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No Ambling in the Ambulatory. The Choir, Notre-Dame Cathedral, Chartres, France | by Rana Pipiens
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No Ambling in the Ambulatory. The Choir, Notre-Dame Cathedral, Chartres, France

No ambling in the Choir Ambulatory. Restoration was (still) in progress of one of the finest cathedrals of Europe. It's Notre-Dame at Chartres, about an hour by train from Paris. Hadn't been here in decades but availed myself of the opportunity now on a Splendid Sunny Day to see the sights with some friends.

'Chartres' for me has been something of an exultation and at the same time a let-down. As a student the way the medieval school of Chartres was described - 'natural philosophy' - had led me to believe that there was actual study of nature and natural things here. Reality was quite different. By 'nature' was more or less meant: the entirety of the universe; a cosmology like that of Bernard Silvestris's Cosmographia (c.1147). Not at all the study of indiviual natural things like plants and insects or human beings and the ways they react down through history. But continuing my studies, I was fascinated by the relation between abstract and concrete... the rest is my life's story.

But I have always been exulted by the vast architectural and decorative scenes and scheme of the Cathedral. Bear in mind though that it looked nowhere this way in the twelfth century; 't Was rebuilt between 1193 and 1250. Here's a bit of a grainy photo - it was in fact quite dark in the church - of the Choir Ambulatory with the famous intricately carved Choir Screen on the left. We couldn't walk further than from where this photo was taken because of the restoration-in-progress. If the entire Cathedral is cleaned from the sooted darknesses to what looks to be very bright with dazzling Blues and lighted beiges, this place will be even more magnificent.

No Choir Ambulation for us, so we did the Bigger Thing: ambling along, around the ancient wall and natural moat of the city (part of the flow of the Eure River). Parks and flowers and birds and trees and conversations aplenty. Bringing thoughts obviously of Cosmology and Field Biology.

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Taken on July 2, 2012