Chartres Cathedral

The cathedral of Chartres, dating from 1132, is considered one of the masterpieces of Gothic architecture. Located a short distance from Illiers, Proust knew it from his youth. And later when doing research for his translations of works by John Ruskin, Proust revisited Chartres. In his novel, Proust gives brief descriptions of the facade and windows at Chartres. This cathedral, like the more modest church of Saint-Jacques in Illiers, lay on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The scallop shells (coquilles Saint-Jacques) worn by the pilgrims are found in the church as one of the decorative motifs. The shells have the same shape as the little cakes known as madeleines that feature in one of the most famous episodes in the novel.

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