"A Piece of the Medieval World" Top 5 Page for this destination Chartres by hquittner
Chartres Travel Guide: 255 reviews and 967 photos
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.
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")
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:French Tourism (not Parisian) begins here.
- Cons:It is hard to park during the day.
- In a nutshell:We keep coming back.
The 3 sets of 3 double doorjambs on the 3 sides of the Cathedral are only a small part of stone carving on the... more travel advice
The major walk descends by long flights of steps behind the Cathedral, past unoccupied St.-Andre Church to the Eure... more travel advice
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