Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Chartres - Illumine

Where do I start?  I was in love with France before I set foot in it.  When I was barely 5 and received a 2 franc coin from my Auntie.  When Madeline was read to me.  (I was totally in love with Miss Clavell.)  When my 9th grade French teacher showed us pictures of Chartres.

I FINALLY made it to this amazing place, set in the middle of, and rising up out of wheat fields, that I only saw in photos when I was 14, but that I knew I NEEDED to visit.  And which has since, been designated a UNESCO Heritage Site, for it's amazing cathedral built between the 13th and 14th centuries, which burned down and was rebuilt.  What is more amazing, that it was built in the first place, and it took over 100 years to build, or that it was rebuilt in the space of 30 and yet is still dazzlingly beautiful and awe-inspiring?

The cathedral is truly stunning.  The scale is just unimaginable and the detail and quantity, quality of it's ornamentation renders it beyond imagining, really.  I've been to Reims and Rouen and seen their cathedrals, is it because I was to young, or is it that Chartres is really that much more amazing?

I'll post more about Chartres later, in the daylight.  It's a gorgeous, gracious city under sunlight

but at night, it undergoes a magical transformation.

In the evenings, after the summer sun sets at 10:30, Chartres turns into a magic box of colorful illuminations.

On buildings up and down the town, are projected illuminations of the most charming beauty.

Part stage set, part magic lantern show, the whole city is wrapped up inside a hush of the marvelous.

A treasure box of visual surprises.

Are YOU in love yet?

How did they manage to get my favorite Art Nouveau images so precisely situated to embellish and make almost transcendental an already gorgeous Nouveau building?

And why do these projections of mystical forests give me shivers up and down?

Too bad there is scaffolding in front of the Cathedral that somewhat distorts the various projections.

And that, with the dark, reminds me that I am NOT (yet!) a professional photographer.

Notwithstanding my technical limitations,

the artistry of the projections 

is terribly seductive and engaging.

What kind of magical realm have I entered?

the marvelous world of Chartres Illuminations.  (BIG SIGH!)  I was afraid I would be disappointed, but I WAS NOT!  Truly, truly a Passage Paradis.


  1. I AM in love. How amazing and magical! I saw this sort of mysterious image in San Lois Potosi, Mexico. Gorgeous! Thank you!

  2. Fascinating MP!
    this is the very thing you never get to see unless you go there... another reason I do love "passage paradis"...you bring in the rest of the story... the other images.....hope you are going well...
    I also loved the madeleine books even though I discovered them much later I think.
    S x0

  3. Oui, Oui ! I was in love with it just from your first photo, but the light show...!!! ... oh, the light show must have been incredible to view each scene as it unfolded before your eyes. So theatrically french. I've never been there, but you've definitely succeeded in placing it on my wish list!

  4. hi ladies - don't know if you'll see this, a little late responding. glad you liked the projections. i was going a little wobbly already, maybe too many pictures. it is truly a lovely thing to do. couldn't decide when there, whether or not i was distressed that there weren't more people to enjoy it. in france too, everyone is in front of their televisions and computers instead of out enjoying simpler, more public pleasures. i'm really glad, in case you can't tell, that i got to see this. i know it will translate into something else in my life!

  5. This looks like a great place to visit! Thanks for the tip and the photos.

  6. Wow, I didn't get the chance to see it at night. I agree Chartres is certainly the best. Have you watched Kenneth Clarke's Civilisation? If not, have a look on youtube. It is interesting what he has to say about Chartres - in fact the whole series is really good.