God blessed me immensely last month with a trip to France.
A trip that exceeded my wildest dreams and expectations!
My best friend invited me to a destination wedding in Paris at the famous Ritz Hotel.
At first, I thought, “No way!” but then God told me he had other plans. He wanted to bless me with this trip and He made a way!
He made it abundantly clear that I would be able to go!
Not only did I get to attend the wedding in Paris, I ended up doing a tour of several places in France as well.
It was beyond the beyond!
The tour company was Gate 1 Travel and they did an excellent job of giving all of us joy!
The name of the tour: 9 Day France with Loire Valley and Normandy
I went with my good friend JoAnn.
My original intent was to share the entire trip with my readers in one blog post, but then I realized that would be foolish and too overwhelming.
I remembered the “Power of Three” and decided to give you the highlights of my trip three stops at a time.
If you are a person like me, who becomes overwhelmed by enormous amounts of information, you will thank me.
I call the stops we made JOY STOPS because that is what they gave me – JOY!
I am still processing it all!
DAY ONE: Monday 6-12-2023
JOY STOP Number 1: The town of Chartres and its famous cathedral : The Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres.
WOW, what a place to be visiting first!
This place gave me immense joy as I looked at everything in awe!
So rich in history and beauty!
The first place we visited after a night in the hotel in Paris was the charming town of Chartres (Char-Tra).
It is a glorious small town (39,000 people) with the feel of the French countryside in Northwestern France, 57 miles southwest of Paris.
A large part of this town was destroyed in WW2. What remains is very beautiful!
The massive cathedral is the main attraction, one of the most admirable and best-preserved examples of Gothic art/architecture.
It is one of France and Europe’s finest and best-preserved Gothic cathedrals.
It contains the world’s most extensive collection of medieval stained glass with more than 150 13th-century windows.
It was all miraculously preserved from the ravages of humans and time!
This cathedral was completed in 1220 in only 30 years and featured two towering spines, flying buttresses, and majestic Romanesque sculptures. It has retained 80 percent of the original stained glass!
It is thought to contain a cloth (the Sacta Carmisia) which is believed to be worn by Mary when she gave birth to Jesus.
The function of the gothic stained glass windows was to fill the interior with mystical colored light representing the Holy Spirit and illustrate stories of the Bible for the large majority of the congregation that could not read.
The North Rose Window amazingly portrays the Old Testament Prophecies all being fulfilled with the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary.
In the middle is Mary with the baby Jesus and surrounding it are 12 elliptical panels showing four doves and 8 angels.
According to mystical legend, the Druids of the town believed this cathedral to be a place where spiritual energy emanated from the earth.
Here are the best of the pictures I took while there:
JOY STOP # 2: Chateau de Chambord 6-12-2023
My mouth was hanging open the entire time viewing this magnificent chateau! I could not stop saying, “Wow”!
There are over 300 chateaux overlooking the Loire Valley. They were built for the French royals and nobles to display wealth and power.
This one is the largest and most majestic of all of them!
Located near the town of Blois, France, this chateau used as a hunting lodge was commissioned to be built by King Francis I.
He built it to be closer to the woman he loved: the Countess of Thoury, who lived nearby.
It was built in the 1500s and took 1800 laborers 12 years to complete.
It is near a large forest.
It symbolizes the French Renaissance and the power of the passionate ruler who revered the arts. It was imagined by Leonardo da Vinci.
Features: 400 rooms, 80 staircases, 800 sculpted columns, an elaborate roof, and 365 fireplaces (one for every day of the year!)
One interesting fact: During WW 2, many of the artworks from the Louver Museum in Paris were moved here for safety reasons.
Its famous double-helix staircase was supposedly designed by the king’s friend, Leonardo da Vinci, to prevent his wife from running into his mistress. He had two. In those days the wife was for childbearing and the mistress for love. hmm.
Here are the photos:
DAY TWO 6-11-2023
JOY Stop 3 – Chateau de Chenonceau(sha non so). Tuesday 6-13-23
This huge chateau spanning the river Cher is France’s 2nd most visited castle, surpassed only by the Palace of Versailles (which we visited later on the tour).
This chateau is often described as The Ladies Chateau because its women inhabitants had a large role in the design, furnishings, and beautiful gardens.
I enjoyed the fancy windows, the birds flying everywhere, and the floral arrangements.
It definitely had that women’s touch!
Feminine energy and elegance were evident throughout this majestic castle!
I enjoyed the furnishings and especially the kitchen.
The original castle was built in the 11th century then it burned to the ground and was rebuilt.
They say a picture says a thousand words, so here you go:
The best and most exciting stops are yet to come.
STAY TUNED for the next three JOY Stops (4-6) on Tuesday,August 8th.