Monday 1 August 2016

Avignon and Chartres

As part of our French holiday we had two city breaks - one mid way at Avignon and the other as a stop over on the way home at Chartres. Both cities were amazing with so much to see, very historic.

Avignon is in the Vaucluse are of southern France, sitting on the left bank of the Rhone, a popular stop for river cruise ships. In the 1300s it became the residency of seven successive Popes; it remained a papal state until the French Revolution when it was returned to France.

The beautiful city of Avignon and my lovely Hubby 
The Palais des Papes is the dominant building but Avignon has much more to see - the nicest way to see it all is on Avignon's Petit Train (I just love these road trains). Our 40 minute tour was full of famous sights, narrow streets and fantastic views. and a great way to see the city without walking.

Avignon Petit Train
Being tourists 
'sur la Pont d'Avignon' - looking at it anyway  
Breathe in - such narrow streets but the train got through
Street entertainment on a different level
After the Petit Train we climbed the steps up to the Palais des Papes - what an impressive building which has had many additions, removals, more additions and more removals over the time of the seven Popes. There were many stairs and twisting corridors but I would not have missed seeing inside this incredible place.
Such vast rooms with amazingly high ceilings
Previous floor markings on the walls,
a sign of all the alterations
Some of the surviving statues
Intricate carvings
Great art work 
It's vastness was incredible 
The view from the Palais looking south down the Rhone to the Mediterranean 
Avignon is a great city, perfect for a weekend break. I'm sure there was more to do/see than we had time for but I'm glad we visited the Palais des Papes, especially after visiting Chateauneuf du Pape the day before. 

The other city we visited was Chartres, this was a stop over on our way home. We have traveled through Chartres many times and been amazed at it's Cathedral standing tall across the city and countryside.  

Again we took the Petit Train to see as much of the city as we could in the time we had - a great ride if bumpy as most of the streets were cobbled !!

Petit Train
It's those tourists again !
Chartres old timbered houses going out as they go up
Beautiful scenery along the river  
Such a mix of architecture
Painted houses
After our tour on the train we went into the Cathedral - it was filled with singing which surprised us.Just inside the church was being restored so we couldn't see the centre of altar to begin with. The singing and chanting continued and to our amazement when we turned into the main part of the church there was a service taking place.

Not just an ordinary Sunday service but the ordination of a priest - such a privileged to be allowed to witness this sacred service. Although a Roman Catholic service and some sung in Latin it was quite moving, especially when the priest filed past the new priest and laid their hands on his head - there must have been over 100 in the line.

Unlike most churches and Cathedrals I know here in England Chartres was still open for visitors to wander round, although we didn't take many photos so as not to disturb the service - it really was an amazing event.
Chartres Cathedral
Beautiful rose window and carved figures above
So many carvings and statues. 
We enjoyed our visits to both Avignon and Chartres, both places we'd visit again with a little more time.

Our second week of the holiday was in Provence in the lower Alps by a man made lake. I'll blog about our adventures at Les Salles de Verdon next time, I hope you've enjoyed the cultural part of our French holiday.


Maggee said...

Really beautiful places, both! Who are the statues of in the cathedrals? Former priests, royalty...? We don't have such things here, so inquiring mind! Thanks for sharing!

Clare-Aimetu said...

Thanks Maggee both places were amazing. The statues in both locations are religious people - saints, popes, bishops - but I don't know actual names.