Presentation of the destination
Chartres is a city in France on the banks of the Eure River. It is the capital of the Eure-et-Loir department and is located 96 km (60 mi) southwest of Paris. It has a population of approximately 40,000 people and is famous around the world for its Cathedral that sits atop a hill in the city and can be seen from afar. Throughout its long history, Chartres has been an important market town of the region that is known for its game pies and other delicacies. Its economy benefits from a diverse range of industries that includes flour milling, brewing, distilling, iron founding, dyeing, and the manufacture of leather, perfume, electronic equipment, car accessories, hosiery, and stained glass. It has also been considered an important site of Christian pilgrimage since the Middle Ages. Each year, thousands of people go on a three day long spiritual walk from Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris to Chartres Cathedral.
Points of interests / things to see
Chartres Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Chartres, is the finest Gothic cathedral in France. It was built between 1194 and 1250, which was quite fast given its immense size. It has been used as the model for Gothic cathedrals built all over the world. Unlike many other cathedrals, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is remarkably well preserved, with few changes to its architecture over the centuries. It is extremely lucky that the building survived both the French Revolution and World War II. The Cathedral is especially known for its beautiful stained glass windows that date back to the 12th and 13th centuries, which survived World War II only because they were removed prior to the German invasion of France, which allowed for them to be saved and replaced after the war was over. It has been an important site of Christian pilgrimage since the 12th century. Many pilgrims come to see the Sancta Camisa, a tunic that is said to have been worn by the Virgin Mary at the time of Jesus’ birth. According to legend, it was given to the Cathedral by Charlemagne in the 9th century, though this has not been proven by historians.Location: 16, cloître Notre-DameHours: open daily 8:30 to 19:30, open until 22:00 Tues, Fri and Sun in July and AugustWebsite: http://www.cathedrale-chartres.org/en/,143.html
Art lovers visiting the city of Chartres will love being able to explore the Musée des Beaux-Arts, the city’s fine arts museum. It is located next to the Cathedral inside a former episcopal palace. After admiring the exterior of the building itself, head inside to experience the wonders of the museum’s many collections. The permanent collections feature ancient and modern art, with works by famous artists including Spanish painter Francisco de Zurbarán and French painters such as Soutine, Chardin, and Vlaminck. Favorite exhibits include a collection of old armor, as well as a goblet that is said to have belonged to Charlemagne. There is also an extensive sculpture collection that includes a famous sculpture created by artist Henri Navarre. Visitors can also explore the frequently changing temporary exhibitions. The museum also houses the Instrumentarium de Chartres, a fascinating collection filled with copies of musical instruments that were created based on depictions found in the sculptures and stained glass windows in Chartres Cathedral.Location: 29, cloître Notre-DameHours: Wed and Sat 10:00 to 12:30 and 14:00 to 18:00, Sun 14:00 to 18:00 (closes at 17:00 1st Nov - 30th April)Admission: full €5.50, reduced (students and groups of more than ten people) €2.70, free for children under 18Website: http://www.chartres.fr/en/culture/arts-et-spectacles/musee-des-beaux-arts/
One of the most unique sites that you can visit in the city of Chartres is the Maison Picassiette. This house is the work of Raymond Isidore, a local resident born in Chartres in 1900. He spent over 30 years of his life building the house himself and then decorating it inside and out with fascinating mosaics. Each mosaic is made from small pieces of glass, porcelain, and broken crockery. Raymond Isidore did all the work himself and managed to cover every single wall of the house, as well as the furniture, with mosaics. He was extremely dedicated to the project, and consistently worked on it until his death in 1964. The house has been officially recognized as a local historic monument since 1984. It is a definite must-see place to visit in Chartres. Tours of Maison Picassiette must be arranged in advance, which can be done easily at the Musée des Beaux-Arts. Those interested in visiting both the museum and this one-of-a-kind house can purchase a combined ticket for both attractions.Location: 22 rue du reposHours: generally between 10:00 and 18:00, hours vary slightly depending on monthAdmission: full €5.50, reduced (students and groups of more than ten people) €2.70, free for children under 18Website: http://www.chartres.fr/en/culture/arts-et-spectacles/maison-picassiette/
Le Centre International du Vitrail, known as the International Stained Glass Center in English, was founded in 1980. It is a museum, workshop and cultural center dedicated to the study and conservation of stained glass. Its presence in Chartres is due to the importance of the stained glass windows located in Chartres Cathedral. The museum, located in a Gothic wine cellar next to the Cathedral, contains exhibitions on modern and ancient stained glass that teach how this fascinating art is painstakingly created. The museum also features an informative exhibit on the famous stained glass windows of Chartres Cathedral that will help visitors understand the artistry behind these works of art. The center also promotes the creation of contemporary stained glass, and contains beautiful examples of stained glass that have recently been made by contemporary artists. Visitors are also able to take a guided tour of the center which includes a visit to the museum, an informative tour of the exhibitions, and a demonstration of the techniques that are used to make a glass and lead window. Location: 5, rue du Cardinal PieHours: Mon through Fri 9:30 to 12:30 and 13:30 to 18:00, Sat 10:00 to 12:30 and 14:30 to 18:00, Sun and holidays 14:30 to 18:00Admission: full €5.50, reduced €4.00Website: http://www.visiter-chartres.fr/en/homepage,73.html
Chartres and the surrounding region has a long agricultural history, so it should come as no surprise that the city has its very own agricultural museum, Le Compa: Conservatoire de l'agriculture. The museum contains a collection of over 7,000 pieces that focuses on informing visitors about the history of agriculture in the region, as well as its shift to mechanization between 1820 and 1970. The museum is full of fascinating artifacts, including a permanent collection of approximately 70 farm machines from around the world that have been carefully restored by museum staff. These machines include impressive examples of early tractors and other machinery. The museum also has a large collection of photography that gives you an idea of what rural life used to be like and what agricultural techniques were used long ago. It also boasts the largest and most important collection of farm toys in France. In addition, there is a library full of documentation related to rural life and farming that includes everything from advertisements for agricultural products to technical manuals and magazines.Location: Pont de MainvilliersHours: Tues through Fri 9:00 to 12:30 and 13:30 to 18:00, Weekends and holidays 10:00 to 12:30 and 13:30 to 19:00Admission: full €3.80, reduced (groups, students, seniors) €3, children 6 to 18 years old €1.50, free for children under 6
Science enthusiasts should be sure to visit Muséum des Sciences Naturelles et de Préhistoire, Chartres’ very own natural science and prehistory museum. Its collections focus on the history and nature of the Eure-et-Loir region. The animal collections include examples of over 200 bird species, small animals from across France, and insects from all over the world. The geology collection is full of fascinating fossils, while the mineral collection contains beautiful stones such as amethyst. There is also an exposition on the evolution of humans, as well as one on human history in the region from the Paleolithic to the Bronze Age.Location: 5, Boulevard de la CourtilleHours: Tuesday 14:00 to 17:00Admission: free
On a sunny day, why not take in some fresh air along the banks of the Eure River? Parc des Bords de l’Eure is located near the Cathedral and city center and provides scenic walking paths along the river. Visitors can rent rowboats, pedal boats, and canoes to experience the river. There is also a small zoo with goats, ducks, geese, chickens, pheasants, peacocks and rabbits, as well as a playground for children to enjoy. The park also has a mini golf course, and there are plenty of places to grab a drink or a snack as you relax.Hours: Mon through Fri 7:30 to 17:30 (Nov - Feb), 19:00 (Mar, Apr, Sep, Oct), 21:00 (May - Aug) and weekends 8:00 to 17:30 (Sep - Apr), 21:00 (May - Aug)
Église Saint-Pierre, known as the Church of Saint Peter in English, is a beautiful 13th century church. While the importance of this historical monument is often overshadowed by Chartres Cathedral, it is a remarkable building with massive arches, high ceilings, and lovely stained glass windows. It was formerly part of a Benedictine abbey that was built in the 7th century. The church and its surrounding buildings were also used as a factory, cavalry barracks, and military hospital during the French Revolution. It is most known for its exquisite enamel representations of the twelve apostles created by French painter Leonard Limousin in the mid-1500s, as well as its old bell tower.
If you decide to explore the city on foot, be sure to visit Porte Guillaume. It is an impressive fortification from the 12th century that was once a primary gateway into the city. This historical monument consists of a pentagonal barbican with two large towers that protected the entry to Chartres. It is named after Guillaume de Ferrières, Viscount of Chartres. The city’s archaeology department has recently begun excavation of the site in order to learn more about its history and architecture. However, historians do know that its gate was rebuilt in the 15th century, and that the door was destroyed by the German army in 1944 as they retreated from the area.
Vacation rentals in Chartres (Centre-Val de Loire)
How to get there ?
By plane: While Chartres does not have its own airport, there are two airports that are less than a two hour drive away located in Paris. Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) and Paris Orly Airport (ORY) are the two largest airports in France. Both provide international and domestic flights. Chartres is located approximately 115 km southwest of Charles de Gaulle Airport and 80 km southwest of Orly Airport.Website: http://www.aeroportsdeparis.fr/ADP/en-gb/passagers/home/By train: Chartres has its own train station, Gare de Chartres, with frequent direct trains to Paris that take approximately 1 hour and cost between 30 and 40 euros and provide beautiful views of the French countryside. There are also frequent connections to nearby cities including Le Mans, Nogent-le-Rotrou, and Courtalain.By car: Chartres can be reached via the A11 motorway from both Paris and Le Mans.Getting aroundBy bus: Chartres has an extensive city bus system that should get you to any destination you desire. It is easy to use and cheap, generally costing around €1 per trip depending on your destination.Website: http://www.filibus.fr/Walking: The best way to explore Chartres is on foot. If you’re afraid of getting lost, you can always get a map to carry with you from the tourist information center.
Chartres city hall
Hotels in Chartres (Centre-Val de Loire)