Chartres : An Artistic Weekend in 8 Stages!
You’re probably familiar with Chartres because of its renowned cathedral, a dazzling symbol of Gothic art. If this isn’t enough to convince you to remain in the city, don’t be afraid to prolong your stay to find more hidden gems that will leave you with lasting memories. There is a lot of art and culture there, so there isn’t much time to be bored! Let’s travel to Chartres in eight easy steps!
# 1 Notre-Dame de Chartres Cathedral
You will certainly be attracted first and foremost to the magnificent cathedral, a wonder of our history in which Henri IV was venerated rather than Reims due to his Protestant faith. It has been in its current shape since the 12th century, when it was rebuilt after the old Romanesque cathedral was substantially destroyed in a fire.
Given that the construction began soon after, we may infer that it had been planned for some time. The fire may have started as a consequence of a construction mishap, or it could have been started deliberately by people who wanted to change the building’s appearance. The cathedral, which was transformed into a temple of Reason during the French Revolution and barely avoided destruction by the Allies during WWII, has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1979.
Inside, magnificent newly restored stained-glass windows, France’s biggest choir, a labyrinth carved into the flagstones, and numerous crypts will captivate you while you listen to the huge organs. Not to mention the very rich architecture and art that can be found in each aspect, including sculptures and immortalized images, particularly in bas-relief. You’ll leave with a profound admiration for such grandeur!
# 2 The Museum of Fine Arts
The old episcopal residence now houses the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Chartres, which is located near the cathedral. It houses ancient and contemporary art collections, including paintings and sculptures, as well as furniture, polychrome woods, archaeological artifacts, and Oceanian collections.
It’s worth noting that all of the structures, which date from the 15th, 17th, and 18th centuries, are designated as historical monuments and provide a lovely backdrop to the visit.
# 3 The Stained Glass Museum
Let’s stay on the creative theme with a visit to the stained glass museum, which has over 70 original Renaissance stained glass windows. There is also a strong connection to the cathedral, due to an educational area that explains the history and significance of the holy building’s stained glass windows using models and diagrams.
A Gothic vaulted chamber in the basement offers temporary exhibits of modern stained glass. A word of advice: take the guided tour, which will significantly enhance your observation and enable you to immerse yourself in history.
# 4 Discover the upper town and the lower town
The two main sections of the city have been divided by a drop of 30 meters since the Middle Ages. Mills, shoemaking, and tanning are among the industries associated with the river’s vicinity in the lower town. Furthermore, the names of the streets provide indications as to the kind of labor that used to be done there.
The count’s castle and the cathedral were both located in the upper town. The covered market on Place Billard has no remnant from the beginning, although it is visited by a significant number of people.
# 5 Chartres in lights!
The city has made its illuminations a major event since the inaugural Festival of Light in 2003. To the delight of hikers, no fewer than twenty outstanding sights are thus highlighted every evening, at least until January 1, 2022.
Guided tours also explain the narrative of the city’s history and highlight the illuminations along themed pathways. The performance is enriched with street entertainment and innovations are unveiled during the yearly festival in September. This is a must-attend event!
# 6 The Compa
It is also known as the Chartres Conservatory of Agriculture. It is France’s first agricultural museum, and it seeks to enhance knowledge of the agricultural sector and its problems on a worldwide scale, in addition to displaying different historical instruments.
Over 3000 m2 of space tells the narrative of the rural world, the depiction of the peasant image through the ages, and poses the greatest problem of the future: feeding a population of more than 9 billion people in 30 years.
# 7 The Picassiette house
What an odd name for such a beautiful location! Raymond Isidore was an odd guy who spent much of his time beautifying his home and yard. What is his preferred reading material? He obtained pieces of plate from the trash dumps!
The walls and ceilings, as well as the furnishings, are all coated with pottery, creating a stunning effect with a distinct enchantment.
# 8 The Bel-Air frescoes
What a treat it is to walk through the alleys of the Bel-Air neighborhood and uncover the more than 4000 m2 of frescoes! In all, 16 panels spanning whole facades allow visitors to appreciate in trompe-l’oeil scenes related to Chartres’ and the region’s character from four perspectives: agriculture, architecture, the river’s edge, ‘Eure, and the Cosmetic Valley.
Chartreuse art has also found additional supporters in the region, thanks to two local painters who painted frescoes on several electrical transformers.
A weekend would not be enough to visit everything, but our non-exhaustive list may be supplemented with many more beautiful locations, architecture, and cuisine. As you travel, you are free to make your own decisions. Thank you for stopping by!