Lorraine.

I sat in a prominent spot right in the middle with my camera - impossible to miss. yes, but not impossible to ignore. Eventually the waiter came over and, desperate for food I blurted out Quiche Lorraine. He blabbered something in stroppy french over my head to someone else and then said he'd come back. He never did. I waited ages with not even a glass of water. He knew I was there, walked past me and started taking orders from a large group that had just arrived. I looked at some french folks next to me. The woman tried to get the waiter to pay attention to 'la dame'. Annoyed, the waiter came over and snapped I would have to wait 20 mins to be fed. I said he had not told me that before. The french lady looked very uncomfortably at me. I got up and left, hungry, thirsty. Pissed off with wasting 1 and half hours trying to be refuelled I headed to the train station. Nothing available on the way except meat on a stick and a coke. Money's tight so I try not to spend it on stuff I don't enjoy.

All the self-serve machines at the station were inoperable but I found a tiny kiosk that sold rubbish food like crisps and soft drink. It's not what I needed but after all my walking I needed something during my 1 hour wait for the train back to Cafeolait. I splashed out on two french magazines, one scientific one on how language evolved and the other covering the Louvre. I'm so desperate for something to read I'll read it in french- good for me, I hear you say- yes but it's work, not relaxation. Oh well, they look good on my wee table in my studio but I've got to stop spending, even in a modest way. Next Sunday I'm going to Paris and may catch up with Frederique whom I stayed with briefly in June. I'd like to visit Montmartre. We'll see.
Photos of Chartres Cathedral- note the difference between the grime and clean areas, plus nasty rude waiter in action


Alison said...

Isn't that just awful - so bloody rude! Once in a department store - Printemps - I was wanting some shoes, and the girl serving me just stopped suddenly and went and joined the other shop assistants who were talking in a huddle. She said nothing - just walked off and left me! I didn't shop there for all the rest of the time I was in France, although I doubt that they would have noticed! Lol. I love Goats' Cheese, incidentally. And I continue to be impressed with the way you are dealing with stuff so well on your own.

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