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Onward to Chartres

Pack up time again, and with a leisurely trip of about 170kms to Chartres ahead of us, we were in no hurry to leave Amboise.

Breakfast followed by coffee and croissant at the patisserie and a last look around town, including a visit to Clos Luce, the last residence of Leonardo Di Vinci.

I previously mentioned Di Vinci’s influence over this town, and no where is it more evident than at this stately manor.

Initially we thought we’d just look around from the road, but the 10 foot high stonewall put paid to that theory, so in we went to check it out.

Leonardo’s influence doesn’t come cheap, €14 is at the high end, even for France, but when will we be back?

Once again, a decision vindicated!

We had a great time wandering around for an hour or two, going through the main villa with plenty of information on Di Vinci’s phenomenal talents, especially in the field of engineering.

Model tanks imagined five hundred years early, machine guns, draw bridges and parachutes, gliders and powered bikes.

Incredible detail, outrageous mind, crazy imagination.

Leonardo himself regretted spending so much time on drafting and not enough on painting, but with a huge brain tumbling out thoughts and ideas at the rate he did, not sure he had enough time for anything.

The villa gives way to a beautiful garden filled with lakes, streams and out buildings, including a very impressive Tudor manor set deep in the corner, and home to a restaurant, a very expensive one at that.

Great stuff!

When I first read about this place months ago I envisaged a modest villa in the streets of Amboise, not a princely manor on a few hectares behind a vast stone wall.

Well worth the visit.

Now, off to Chartres, home of the most revered Gothic Cathedral’s in France.

The drive was uneventful, flat plains given over to wheat crops mainly, interspersed with small villages, and plenty of roundabouts!

We got to Chartres mid afternoon, and after settling into our abode for the next two nights, and parking the car in the underground park we headed to the most obvious sight in town, the Cathedral.

The Catholics certainly knew how to appropriate the best land in town, with this huge colossal structure completely dominating the town from the top of the hill.

Twin spires hurtle skywards, threatening air traffic, massive walls block out the sun and the ominous eyes of hundreds of long gone religious deities stare down from their effigies housed all around.

Mighty impressive….

Can’t wait to get inside….

to see scaffolding….everywhere!

Oh, dear!

Chartres Cathedral is in the middle of a complete internal restoration, and the finished parts look amazing. The contrast between new and old is incredible, from dark gloomy corners with faint light peering through the stained glass, to a kaleidoscope of colour radiating down from the glass to the beautiful clean walls, highlighting all the intricate shapes and patterns of the past 900 years.

The Cathedral was built in the 12th century so it’s probably due for a spring clean, and for once we didn’t begrudge the limited view due to massive scaffolding.

When this work is completed this Cathedral will be spectacular, not that it isn’t now.

The Sagrada Familia has set the bar very high for us and this is almost it’s equal, the sheer volume of the place, and the magnificent stain glass which soars high up the walls is breathtakingly beautiful.

We walked around for a time before hunger kicked in and we found a quaint little restaurant opposite our B&B and settled in with a beer and salami platter.

The Cathedral is famous for its nightly light show which starts at dusk, but before that there was a performance of Mozart’s Requiem inside which we attended.

Amazing acoustics! Beautiful music.

The light show started at about 10.30 and ran for about 20 minutes on a loop till midnight…a very spectacular way to highlight the church.

We’ll be back tomorrow night to see it from a different angle.

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