"A Piece of the Medieval World" Top 5 Page for this destination Chartres by hquittner

Chartres Travel Guide: 250 reviews and 957 photos

Many Trips Mostly By Car

In 3 decades we have visited Chartres at least 4 times. The first time we went as most tourists do, on a do-it-yourself day trip from Paris. We were totally overcome (as was our 10 year old grandson 8 years later). It is Notre Dame de Paris and the Ste.-Chapelle combined, only more. At that time we were ignorant beginners in Medieval History and in Art (neglected in our careers in becoming hard scientists) and were lucky enough to encounter Malcolm Miller and attend his tour (1983). He has since become famous for his studies and presentations through books, video and world-wide lectures. The last 25 years have corrected this deficiency. After the first exposure we spent our next vacation centered around "cathedral hopping", done by car (Amiens, Bourges, Beauvais, Laon Rouen, etc), In this way we stayed at towns in or near each church and discovered the delight of small French towns and cities.

Going to Chartres by Car

The dividend of going to Chartres by car and staying in the town is that you can see and feel the charming town and review the outside of the cathedral at your leisure without pressure to return to Paris at a sensible hour.In addition, if you are going onward in France, you can make a slight detour in the morning (or afternoon) to the "village" of Meslay-le-Grenet some 10 km south, where there is a small church whose walls are covered with paintings depicting the "Danse Macabre" (around 1500). This is one of about 4 remaining displays (and the best) in the world.(We will detail it further under "Off the Beaten Path")

More of Chartres

This is a great walking town, but it is up and down and cobbled. The Eure is in the valley behind the Cathedral. The restaurants are varied in style from bistro to brasserie to fine. There other churches to see and even a museum and many old houses. If you are not in a rush you can accomodate the hours in which the Cathedral Crypt is open and take the time above to really understand the window with a Miller book and a pair of binoculars or the zoom of a camcorder. The former technic was strongly recommended by the greatest and last of the American Adams Family (those presidents), the historian and writer Henry Adams (d.1918) whose masterpiece "Mont St.-Michel and Chartres" should be studied (and read) by every serious tourist to France. (More on him will be a Chartres General Tip).

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:French Tourism (not Parisian) begins here.
  • Cons:It is hard to park during the day.
  • In a nutshell:We keep coming back.
  • Last visit to Chartres: May 1998
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (32)

Comments (4)

  • hindu1936's Profile Photo
    May 15, 2009 at 6:43 AM

    A wonderful guided tour through a historic city with details that make it more exciting. thank you. If you want to join my live forever club, send the money to "old foggies Inc." we have to stick together

  • jumpingnorman's Profile Photo
    Feb 9, 2009 at 8:56 PM

    Wow, your Chartres tips are so detailed -- you just be in architecture...wish I read your tips before I visited it. Greetings from Arizona, Norman :)

  • Zvrlj's Profile Photo
    Aug 7, 2007 at 2:52 PM

    Great page! Are you an art historian? Greetings from Kragujevac, Serbia

  • mikelisaanna's Profile Photo
    Apr 1, 2007 at 6:34 PM

    We were in Chartres about 8 years ago and loved it. Thanks for bringing back some good memories. Now we need to get around to putting together our Chartres page...


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