Chartres as a town makes for a rewarding day trip from Paris. As nice as any French town, and nicer than many, Chartres is home to one of France's oldest and most important churches: The Cathedral of our lady of Chartres (Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Chartres).
With fascinating mis-matched towers, some amazingly old stained glass windows and a prized relic, if you are looking to visit a significant church outside of Paris, then this has to be a strong contender.
What to see
The cathedral is considered by some to be the most beautiful cathedral in France and is notable because it demonstrates all the elements of Gothic architecture. It is also one of cathedrals in France that has survived intact through many generations.
The first thing that stands out when you visit the Chartres cathedral is that the two spires of the church do not match. One spire dates from the 12th century, the other (in the Flamboyant style) is from the 16th century.
All the glass in the cathedral was removed before the second world war. This preserved them from destruction in the war. This means that the cathedral at Chartres the majority of the windows date between 1205 - 1240. This includes the three huge rose windows.
In the center of the cathedral is a prayer labyrinth inlaid in the floor of the cathedral. Like the stained glass windows, the prayer labyrinth is one of the few surviving prayer labyrinth's in France. There is a similar labyrinth in Amiens.
Things to do
How to get there
Chartres is linked to Paris by the regional (or TER) line trains.
Trains for Chartres leave from Montparnasse station roughly every hour and the train ride is between 1 hour - 1 hour 15 minutes.
When the train arrives at Chartres, exit the station onto Place Pierre Semard. Go straight ahead and take Avenue Jehan de Beauce. Walk through the Place Chatelet to Rue Sainte-Meme. Take the first left. This will take you to the square infront of the cathedral.
Approximate Distance from Paris: 90km/56mi
Time to get there: about 1 hour - 1 hour 15 minutes.
Transport Method: Regional Train from Paris Montparnass.
Approximate Price: The train should cost around 14.90 Euro
Worth: An afternoon.
Website: http://www.chartrescathedral.net/ (in English)