Amiens > Chartres
Thursday, July 8th
city, capital of Somme département, Picardie région, principal city and ancient capital of Picardy, northern France, in the Somme River valley, north of Paris. Famed since the European Middle Ages are its textile industry and its great Gothic Cathedral of Notre-Dame, one of the finest in France. Known as Samarobriva in pre-Roman times and capital of the Ambiani (whence the modern name), Amiens became a Roman city, Christianized in the 4th century by St. Firmin, its first bishop. Its territory became the medieval countship of Amiénois, and its citizens profited from rivalry between bishop and count to gain a charter early in the 12th century. The Peace of Amiens (1802) marked a short pause in the Napoleonic Wars. In 1914, after a brief incursion into the city, the invading Germans dug in 18 miles (29 km) east; their final drive in 1918 was stopped 8 miles (13 km) from the city. In World War II, Amiens was occupied by the Germans. After serious damage in both wars, the city centre was rebuilt.
The old part of Amiens, including the reconstructed 17th-century city hall, the 15th-century Church of Saint-Germain, and the ancient theatre with the Louis XVI facade, is latticed with seven branches of the river.
The cathedral was begun in 1220 on the plans of Robert de Luzarches and was finished about 50 years later (there were subsequent additions). Its galleried and rose-windowed facade, pierced by three portals and topped by twin towers, is splendid. It has a remarkable interior with a soaring nave and bold supporting columns, employing the logic of Romanesque while imposing the open and dramatic qualities of Gothic.
Apart from textiles, there is some manufacturing, including machinery, chemicals, and tires. Truck farmers from the adjacent heavily watered bottom lands (hortillons) hold market in the city from small boats. Longeau, near Amiens, is an important railroad junction.
town, capital of Eure-et-Loir département, Centre region, northwestern France, southwest of Paris. The town is built on the left bank of the Eure River, and the spires of its famous cathedral are a landmark on the plain of Beauce. Wide boulevards, bordered by elms, encircle the old town with its steep, narrow streets that lead down to picturesque houses by the river. The modern city has seen much recent growth in the neighbouring plain, which is an important route between Paris and the Loire Valley; and toward Brittany.
The main part of the great cathedral of Notre-Dame at Chartres was built in less than 30 years in the mid-13th century, when high Gothic architecture was at its purest. This gives it a unity that is almost unique. The cathedral was built to replace a 12th-century church of which only the crypt, the base of the towers, and the west facade remain. Remarkable 13th-century stained-glass windows
and a Renaissance choir screen add to the beauty of the edifice. Another notable church is Saint-Pierre, built mainly in the 13th century. A museum is housed in the former Episcopal Palace, dating from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Chartres, named after a Celtic tribe, the Carnutes, who made it their principal Druidic centre, was attacked several times by the Normans and was burned by them in 858. In the Middle Ages it became a countship and was held by the families of Blois and Champagne. The city was sold to the king of France in 1286, but during the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453), the English occupied it for 15 years. Francis I raised it to the rank of a duchy in 1528. During the Wars of Religion, the Protestants attacked it unsuccessfully. Henry IV was crowned there in 1594. During World War II, the town was severely damaged. Chartres is a market town for the region of Beauce (the granary of France) and has agricultural industries (fertilizers and farm equipment). Other industries include brewing, perfumes, the manufacture of car accessories, and electronic equipment. The proximity of Paris has stimulated its economic development.