France: Day 5, Chartres

I’ve been stepping out of my comfort zone. Having far too comfortable a life at home meant I grew complacent. I had no wants, which meant I didn’t find the same pleasure in the simple things as I used to. Here, I live without a cat, without a ukulele, without a regular chance to shower, without locks on the bathroom doors, without speaking the language.

I needed to be reminded of how other people live, and experience things I never felt compelled to do in Ottawa. It hasn’t been easy. I memorize French phrases, and hope no one responds out of a predicted path. Even then, I fall back on an English-French dictionary, and Pouvez-vous parlez plus lentment, s’il vous plaît, just in case. It’s something I’ve been forcing myself to do, and at the end of the day I’m never disappointed.

Daty croque monsieur

Various styles of croque-monsieur, a grilled ham sandwich with cheese melted on top of buttered pain de mie, a packaged French bread that’s perfect for toasting. Every bakery and family has their own version of this.

In the back is shredded guyère (a medium-bodied cheese), being sliced is mont d’or (very creamy and salty, and stuck to my teeth), and already halved is Camembert (which was super rich with a smell reminiscent of a garbage, but certainly didn’t taste like it…still, I had a hard time getting over the smell).

Rue Collin D'Harleville

Rue Collin D’Harleville.

feet in cones


building with horse garage

You can tell how old this house is by the archway garage on the right, not meant for cars, but horses.

autumn road

Trees are very well-kept, their leaves trimmed into cubes, forming pleasantly straight lines.

back roads

I literally walked off both my maps and got lost. These back roads made it more confusing, because a lot of them look the same.

baguette with lardon

A baguette with lardon baked into it, which is a strip of pork fat, similar to bacon but thicker. I’m pretty sure lardon is French for OMGMOUTHFEELSGOOD.

bakery seating

The cafés here frequently have patios, even when it’s a high of 8°C. They almost always face out, so you can do some people watching, unlike the ones in North America where you’re seated around a round table, more suitable for talking.

boys fighting





Fééric and Misun have two chickens in the back yard. Each one makes an egg a day, and one is characteristically more narrow or more wide. They’re trying to figure out which chicken produces which.

egg on toast with Viandox

Egg on toasted pain de campagne (a round, slightly sour bread), seasoned with Viandox (an umami flavoured liquid based on meat extract).

essentials sign

A very handy sign, marking the direction of various essentials (including barbers and flower shops).

garage path

On one side of the street was this open garage door, and when I passed by, it turned out that there was nothing in the garage. Only a path that lead somewhere even more beautiful and mysterious.

hanging meats


mail slot


Marceau statue

François Séverin Marceau-Desgraviers was a general of Napoleon during the French Revolutionary Wars. He joined the army at 16, got promoted to brigadier-general at 24, and died at 27. The people of Chartres like to honour him because he was born here, the statue being one of the few in the town centre.


This monument is also dedicated to Marceau, located in it’s own square downtown.

narrow roads

No cars allowed…or thin enough.



place des epars

This area is in the heart of downtown, and branches off in several directions. It can be pretty confusing, because the roads all look pretty similar, and don’t follow a grid system.

Rue du General George Patton

Apparently, Patton liberated Chartres in 1944, but I can’t find any more information about it. This road is only two blocks long, then turns into another street.



spiral bush


square trees



Pay toilets. Probably why it’s advertised with such a big sign.

waiting in line

People waiting in line, baguettes in hand, for cheese from Ste. Suzanne Farm.

wines in grocery stores

No license needed.

Europe 2010 travel diaries


  1. Your last few blog posts give a real positive vibe :) I like the way you photographed such normaly or daily sights. I just moved to Germany (Cologne) from Holland so I kind of now what it’s like to be out of your comfort zone and I must say it can be very frustrating at some times, but most of the time it is a pretty good feeling. What do you think? It’s nice to live your life in another way for a few weeks isn’t it? :)

    Looking foward to your next series of photo’s.

    • Thanks! I’ve always liked to capture locals in their everyday business; the touristy sites are so cliché and have been done to death. Not to mention the fact that when taking a picture of a landmark, you can’t help but have a ton of other tourists with their cameras out taking pictures too.

      Stepping out of my comfort zone is a gradual process. I have to take it one day at a time, and I only reach out more when I feel comfortable. It can leave me with a great feeling of accomplishment. :)

  2. cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze…… ::sigh::

    That’s what I miss most.

    I think you need to make a collage of shoe shots. : )

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