Visit time : half-day.
The Notre Dame de Chartres Cathedral is an architectural masterpiece of the 12th and 13th centuries, imposing its unity and harmony on the surrounding area. It is often considered a perfect gothic cathedral, one that has traversed the centuries without major incident despite the many chapters of history that have unfolded around it. With its beautifully preserved stained glass and statuary, it is possible today to admire this monumental ensemble in its (mostly) original splendor. Its exceptional state of preservation and the speed at which it was built (most of the building was completed in just 26 years) make the cathedral a major and unique testament to the world of Christendom in the Middle Ages. Although it was built on the base of a Romanesque construction, it shows great architectural homogeneity and demonstrates a certain continuity between the two styles. The Chartres Cathedral was the center of medieval Christianity. A major pilgrimage site, it is visible from many kilometers away with its bell tower that rises to 112 meters, guiding pilgrims to this holy place.
Partly built starting in 1145, and rebuilt in 26 years after the fire of 1194, Chartres Cathedral marks the high point of French Gothic art. The vast nave, in pure ogival style, the porches adorned with fine sculptures from the mid-12th century, and its shimmering stained glass windows from the 12th and 13th centuries, make it a unique and remarkably well-preserved masterpiece.
Chartres Cathedral was selected as a World Heritage site in 1979 under criteria (i), (ii) and (iv).
Criteria for selection
Criterion (i) : Constructed rather quickly and completed almost all at once, the Chartres Cathedral, through the unity of its architecture and decoration, contains the total and achieved expression of one of the most unanimous aspects of the Christian Middle Ages
Criterion (ii) : The Chartres Cathedral has had a considerable influence on the development of Gothic architecture in and outside of France.
Criterion (iv) : The Chartres Cathedral is both a symbol and a model of construction : it is the most illuminating example of the cultural, social and aesthetic elements of a Gothic cathedral.
Source : UNESCO / ICOMOS
Several buildings succeeded one another on the present site of the Cathedral from the 4th to the 10th century. In 876, King Charles the Bald, grandson of Charlemagne, made a donation to the cathedral – a holy relic known as the "Veil of the Virgin". This event made Chartres a high-profile sanctuary and a popular pilgrimage destination (see "Pilgrimage").
In 1134 the city was destroyed by fire but the Romanesque cathedral of the era was spared. In the following years, the cathedral was expanded thanks to the space freed by the fire. In 1160 most of the building had already been rebuilt. But in 1194 another fire destroyed part of the building, this time sparing only the crypts, the western facade and the towers. Its reconstruction began immediately. In 1240, the windows were already made and the official dedication took place on October 24, 1260.
What is notable is the extreme rapidity of reconstruction, as was well as the continuity of financial resources needed to carry out the project. This sheds light on the city’s economic prosperity, or at least of its donors, professional trade associations and public figures.
The coronation of Henry IV
Henri IV was the only French king crowned in this cathedral and not in Reims, as was the custom. Reims and Paris were indeed held by the Armée de la Ligue Catholique (Army of the Catholic League), which opposed the king because he was Protestant. He eventually converted to Catholicism and was crowned King of France in Chartres in 1594.
Tourist Office Chartres
Maison du Saumon, 8 Rue de la Poissonnerie, 28000 Chartres
Website - tel : 02 37 18 26 26.
October through April: Monday to Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday and holidays: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. ;
May through September: Monday to Saturday: 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Sunday and holidays: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Accommodation available for visitors with disabilities. Audio guide rental available for visiting the city.
The Maison du Saumon that houses the Tourist Office is without a doubt one of the most beautiful houses in the city. Completed in the early 16th century, it takes its name from the beautiful salmon carved on the ground floor. The Tourist Office presents the various attractions throughout the city with models, architectural reproductions and documentaries. It is a good introduction to visiting the Cathedral and the city.
Tips for Visitors
The pass includes access to many museums and monuments. Provide discounts or benefits from other tourist and cultural sites. Available at the Tourist Office for €15.50.
"A day in Chartres": Free interactive visit for smartphones and tablets (in French and English)
Discover more than 30 sites of Chartres and let the “App” guides you over unusual and inaccessible places.
Children’s visit organized by the Tourist Office (in French)
Theatrical Visit for Children (1 hour, 30 minutes)
"Raconte-moi l'Histoire de Chartres" ("Tell me the history of Chartres")
Price: adult with kid €6.50 / 4 to 12 years old: €6.50. Free for children under 4 years old.
Reservation recommended , available through the Tourist Office.
City tour at 2 p.m., anecdotes and quizzes provide a fun and educational way to retrace the history of the city.
Tours organized by the Tourist Office during "Chartres en Lumières"
Guided tour (in French)
From April to September, Saturday evening and Tuesday evening in July and August.
Guided walk to discover the monuments of the city. Information available at the Tourist Office.
May, June, September, Friday and Saturday nights. July and August: every night. Departure from the front of the Cathedral.
“Privilege” Tour (in French) on Fridays evenings from April through September.
Visit the Cathedral and its crypt by candlelight, then follow the "Chartres en Lumières" tour.
Calendar of Events
Chartres en lumières (April through September)
Website - Every evening, from nightfall to 1 a.m.
Chartres en Lumières (Chartres, Illuminated) is a must-see event. From April through September, 24 monuments are illuminated and accompanied by music, offering beautiful sights and an exceptional experience for visitors.
In late September, the Fête de la Lumière (Festival of Lights) closes the Chartres en Lumières event with shows, music, and more illuminations…
Soirées Autrement (June through August)
At 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. Discover the Cathedral otherwise.
Covered Market on Wednesday and Saturday morning, in the covered hall at Place Billiard, near the Cathedral.
Organic market and handicraft on Wednesday evening, place Billiard.
Flower Market on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, Place du Cygne.
Christmas market in December.
Getting to Chartres
From Paris: highway RN10 towards Rambouillet via Porte de Saint-Cloud
From elsewhere : highway RN10
From Tours and the southwest: highway RN23
From Bretagne (Brittany): highway RN154 from Rouen, Evreux, Dreux or Orléans
By national highway (may incur tolls):
From Paris: A6 direction Bordeaux-Nantes via Porte d'Orléans, then A10 and A11 towards Nantes, exit 2, then highway RN 10
From Nantes, Angers and Le Mans: highway A11, exit 3
From Bordeaux: highway A10, exit Allaines, then highway RN 154
From Le Mans: highway A11, exit 3, then highway RN 10
From Rouen and Orleans: highway RN 154
Nearby classified sites:
Château de Versailles: 75 km (46.5 mi), time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Château de Fontainebleau: 115 km (71.5 mi), time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Paris, Banks of the Seine: 92 km (57 mi), time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
From the airports of Paris-Orly (82 km, 50 minutes) and Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle (102 km, 90 minutes)
Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport
Website - tel : 39 50.
23 kilometers north of Paris
Aéroport de Paris-Orly
Website - tel : 39 50.
14 kilometers south of Paris
Bus station in Chartres
10 Place Pierre Sémard, 28000 Chartres
tel : 02 37 18 59 00
Next to the train station.
8 Place Pierre Sémard, 28000 Chartres
Website - tel : 36 35.
Dozens of trains per day from Paris. Takes at least 1 hour from the Paris-Montparnasse train station.
Parking open 7 days a week, 24h/24h:
Parking Châtelet - Cathedral.
Parking Coeur de Ville. Entrances: Place des Epars and Place de la Porte Saint-Michel.
2 bis Boulevard de la Résistance, 28000 Chartres
Tel : 02 37 36 26 98.
Bus network accessible to visitors with reduced mobility
Tips for getting around
"Relais des portes" :
A complimentary shuttle that serves the city center area (free).
Monday to Saturday: 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The Mini Train
Website - Tel: 06 80 73 10 05.
Price: €6.50 / children 3 to 14 years old: €3.50
Operates from April through October, first departure at 10:30 a.m.
Commented tour of around 30 minutes that retraces the history of the old town. Departs from the right side of the Cathedral.
Evening tour, see: "Calendar of Events - Chartres en Lumières". Price: €7.50/ children 3 to 14 years old: €4.50. Every evening in July and August ; Fridays and Saturdays only in April, May, June and September.
Sleeping / Eating
The selection of accommodation proposed below consists of establishments that offer a good quality/price value. These addresses are nearby the classified area. The prices shown are for the off season, on the basis of 2 people.
Hôtellerie Saint Yves
Rue des Acacias, 28000 Chartres
Website - tel : 02 37 88 37 40.
Room from €74.
Chambres d’hôtes "Les Conviv’hôtes"
10 Rue du Pot Vert, 28000 Chartres
Website - tel : 02 37 90 88 62.
Room from €68. Kitchen available. Credit card not accepted.
Le Boeuf Couronné ***
15 Place Châtelet, 28000 Chartres
Website - Tel: 02 37 18 06 06.
Room from €89.
Best Western Le Grand Monarque ****
22 Place des Épars, 28000 Chartres
Website - tel : 02 37 18 15 15.
Room from €125.
Its restaurant, Le Georges, offers gourmet cuisine.
Menu from €54.
The selection of restaurants proposed below consists of restaurants that offer a good price/quality value. These addresses are nearby the classified area. “Formule” corresponds to a lunch special with a starter and a main course, or a main course and a dessert. The “menus” usually consist of a starter, a main course and a dessert," for lunch or dinner.
Le Café Bleu - bistrot
1 Cloître Notre Dame , 28000 Chartres
Website - tel : 02 37 36 59 60.
"Formule": €16.90. "Menu" from €28.
L'Esprit Gourmand - traditional French cuisine
6 Rue du Cheval Blanc, 28000 Chartres
Tel: 02 37 36 97 84.
"Menu" from €25.
Les Feuillantines - traditional French cuisine
4 Rue du Bourg, 28000 Chartres
Tel: 02 37 30 22 21.
"Formule" from €25. "Menu" from €35.
Le Saint Hilaire - fine cuisine
11 Rue du Pont Saint-Hilaire, 28000 Chartres
Website - Tel: 02 37 30 97 57.
"Menu" from €30.