Friday, September 09, 2011

Chartres and beyond – 28 August 2011

The '24 Hour Circuit' museum opened at 10am, so we got there at opening time, and found it interesting, and then took the 11am minivan tour of the circuit, including the famous Dunlop Bridge, grandstands, control room, pit stop and workshop area.
There was a small team of cars practising, so that gave a feel of the race excitement. The tour leaflet showed the 13.6km 24-hour circuit included public roads, so this was probably the best discovery of the tour, and we enjoyed driving the public road sections of the circuit, about 60% of the route.

Although we have visited Chartres before, it is right on the way to Pierrefonds, so we stopped again. After all, the UNESCO protected cathedral in Chartres is quite awesome. Originally building began in 1020, mostly burnt down in 1194, it then survived the 100 Year War, French Revolution and both World Wars (although all the glass in the windows was removed during both World Wars).

The windows are amazing, donated by aristocracy, royalty and priests in the early 13th century, the detail in the fine 176 stain glass windows tells Bible stories and glimpses of daily life. If that was not enough, around the Choir are Bible stories illustrated in carved stone. This is referred to as the 'Bible in stone'. If you were to study each window, it would be a very long visit indeed. We unfortunately had limited time, so only allowed an hour, plus a walk around the historic centre.

Our destination of Pierrefonds took us on a ring road around Paris. We were unsure how slow this would be late afternoon on a Sunday, with locals returning from the weekend, but it proved to be very easy, with signs saying 'Perif fluide', although the other direction was at a standstill. This was definitely a time for the stressless guidance of a GPS. It was fun to drive along a section of the Seine with the Eiffel Tower a short distance away.

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