This Loire Valley town excites with its magnificent religious architecture, gorgeous parks, medieval streets and scenic riverside setting.
Ancient buildings, a monumental gothic cathedral, riverside parks and a spectacular light show are just some of the attractions awaiting visitors to Chartres. The picturesque city is situated in the Loire Valley on the banks of the River Eure.
Many people start their visit by exploring the cobbled streets of the medieval old town with its half-timber houses, antique stores and numerous cafés. As you do so, find your way to Chartres Cathedral. This colossal gothic structure dates back to the 12th century. Among its architectural highlights are the mismatched spires. One is Romanesque, the other is gothic. Inside, see the tunic that is said to have been worn by Mary when she gave birth to Jesus. Climb the northern spire for an incredible view of the city and beyond.
Among the town’s other ancient structures are St. Aignan Church, which originated in the fifth century and the Abbey of St. Pierre. Photograph the remains of Porte Guillaume, one of the ancient gates of Chartres.
Also worth seeing on your tour of the town are its museums. Study the large collection of tractors at the Agriculture Museum and peruse ancient and modern pieces at the Museum of Fine Arts. Visit Maison Picassiette, a house covered in mosaics.
When you are looking for some relxation, go to one of the parks. Stroll down to the banks of the river and rent a canoe or paddle boat at La Petite Venise. There is also a mini zoo here. Inhale the sweet scents of hundreds of roses at Andre Gagnon Park and walk among English oaks and redwoods at the Horticultural Gardens.
On your way out to dinner, stop by the old town for the light show. For around 200 consecutive nights, the cathedral and many other sites are illuminated by colored lights and images.
The parks, gothic cathedral and medieval streets of Chartres are approximately 56 miles (90 kilometers) from Paris. Arrive by train in little more than an hour and get around by rental car, public transport or by renting a bike from the office at the train station.