The Good Life France Magazine

The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...

Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

1 year ago

Issue No. 20

Inspiring, tempting and gorgeous, this issue is packed with destination features - Chartres with its gothic cathedral, the French Riviera, the Chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau, the Tarn region, Valence - gateway to the south and more. Mouth-watering recipes, plus useful guides for those dreaming of living in France...

The Cathedral of

The Cathedral of Chartres The Cathedral of course is no. 1 for any visitor to Chartres, and rightly so. No matter how many cathedrals or churches you might have been to, this one sticks out for its beautiful stained-glass windows, the extraordinary, ancient crypt, effectively an underground cathedral, and its mysterious labyrinth, the biggest and oldest in the world. It is the only medieval cathedral in the world to escape war damage - unique. The first cathedral was erected here in the 4th century, the oldest vestiges date back to the 9th century, a time when Vikings were invading England and founding Dublin, Ireland and Charlemagne was crowned emperor of Rome. In 876, French King Charles the Bald gave the town of Chartres a holy relic, said to be a piece of the veil worn by Mary when she gave birth to Jesus. The fabric survived a fire but not the French Revolution when it was cut into pieces and dispersed. A few pieces were returned and you can see them displayed in the chapel. The main building of the cathedral was built between 1194 and 1221. The crypt is one of the longest in Europe at 200m long, and has welcomed pilgrims from around the world for a thousand years. Without a doubt, whatever your beliefs, one of the most extraordinary ways to visit the crypt is at night, by candle light with a guide who will share the history and secrets of this incredible place. Seeing the frescoes on the walls, the underground chambers by flickering candle is very special. I don’t want to spoil the surprise but when the singing started, the hairs on the back of my neck rose, it was a moving experience, and even if you don’t speak French, a truly astonishing way to experience the history of this majestic cathedral. The tour, organised by the tourist office, also includes a tour of the Chartres light show. Take a walkin cathed that fli shado fresco www.c

candle lit vigil with a guide g through the underground ral and crypt holding candles cker in the slight draft, ws moving across the ancient ed walls and statues of Mary: The famous Labyrinth was built around the year 1200 on the floor of the nave. It attracts the esoteric, the curious and the religious. It is a 261.5m long pilgrimage walk and each Friday from 10am to 5pm, from Lent until All Saints Day, the chairs that normally cover it are moved off, leaving it free for pilgrims and visitors to walk. Some walk it slowly, others faster, some cross themselves as they go, achieving a look of beatification as they reach the centre. An astounding 1.3 million pilgrims make their way to Chartres each year. The stained-glass windows are sparklingly exceptional – 172 of them in total covering an incredible 2,600sqm. Some of them date back to the 12th century and you can’t help but love the colours, especially “Chartres blue” as it's known, a special blue used on the oldest windows. For the people of that day, this richness of colour and art must have been one of the wonders of the world – it still is. There’s even a tea named after it “the Blue Tea of Chartres”, a blend of black and green tea, citrus fruits and berries in a specially designed tea caddy – the perfect souvenir! Find it at La Brulerie Chartraine, tea and coffee Shop: 5 rue Noël Ballay. And while you’re there, nip into the Librairie L’Esperluette bookshop at no 10, where to your surprise you’ll find the wall of a Renaissance house hidden away at the back of the shop, books piled around the centuries old windows and door...