In the Loire Valley region of France, Chartres is most famous for its magnificent cathedral which dominates the surrounding countryside. A popular day trip from Paris and just 57 miles (92 kilometers) away, it's easy to get to Chartres in less than two hours. However, without a bus line shuttling visitors between the two cities, your only choice will be either to take the train or drive.
|Train||1 hour, 15 minutes||from $13||Budget travel|
|Car||50 minutes||57 miles (92 kilometers)||Flexibility|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Paris to Chartres?
Taking the train is the most affordable way to get to Chartres with one-way tickets costing between $13 and $35, depending on whether or not it is a peak travel time. Trains to Chartres leave about once every one or two hours between 6 a.m. and 12 a.m. from Gare Montparnasse and tickets are available in first or second class. Because train travel in France is so easy, this is the most convenient way to get Chartres, whether you are just visiting for the day or spending the night.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Paris to Chartres?
Without traffic, it's possible to get to Chartres from Paris in as little as 50 minutes—especially if you happen to leave from the southwestern corner of the city. It's an easy drive along the A10 and A11 highways, a route which will take you past the Orly Airport. However, this is really only a good option if Chartres is a stop on a multi-city road trip through France since you will have to pay for parking, tolls, and your rental car. Though, if you plan on being in France for more than 17 days, consider using the French lease-back program, a great deal for non-Europeans. A car will allow you more flexibility to to squeeze in more popular Paris day-trip destinations. It's not a terribly long drive, so you may also consider taking a taxi. Just beware that it will likely cost you upwards of $160.
When Is the Best Time to Travel to Chartres?
Being so close to Paris, Chartres experiences about the same seasonality as the capital city with humid summers and cold, sometimes snowy, winters. The hotels tend to be fully booked during high season in July and August, so make your reservations in advance. Summer has its bonuses, especially when buildings all over the city are spectacularly lit during Chartresen Lumière. When the evening skies grow dark, don't miss the sound and light show on the west and south sides of the Chartres Cathedral. Children may also enjoy riding the small train that runs in the summer throughout the city until late at night.
What Is There to Do in Chartres?
Chartres, with its mix of medieval cobbled streets, gracious squares and old buildings, is one of the most popular destinations for visitors to Paris and the Loire Valley. The Chartres Cathedral is the city's main attraction, so make sure you go inside to appreciate some of the most beautiful stained glass windows in all of France. The cathedral is so large that you may need a pair of binoculars to see the details of the top windows. And while you're in there, you can also take a whirl through the cathedral's famous labyrinth, which is said to represent the pilgrim's quest to the holy land. Another interesting attraction that draws many to visit Chartres is La Maison Picassiette, a home, which is now a museum, completely covered and decorated in pieces of broken crockery that once captured of artist Pablo Picasso.