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. : )

Leave a Reply