Thursday, August 13, 2015

Chartres with Malcolm Miller, Centre International du Vitrail, mini DIY Stains

Yesterday I took the 1-hour train ride to  CHARTRES CATHEDRAL from Gare Montparnasse.
I haven't visited since my first trip to Europe at 18
After visiting SAINTE CHAPELLE I'm obsessed with the glazed colors in stained glass windows.
Chartres has some of the finest stained glass and flying buttresses galore but one needs help with this huge, massive and magnificent cathedral.
I was very lucky indeed to catch brilliant, Chartres scholar, MALCOLM MILLER at his mid-day tour (1hr15 minutes - 10€ cash please). Show up INSIDE the church near the bookstore. At 11:55 I promise you'll be lead in the best possible way through a multitude of biblical stories and historic vignettes with great wit and knowledge.
Miller 'reads' Chartres for you. There was no paper or books and few read or could write when the church was rebuilt after the 1194 fire. The stained glass panels are full of drama and Miller is a masterful storyteller.FYI the panels are read bottom up and from left to right.
I couldn't resist drawing his lively, animated profile. Miller's been leading Chartres tours for 58 years and says he still learns something new every visit.
Do try to catch him. It will be an unforgettable experience. Or get his book!
I'm thinking of returning next week. FYI you can't reserve ahead unless you want a private tour. Just show up at 11:55. C'est comme ça.
I grabbed a quick salad across the street at Le Café Serpent 2, Cloître Notre-Dame
Service is fast and friendly. Besides I fell in love with their big teapot collection as soon as I saw it in the window.
I wish I hadn't wandered aimlessly around town in the morning, comme d'habitude seeking out the local ice cream..
But instead I should have headed over to the
CENTRE INTERNATIONAL DU VITRAIL, just behind the cathedral 5, rue du Cardinal Pie
A stunning collection of Renaissance stained glass awaits
Full explanations in clear English of how stained glass was processed, colored, baked.
Plus a room of all 176 facsimile panels from Chartres
Are illustrated and labeled.
You'll relive Malcolm Miller's vivid stories over again.
Especially interesting was a reconstructed portion of a Chartres panel. So much more is revealed up close you can't see inside the church.
As soon as I got home, I got out my paints. There's more yellow at Chartres then Sainte Chapelle perhaps.
Thank you for subscribing to the Paris Sketch letters and maps. Its fun painting your glazed watercolors. I've turned into quite the pilgrim seeking more stained glass.
Tomorrow I'm off the the cathedral at Reims
Let me know if you have any tips PBers.


La Table De Nana said...

You are really taking in the stained glass beauty..
Loe the sketch too..and now I want a salad..
I thought you would be fact I saw a map and could swear it was your art!

Jeanette, Mistress of Longears said...

My favorite caterer has taught me a new phrase - instead of "to die for", he says "to live for"! This tour is definitely to live for!

robinita said...

Lovely! Thanks for sharing. This is definitely on my list.

Parisbreakfasts said...

Yes a tour with malcolm miller belongs on everyone's bucket list!!

Parisbreakfasts said...

I have visited paris plage monique but a beach without water you can jump into ain't no beach IMHO.

K and S said...

we visited Chartres a couple of years back, too bad we were with a tour group, it looked like a great town to explore!

joanherlinger said...

Hi Carol,
I have been listening to the Audio book of "Paris to the Past", available on itunes. I think you'd really enjoy it and it talks a lot about stained glass windows.

Parisbreakfasts said...

Was it you who recommended it to me? It's on my Kindle.
I'll get cracking.
Thanks Joan!

Joan C said...

Beautiful! Thank you.

Parisbreakfasts said...

You have so much more freedom when you're on your own.
With many tours a lot of the time is spent on the bus :(
I took a Vision tour first time to Chateau Vaux le Vicomte:
1 hour on the bus going there.
Only 1 hour actually spent at the Chateau
1 hour traveling back to Paris = a 3-hour trip spent mostly in the bus.
The train takes 20 minutes to Melun and then a hop on their shuttle.
That was it for me and tour groups.

Peggy said...

More stained glass please. I am enjoying it immensely.

Have you seen the colored light projection at night in Chartres? It is thrilling.

La Table De Nana said...

That's what J said!

Sara @ Simply Sara Travel said...

I love your sketches of Malcolm! And so glad you got to do a tour with him - he is such a fascinating guide, and his passion for the Cathedral really shines through.

Cyndy S. said...

It occurred to me last time I visited Chartres that it’s rebuilding was really an economic development project. The city depended on the pilgrimage trade for business so when the church was destroyed they were financially motivated to replace it-quick. It’s still an economic driver for the city. and I wonder if the beautiful windows from the various trade groups looked like advertising then? what would those windows look like if they were made now with contemporary figures in contemporary dress?

Parisbreakfasts said...

They were sort of ads for the wealthy who paid for them according to Miller.

Have you read The Pillars of the Earth...I haven't yet.

La Dame aux Camellias said...

Must see Chartres now, Carol, and meet up with Malcolm! Have been to Reims Cathedral and the history is fascinating. My middle name is for Jeanne d'Arc, so had to visit. It's the first time I tried the Rose biscuits they are famous for in the area and can be found in all the little shops around the cathedral (divine with Champagne).
Deborah Jeanne ;)

Frances said...

Carol, this was a lovely post. Grand for you to be join the Malcolm Miller tour. The colors of the windows are superb, quite different from St Chapelle, as you say. I might slightly prefer St Chapelle's colorway. On to Reims. More visual splendour, with some history to tell the tale of its arrival.

I loved the picture of the teapots in the window.

You're finding marvelous ways to make the rest of us realize that August can be a fine time to be in France. xo

Parisbreakfasts said...

Their main pink shop is adorable too.
I'll be there you bet ;))

Joy said...

My husband was fortunate to play the organ at Chartres Cathedral! We were touring it one weekday with my students and the organist was practicing for Sunday morning. Our tour guide told the bookstore worker that there was an organist that would love to see the organ. He telephoned the organist who invited us up for a visit. It is on the 2nd floor up a set of winding stairs. Once we arrived, he graciously invited my husband (who has been a church organist for 45 years) to sit down and play.. I believe he played a short Handel piece from memory. Quite a life moment for my husband...and me!

Parisbreakfasts said...

Fabulous story Joy!!

Peggy said...

We saw Malcolm Miller about 30 or so years ago. It's so good to know that he's still sharing his passion for Chartres. He's wonderful!

A and D said...

Hey, loving your posts on stained glass!

G Smith said...

this is one of your best ever!
Hope you are reading henry adams.
Mont Saint Michel and Chartres

Karryll said...

I totally agree with you about Malcom Miller. I was lucky enough to enjoy his tour at Chartres about five years ago. Without him, I fear I would have just staggered around, not know where to look first. My only regret is that the fabulous labyrinth was covered with chairs, and I couldn't walk it. It's only uncovered one Friday a month, unfortunately the day AFTER I was there.

KN said...

Am enjoying your cathedral tours!

Kathy!!! said...


Marie Arden said...

Do you know the artist for the portrait of woman pouring tea into her saucer-- it was on your blog a few days ago? I tried contacting the museum but all they said was the poster of the exhibit was for sale at the ticket booth. No help there.

sukicart said...

I might have to rethink Chartres now that I know about Malcom Miller. Our last visit there we took the crypt tour (as you can no longer visit it on your own) and decided to leave after about 15 minutes as it was all in French & moved very slowly. The guide told us where to go to get out but the gate was locked & the tour went out a different way so we ended up locked in for about an hour and couldn't find anyone to help us. Finally we got so frustrated we popped the lock. and broke out of our confinement..

Anonymous said...

Louis Carmontelle is the artist.

joanherlinger said...

It probably was, I read it last year, but actually bought the audio book recently so as to listen to it while I'm working. :)

Leslie in Oregon said...

There is a swimming pool at Paris Plage!

Parisbreakfasts said...

Ehat a story! sorry Sukie

Parisbreakfasts said...

Wonderful artist...its inthe post.

Parisbreakfasts said...

Ohhh, I just listened to the free snippet offered on Amazon.
I'm hooked. She's terrific to listen to. Thanks Jean!!

Parisbreakfasts said...

PS Miller recommended the Crypt afternoon tour but I went to the glass museum instead. I'm not fond of dark, claustrophobic places. I'll never go in the Paris Catacombs for that reason

Diana said...

Check out this Chartres video on YouTube:

If you go again try to see the night light show.
It was fabulous!!!

Parisbreakfasts said...

La Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres mise en lumière par SPECTACULAIRES

Peggy said...

If you are going to Reins, you must also visit the Basilique Saint-Remi de Reims.

For me,it was as amazing as Notre-Dame de Reims.

Parisbreakfasts said...

WOW Peggy!
I had no idea.
I will be going back again since I missed the Palais de Tau too.
Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Malcom M. is LEGEND. I did a tour with him several years ago also, he is a treasure!

Parisbreakfasts said...

Too true He is a National treasure and has been knighted by the French government for his scholarly dedication to Chartres.

Nikon said...

Stained glass doesn't seem to be something that I get tired of looking at!
I like the Chartres guy, but the Centre International Du Vitrail seemed a little cozier, maybe because of the close up look at the glass that you get.

~Suzanne~ said...

Bonjour PB~
I too have this "thing" for stained glass. If you would like to extend your adventure into spectacular color, you must visit Cathedral Sainte Gatien in Tours. Arrive quickly by TGV, the Cathedral is a short walk away (we found it by accident waiting for check-in into Hotel du Manoir). Our purpose for visiting Tours was to take the chateau tours. We have returned (for the same reason) but now include a visit to Sainte Gatien for the magnificent stained glass. The Cloister next to the church is worth a visit as well. ~Suzanne

~Suzanne~ said...

Bonjour PB~
I too have this "thing" for stained glass. If you would like to extend your adventure into spectacular color, you must visit Cathedral Sainte Gatien in Tours. Arrive quickly by TGV, the Cathedral is a short walk away (we found it by accident waiting for check-in into Hotel du Manoir). Our purpose for visiting Tours was to take the chateau tours. We have returned (for the same reason) but now include a visit to Sainte Gatien for the magnificent stained glass. The Cloister next to the church is worth a visit as well. ~Suzanne

Henry V said...

The Malcom Miller Experience @ Chartres Cathedral

From the very recent personal experience of five septuagenarian Englishmen


We expected a tour of the Cathedral - what we got was an academic analysis of three windows, if that is what you want, then he is your man (with the caveats set out below) - but if you want a broader understanding of the history of the Cathedral, we suggest the audio tour.

He arrives with ego intact, on show and ready to feed that ego throughout his lecture.

He doesn’t introduce himself, so don’t ask him who he is – you’ll get a downright rude response.

If you have read one of his books, know the titles ( at least ) of his other books and be prepared to answer questions on the content.

Whatever else you do, don’t let on that you learnt Latin or Greek at any level of education or he’ll humiliate you with his superior knowledge.

You will be treated to at least a summary of his educational background – possibly more, and a summary of the countries, cities and towns where he has lectured.

Be prepared to be quizzed on the Latin or Greek derivation of modern words.

Be prepared to be humiliated as if you are a class of adolescents.

Always bear in mind that he has a complete lack of both ‘Emotional Intelligence’ and ‘Interpersonal Skills’.

Undoubtedly extremely intelligent and talented in his single-minded fixation, but has a total inability to appear humble in front of his audience.

Displays not a jot of understanding that other people don’t necessarily view the world as he does.

He is 83, as he kept reminding us and therefore possibly "past his sell-by date".

Sadly, what should have been an extremely interesting, informative and enjoyable learning experience was overshadowed by the manner and behaviour of this apparently ‘famous’
‘Ego on Legs’