Planning a visit to Chartres and wondering what to see? You’re at the right place. We guarantee you’ll be spoilt for choice and the only real question is how you’re going to max out your time in town. Here’s a handy selection of the top 5 things to do in Chartres to get you started!
Marvel at Chartres en Lumières
From April to October, the most beautiful heritage buildings and facades of Chartres are illuminated every evening, beginning at dusk and lasting until 1am. Together, these lights create breathtaking views, giving nocturnal life a whole new dimension for visitors strolling through the streets during “Chartres en Lumières”. The idea is to follow the full sightseeing itinerary marked on the ground by small blue lights. Our advice is to start by the banks of river Eure in the lower part of town in order to admire the illuminated bridges and wash houses, then head up to St Nicolas hillock to marvel at the cathedral. The highlights of the show are the west portals, or so-called Royal Portals, which transform into incredible illuminated masterpieces to end this magical nightly wonder.
Visit the Chartres Cathedral
Pretty much everywhere you go in Chartres, you can catch a glimpse of the splendid cathedral soaring over the city with its two towers of different heights (103m and 112m). Make sure you go to see this architectural gem close up. Dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries, it combines Romanesque and Gothic styles to perfection. Listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, the Chartres Cathedral is one of the most iconic places of worship in the world. Notice its remarkable stained-glass windows which includes “Notre-Dame de la Belle-Verrière” showcasing the “blue” of Chartres, a unique shade of blue created especially for this specific cathedral. Delve deeper into the spiritual atmosphere by visiting the crypt and by walking its impressive labyrinth!
Taste the Chartres pâté
Eure et Loir has its fair share of traditional dishes which also tell a story. You’ll find time-honoured recipes to tantalise your tastebuds. Usually prepared with foie gras and game meat the “Chartres Pâté” is one of the local specialties to sample during your stay. You can find an authentic recipe at the renowned "Maison Monarque" in front of the Chartres Cathedral. This delicious pie is guaranteed to take centre stage on any table, or alternatively, may be enjoyed as part of a romantic picnic in the park.
Stroll along the banks of river Eure
One of the best ways to explore Chartres is a stroll along the banks of river Eure. Go at your own pace, taking time to soak up the unique atmosphere of the city. Follow the river as it meanders beside medieval half-timbered buildings right up to “Little Venice” on a traffic-free bucolic path leading out of the city (called “le plan vert” in French). Cycling is also a fantastic way to discover the city. The good news is that you don’t need to bring your own bike as Chartres Tourist Office conveniently provides cycle hire stations to explore Chartres as well as the peaceful countryside outside the city centre.
Discover the art of stained glass
With Chartres Cathedral being home to the largest collection of preserved medieval stained-glass windows in the world, it is no surprise that Chartres is considered the capital of stained glass in France, showcasing a precious know-how passed on through generations. Exhibiting magnificent works, the Centre International du Vitrail provides a great introduction to stained glass window making. A visit of the "Ateliers Loire" workshops gives visitors a deeper insight into this traditional, ancient craft and into the expertise of master glass painters who perpetuate this rich heritage. If you fancy a hands-on experience of making your own stained-glass piece, join the Picol workshop where you will be introduced to all the key techniques and tools used in this traditional craft.
Top 5 in Chartres
Chartres Tourisme – Office de Tourisme de Chartres MétropoleCHARTRES
Cathédrale de ChartresCHARTRES
A prestigious heritage site, listed at a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the gems of 12th and 13th century art, the Notre-Dame Cathedral of Chartres has always been testimony to the enthusiasm of pilgrims and visitors. Open, guided or ...Read more
Stained Glass – Ateliers LoireLEVES
It is in this factory on the outskirts of Chartres, the world's stained-glass capital, that the Loire family has for 3 generations been crafting the works of art to be found in religious and public buildings all over the workd.Read more
Le Café BleuCHARTRES
Opposite the cathedral, the typical facade of a Bistro hides an elegant dining room, decorated in contemporary fashion with light woods. You will appreciate the typical french cuisine with local products: one of the most famous place in Chartres.Read more
Maison ailleurs “Le Jardin”CHARTRES
This magnificent town house of character and charm conceals a hidden treasure - a most remarkable garden! It is with great taste and talent that this house has been magnificently converted into an ideal place to stay for those in search of old ...Read more
Le Grand Monarque Hotel & SpaCHARTRES
This renovated former coaching inn just begs the traveller to stop off for fine food and a comfortable stay.Read more