Cathedral of Chartres

Written by on June 22, 2013 in Île de France

cathedral of chartres

Like many people who travel to the south of France from the north, we had, before moving here, skirted Paris and took the ring road around Chartres, heading south. Here you’ll find the Cathedral of Chartres, also known as the Cathedral of our Lady of  Chartres. Loving mysteries I knew it had a famous labyrinth and having relatives in Sussex, southern England, I knew it was twinned with Chichester Cathedral but that was all.

From the ring road, even at a distance the twin spires are a majestic sight and Chartres was much bigger than I had imagined. There was underground parking very near the Cathedral; however I must say it was not overly wheelchair friendly as my husband is disabled and the tiny lift only goes to the first floor which means a steep climb upwards. However, once out in the sunshine it was only a short walk through the charming old streets with their quaint shops and on to our destination.

cathedral of chartresOur first complete view of Chartres Cathedral was striking. It is a fine example of gothic architecture, with magnificent flying buttresses and lovely gardens in front of its impressive west facade or Portail Royal. There was a ramp for easy wheelchair access and as we entered, we were immediately impressed by the 176 amazing 12th and 13th century stained glass windows, including the western rose, which depicts the Last Judgement, the north rose which is dedicated to the Virgin, and the southern rose, which is dedicated to Christ. With clever foresight the beautiful stained glass windows had been removed for protection in 1939 before Germany invaded France, then cleaned and re-leaded before being replaced after WWII.

In the centre of the widest nave in France is the famous labyrinth (maze) which is 320 yards (290 meters) long and is the only one surviving in France. I had wanted to see the labyrinth since I had read a story called The Rose Labyrinth, in which it is featured. Unfortunately, it was covered in chairs on the day of our visit but we could still see it, I have since learnt that it is uncovered on Fridays.

cathedral of chartres

The monumental screen, depicting various religious scenes carved from stone, which surrounds the choir is quite beautiful and adorning the altar is a magnificent marble statue of The Assumption.

cathedral of ChartresYou could stand for hours looking at the stained glass, the tiny chapels and the intricate stonework inside this Cathedral, is well worth the visit.

Leaving through the main entrance, we ordered coffee and I popped back to the car for our Border Collie Toby. Sitting outside the tearoom in the sunshine, we thoroughly enjoyed our grande crème whilst admiring the incredibly beautiful carved stonework on the south facade.

Of course, we had to do a little shopping in the gift shops, where we discovered a postcard with an amazing mosaic house, another must visit place in Chartres, La Maison Picassiette. We leisurely wandered back through the streets to the car park, stopping for an ice-cream on the way and only then discovered that La Maison Picassiette was in fact on the other side of Chartres and closing in 15 minutes. Oh well, we will just have to go back another time…

Visit the Cathedral of Chartres website for more information

See some wonderful photographs on the UNESCO World Heritage website

By Susan Keefe

Related Articles

Top ten things to do in Versailles

Versailles, just 12 miles from Paris is home to the most famous castle in the world. But there’s more to this fabulous town than the chateau and most visitors miss out. Here are our top 10 things to do in Versailles… Palace of Versailles Of course you can’t go to Versailles and not see the […]

Continue Reading

Cergy-Pontoise between Paris and the Park

Cergy and Pontoise are towns in France that blend to provide a cultural hint of Paris – just down the road. They are situated about 30 kilometres to the north-west of the capital and both towns retain a distinct, individual identity. They lie below the southern edge of the Vexin French Regional National Park. This […]

Continue Reading

Axe Majeur An Architectural Masterpiece Near Paris

The Axe Majeur is a monumental, immensely grand, work of art. At 3.2km long it is extraordinary despite not being complete according to the original plans. And somehow, despite it’s size, the Axe Majeur on the edge of Paris is hardly known outside of France… Cergy village on the outskirts of Paris is quiet, peaceful […]

Continue Reading

Champs-Elysees Paris To Be Traffic Free

From May this year, the legendary Champs-Elysees Paris will be pedestrianised 1st Sunday of each month. Paris city authorities announced in February 2016 that from May 2016, one of the most famous avenues in the world will go traffic free on the first Sunday of the month. From Sunday 8th May visitors will find the Champs-Elysees […]

Continue Reading



Written by on February 9, 2012 in Île de France

The Île-de-France Region includes 1,281 towns and eight departments.  It also includes the administrative centre of the region and country’s capital – Paris.  Île-de-France is the most populated of France’s mainland regions and one in five births in France takes place in this area.     The climate in the Île-de-France is quite similar to […]

Continue Reading


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Comments are closed.