Situated on the banks of the Eure River in the center of a plain known as La Beauce (renowned as the granary of France, thanks to the many miles of surrounding wheat fields), Chartres has been receiving visitors throughout the centuries. Its ancient granite stones exude a history that begins with the Celts and the Romans. Our Chartres tours evoke not only the history of the cathedral, but also that of the old town.
The cathedral we see today was constructed in less than thirty years during the 13th C., a period of remarkable purity of Gothic style, which it embodies. It stands on a site where records indicate at least three previous cathedrals had stood. A sermon in glass and stone, the building is ornamented with over four thousand sculptures and houses one of the finest collections of 13th C. stained glass in all of Europe. It also is home to a relic said to be the cloak of the Virgin, is therefore a marian church, hence its name, Notre Dame de Chartres.
Our Chartres tours reveal what makes the cathedral unique and initiates the visitor in the fine art of reading the Biblical stories, which are depicted in stained glass and stone. We also relate how the cathedral became a key place of Catholic pilgrimage, wealth and economic power, and therefore the object of envy to covetous political powers who vied for control of it and its resources.
Our Chartres tours will also take you on a walk through the old town, draped on the side of a hill leading down to the river, where numerous restored mills evoke professions (millers, dyers, drapers, tanners, curriers, fullers, and tawers, to name a few) of bygone eras that no longer exist. Not far away, there is a Michelin single star restaurant, Les Georges, where you can have a refined meal. Many simpler dining options also abound.
To make a complete day of touring, we usually propose our Chartres tour in conjunction with either visits to the chateau in Versailles or the home and gardens of Claude Monet in Giverny (but not in the winter, when it is closed). There are also interesting sites that are closer to Chartres, such as the chateaux in Maintenon (home of Louis XIV’s second wife) and Anet (to which Diane de Poitier retired after her eviction from Chenonceaux).
For more information or to book your Chartres tour, please contact us at our US number (631) 600-1120.