What to do in Chartres ?
Located at the gateway to Paris and the Loire Castles, Chartres enjoys an international reputation thanks to its UNESCO World Heritage Cathedral.
The city of Chartres has a rich history, which goes back to the Neolithic era. From the Roman period, Autricum (roman name of Chartres which comes from the Gallic tribe of the Carnuts) is an important place but it is especially in the Middle Ages that the city becomes a political, religious and military place of first plan.
The city of Chartres is divided into two parts in medieval times, the upper town with the castle, the Cathedral and the lower town that combine economic activity related to the river as the tannery mills.
The Cathedral resists the French Revolution, despite the damage of the 1st and 2nd World War, the city has preserved a beautiful historical heritage.
You may start with the little train « Char’trains » (located on the Cathedral square) which will leads you to the Old Town.
From April to October, every night, from nightfall at 1 a.m., discover the major event of the city, « Chartres en Lumières ». Through its spectacular nocturnal route, the city reveals its monuments and unmissable sites highlighted.
There are a lot of visits in Chartres :
- The Cathedral is a must,
- The crypt of the Cathedral, dating back to the Romanesque era is a splendor,
- The North Tower of the Cathedral offers an exceptional point of view, more than 60 meters high,
- Church St. Aignan (on St. Aignan Square) to see for its XVI’s and XVII’s centuries stained glasses,
- Church St. Pierre (on St. Pierre Square) former abbey, masterpiece of Gothic Art,
- International Stained Glass Center (on Cardinal Pie Street),
- Museum of Beaux-Arts located in the former episcopal palace and rich with various works (Cloister Notre-Dame),
- Museum of Natural Sciences and Prehistory (on the Courtille Boulevard).
If you are interested in nature, there are a lot of opportunities :
- The Parc des bords de l’Eure is a green island where you may stroll during 3 km, or you may also initiate yourself to canoe, pedal boat or barque,
- The Little Venice near the Cathedral, at the water’s edge,
- The Evêché’s Gardens,
- The Medevial Garden of St. André collegiate Church,
- The André Gagnon Park and its beautiful Rosary,
- The Sakuraï’s Gardens,
- The horticultural garden and its ornemental ducks,
- Chartres has also a strong reputation for its craftsmen, glassmakers, antique dealers, its gastronomy, and it welcomes the headquarters of the Cosmetic Valley (which explains its love of perfume).
The Galerie du Vitrail (Notre-Dame Cloister) offers for sale many books and original stained glass créations from the Loire workshops.
For lovers of Contemporary Art, the « Chemin des Arts » brings together 3 galleries and a workshop :
- The contemporary mosaics gallery (St. Eman Chapel),
- St. André’s collegiate Church,
- The contemporary Art Gallery (Prieuré St. Vincent),
- The contemporary Art Workshop (Massacre Street).
Regarding gastronomy, please try Mentchikoffs inspired from Russia (alliance of meringue and chocolate in a candy). The pâté de Chartres, the Eurélienne (local brewed beer), the poule-au-pot and the Beauce sablé…
Also, the Eure-et-Loire region is rich of discoveries like :
- The Château of Maintenon,
- The Abbey of Thiron-Gardais,
- The Bois-Richeux Farm in Pierres,
- The Pré Catelan in Illiers-Combray,
- The St. Louis Royal Chapel in Dreux,
- The House of Tante Léonie, and the Marcel Proust Museum in Illiers-Combray,
- The St. Orien Church in Meslay-le-Grenet to see « La Danse Macabre » 15th century mural,
- The Aqueduct of Maintenon, ordered by Louis XIV,
- The Château of Villebon,
- The Château of Anet.
The Cinema « Les Enfants du Paradis », theaters (théâtre de Chartres, théâtre du Portail Sud, théâtre de Poche et théâtre du Seuil) are also available in Chartres during your stay.