Chartres, France

July 23, 2001

Just over an hour from Paris by train, this town holds an interesting relic: a cloth said to be worn by the Virgin Mary. In the towering cathedral, it's kept in the back and thought to have protected the city during an attack. For hundreds of years French queens took advantage of it to miraculously end labor pains. More recently it has been tested and found to be about 2000 years old and from somewhere in the Middle East. A funeral was just ending here when we entered, but the place is so big inside, we hardly noticed it.

A more modern addition and outside the old town is Maison Picassiette (Mosaic House). This fellow Raymond Isidore started decorating the exterior of his house with broken china and kept going for three decades. Apparently he went on to mosaic all the furniture and interior as well.

We figured we'd stop by for a look after open-house time as all the houses are near the street. It was a hot uphill walk. Unfortunately this one is set far in and behind a normal house with the driveway blocked. We could only catch a glimpse of the shimmering chimney. Before the idea came to mind that Ritsuko might have been upset by the long up hill haul she said, "Sometimes it's like that," after taking a picture of the closed gate. She held my hand and we went back to town.

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