Aug 3, 2014

Charter Day Trip: Galet de Chartreuse


The children are mostly castled and cathedraled out, but there comes a time in every Parisian's life when they must visit Chartres, whether they like it or not. And it turns out, we all do like it, far more than expected. Not because of the cathedral, mind you.


The cathedral, which dates from the 11th century (and is built upon the remains of previous iterations starting in the 6th century), is undoubtedly big and impressive. In fact, it's one of the biggest in France and is very pretty both outside and inside. While it's known for some outstanding stained glass windows, we still can't muster as much enthusiasm as we feel we should. We are jaded and have, apparently, hit European church overload.

We are unable to walk the famous maze on the floor of the church, as it is covered with chairs most of the time, except Fridays. However, the outside maze is just as fun, always accessible, and you're allowed to run and scream while navigating it.
But for our family, it's the town itself that sells us: the Medieval colombage architecture.

The round tower is an unusual spiral staircase, from Queen Berthe, still in colombage, that dates from the 16th century. She was the widow of the Count of Chartres, who later married the King Robert the Pious.

The town's streets are charming:


And the views are further improved by the canals:


So what's not to love about Chartres? It's a cute, medieval town, with markets, canals, old mills, and adorable buildings. And, oh yeah, a church.

THE CHEESE: Galet de la Chartreuse

The Galet des Chartreuse is a farmhouse raw goats' milk cheese produced only by one farmer, the Ferme du Signal. Now there's some confusion about the name, which is written when I buy it as Galet des Chartreux but, I believe, is more correctly called Galet de Chartreuse. Chartreux is famous as a breed of French cats, and I assure you this is not made from cats' milk (gross). The cheese comes from the Massif de la Chartreuse in Savoie, on the Eastern edge of France.

It's technically a soft cheese, but one that's so dried out and firm, it might as well be a  hard cheese. Despite how crumbly and flaky it looks, once in the mouth, it's creamy and butter. It's got jus enough salt, and is really quite heavenly.


The town and cathedral of Chartres may not be made from chartreux, and it may not be chartreuse in color (a greenish tint named after the liquor Chartreuse which is made by Chartreux monks by the Massif de la Chartreuse), and it may be miles away (well, 600 kilometers, to be precise) from Massif de la Chartreuse, but word-wise, they certainly seems to be all in the family.


  1. Agreed on both points: I spent a lovely eight months in Paris in sixth grade with my family, and we ultimately concluded, "You've seen one cathedral, you've seen them all." Also, Chartres is indeed a charming town.


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