5th Anniversary
Chelsea Flower Show
Paris and London
2002

Paris, Jardin des Plantes, Palais de Luxembourg, Chartes
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We started out our first day with a sightseeing tour given by our local guide. She was very informative and we really did enjoy hearing all about her city. We passed all the famous sights, the Eiffel Tower, The Arc, The Grand and Petit Palais, Place de la Concorde, the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Opera, etc etc, but we also saw some wonderful little spots like a park that was built in 1629, where the homes there are the most expensive in all of Paris, yet these same homes were originally built for the workers of a King.

 

 


We saw one of only two mansions left in Paris that was Gothic in design and lived in by Queen Margo. She was the wife of Henry 4th before he became King.

 

 


The Arch of Triumph was a massive sight and the road around it a wonder to behold! 12 avenues converge on this circle with no right of way! In an out in seconds, it was amazing!!

 

 


Then we headed off to the Palais de Luxembourg, now the home of the French Senate. The Luxembourg Palace was built for Marie de Medicis in the years 1615-1627. The architect Salomon de Brosse, designed it as a Florentine palace because Marie de Medicis liked this style. He was the son of Jean de Brosse, another architect and he inherited the position as the architect of Marie de Medicis from his uncle Jacques II Androuet Du Cerceau. (Other works by Salomon de Brosse include the aqueduct of Arcueil in 1624.) It was built to remind Marie de Medici, widow of Henry IV of her native Florence. There are many statues of the queens of France, including a figure of Saint Genevieve, the patron of Paris.

 

 


The Cathedral at Chartres was just as imposing, but in a different sort of way…Gothic cathedral Notre-Dame de Chartres The two pointed silhouettes of the New and Old steeples of the Gothic cathedral Notre-Dame de Chartres soaring above the wheat fields of Beauce have inspired a host of mystics, writers and artists. The triple royal portal and its magnificent Romanesque statues, the early rose windows in jewel-toned stained glass and the crypt are among the greatest treasures of 12th-century medieval France. In fact, the logo of the Historical French Monuments Association is taken from the labyrinth formed by the paving stones of Chartres’ nave.

 

 


A fire ravaged Chartres in the 11th century and once again in the 12th. Despite these catastrophes, it became one of the largest Gothic structures of the period. In the 16th century, the North spire was hit by lightning. It was rebuilt by Jehan de Beauce, along with the choir and the Clock Pavilion. A third and last fire destroyed the wooden roof frame in 1836. It was replaced by a metal roof whose green color enlivens the neighboring light-colored limestone façades. If you wish to take in the full beauty of the cathedral, you must stand at the southern end of the square, facing the royal portal. Don’t miss the curious sculpture of "the donkey playing its vielle" tucked into a niche at the foot of the Old Steeple.

 

 


However, when it comes to perfection, Europe's most magnificent stained-glass windows decorate the incomparable Our Lady of Chartres Cathedral. Breathtakingly beautiful, the 136 windows -- most of them originals from the 13th century -- illustrate the Bible, lives of the saints and the traditional crafts of France.

 

 


The windows are only one dazzling feature of the cathedral, hailed by some as Europe's most complete and richest medieval monument. Rodin called it "the French Acropolis," while Emile Male wrote, "There is nothing that can compare with Chartres. It is the very mind of the Middle Ages in visible form."

 

 


And thus, the cathedral is among the "cultural and natural" treasures on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Throngs of visitors have made it a constant place of pilgrimage since the Middle Ages.

 

 


The cathedral -- which occupies a prominent hill overlooking the wheat fields of the verdant Eure Valley, 56 miles southwest of Paris -- ranks as a triple masterpiece.

 

 


Seeing it sitting on the hill as we approached was an awesome sight and must have been after it was first built. The little village of half timbered houses dating back to the 15th century were so beautiful, but I had to chuckle when I saw one of them with plastic window boxes full of flowers… I also took a picture of one of the shops painted with something much more pleasing to the eye…

 

 


On our way back to the hotel, we dropped off those who wanted to see the Rodin Museum….seeing the Thinker surrounded by roses was incredible!

 

 


Back to our hotel, to have dinner and get ready for London!

 

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