Chartres, a town of about 42,000 inhabitants, is about an hour by car or train southwest of Paris; it's the capital of the Eure-et-Loir department in France. Chartres calls itself "the Capital of Light and Perfume" because it's located in the heart of Cosmetic Valley (There's a perfume festival in April).
In 1979, the Gothic Chartres Cathedral made UNESCO's very first World Heritage list. It is the largest cathedral in France.
You'll go to Chartres to see the Cathedral and maybe a museum or two. Chartres makes a good day trip from Paris, or you can stay the night. Chartres has many fine restaurants and cafes.
Frequent trains pass between Paris Gare Montparnasse and Chartres; the journey taking 50-75 minutes depending on the speed of the train. (Check Schedules).
From the train station, just exit and start to navigate toward the cathedral; you'll see its massive spires in front of you. In fact, you'll see them from just about anywhere in Chartres.
By car, the roads are well signed and you should have no trouble navigating the city.
Chartres Tourist Office
The Chartres tourist office is conveniently located in front of the Cathedral. They'll provide you with a walking map of the city. You can also get a hotel reservation there if you should need one. You can email the Tourist Office. The tourist office also sponsors gourmet weekends (See our Chartres Directory)
Interesting Museums in Chartres
Musée des Beaux-Arts (Fine Arts Museum of Chartres, located just behind the cathedral)
29, Cloître Notre-Dame
28000 - Chartres
Tel. : 33 (0)2 37 36 41 39
Fax: 33 (0)2 37 36 14 69
Conservatoire du Machinisme et des Pratiques Agricoles, an agricultural museum with exhibits of old machines and artifacts of the rural life around Chartres.
1, rue de la Republique
28300 Chartres - Mainvilliers Tel: 02.37.36.11.305,
Le Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle - Natural Science and Prehistory Museum
Boulevard de la Courtille
For other things to do if you're staying in Chartres for more than a day: 10 Things to do in Chartres besides the Cathedral.
Where to Stay
Hotel Hotellerie Saint Yves offers simple lodging with private baths in a former seminary building. Individuals on retreat or groups can stay here; the price is very reasonable for a hotel a around 100 meters from the cathedral.
The Hotel Mercure Chartres Cathedrale is also highly rated, but a more expensive four star hotel.
HomeAway offers a few vacation apartments in Chartres if you need more room to spread out in.
Chartres Cathedral Tours
Malcolm Miller's tours are highly regarded. A perpetual student of the cathedral, Malcolm offers tours at noon and 2:45 daily except Sundays (contact information) Check at the Tourism Office before you go. Miller's book, Chartres Cathedral, is also highly regarded.
The Chartres Labyrinth
Typical of many Gothic Cathedrals, Chartres Cathedral has a labyrinth laid into the floor. The Labyrinth is dated to around 1200.
David's Discoveries: A tale of two labyrinths gives you a good idea of what to expect concerning the labyrinths at Chartres:
"Unsurprisingly, of the 2 million or so visitors who tramp through the cathedral each year, only a fraction of them walk the labyrinth. It's accessible - meaning the chairs are removed from the floor space the labyrinth occupies - on Fridays only, from April to October. Those who arrive on the wrong day or in the wrong season head outside to the grass labyrinth, where they mix with the locals."
For more on Chartres, see our Chartres Travel Directory.
The Taste of Chartres Unlocked
Jonell Galloway and James Flewellen lead food and wine tasting holidays in historic Chartres: Taste Unlocked.