Chartres Travel Guide

Chartres is a beautiful ancient city of France on the river Eure, 96 kilometers from Paris, on the slopes of a hill among a flat plain. The name of the city comes from the name of its first inhabitants – Karnuts. Before the Roman conquest, it was one of the religious centers of Gaul. In the 9th century, it was repeatedly attacked by the Vikings (Normans). In the Middle Ages, the title of Count of Chartres was carried by the leaders of Champagne.
In 1286 it was bought into the royal domain. The title of Duke of Chartres has been held by various relatives of French kings since Princess René. In 1594, the first king of the Bourbon dynasty, Henry IV, was crowned in Chartres. Above the old part of the city, on a hill, rises the famous Gothic Cathedral of Notre Dame, built in record time (1194-1220) and possessing the richest sculptural decoration.

Chartres Travel Guide, city tour

Chartres lower city (“downtown”), M.B. photo coleection

Notre-Dame de Chartres Cathedral attracts pilgrims and tourists from all over the world.

Chartres Travel Guide, city tour Cathedral Notre Dame

Notre Dame de Chartres, the Cathedral, M.B. photo collection

Fragments of the history of the city of Chartres and the Cathedral of Our Lady.
“Circles of Light Notre Dame de Chartres”. The knightly order of St. Michael the Archangel never found its justification in Mont Saint-Michel, because because of the distance it was difficult for the knights to travel 360 kilometers once a year, and therefore the order ended up in the capital of France, where the Montmartre miracle also pleases with white beauty – “Sacré Coeur” and the famous “Notre Dame de Paris”. And the circle of time continues its movement, giving our imagination the opportunity to penetrate the secrets, and we will continue our paths-roads in dreams and in reality – 90 kilometers southwest of Paris there is the Church of Notre Dame, no less mysterious than in the capital itself and it is located in Chartres, in the once ancient place of central Gaul, which was inhabited by the Celtic tribe of Carnuts, worshiping the ancient spirits of nature, otherwise practicing druidism. It was on their sanctuary that the first church was laid in Carnutium (Chartres), created where there had previously been a dolmen, a well and a burial ground. Earlier there, the priests of Gaul even opened a training center where they initiated into their art, and they had a revelation, after which they created a wooden statue of a virgin with a baby and began to worship her. … Christians were then persecuted throughout the Roman Empire, but having found this image made of wood in the 3rd century, they began to venerate her as the “Black Virgin”, and a church was built in honor of the Virgin Mary at the location. The ancient figurine itself, according to legend, died during the French Revolution, because then the “enlightened revolutionaries” created idols for themselves, and tried to destroy Christian shrines. But Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and historical memory could not be taken away. Ten years after the mutual excommunication of each other by Patriarch Photius of Constantinople and Pope Nicholas of Rome, it was in Chartres in 876 that the Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Sancta Camisa) appeared, according to legend, this priceless Protection was transferred by King Charles the Bald, who reigned at that time, the grandson of Emperor Charlemagne , during the consecration of another church in Chartres, which his famous grandfather received as a gift from the Byzantine Empress Irina. The spiritual battle for this holy place is expressed in fire – fires rule here, the first cathedral burns in 1020, after which a Romanesque cathedral with a huge crypt was erected. Read more about the Cathedral and its history..
It was here, and not as it was then customary in Reims, that Henry IV, the first Bourbon on the royal throne of France, was crowned. And in the following centuries, the spiritual battle for the holy place did not stop – fires, wars and historical upheavals, everything happened and everything passed, and Chartres Cathedral survived and survived to this day, and right up to the 20th century. was not just a historical monument, but also a center of religious pilgrimage and a stronghold of French Catholicism.

Lower city walking tour.
Contrary to popular belief, Chartres is not only a cathedral, widely known throughout the world among tourists. According to experts, the most interesting place in Chartres is the lower city. Actually, it can also be attributed to the infrastructure of the Cathedral, houses and fortress walls, its surrounding, old buildings. But in reality it is a whole city-fortress. For some reason, there are few tourists here (they don’t know, apparently 🙂), but there are many interesting places. We already wrote that “individual” tours in micro-groups are now being strongly offered at reduced prices, but which are really group tours. Tours with such “guides” and “experts” naturally include only a quick tour of the city (upper) and the Cathedral and do NOT include a walking tour of the lower city. If you ordered a real individual tour from Paris to Chartres, then you can see this historical part of the city, shown below in the photo album. Fortress, large castle and fortification.
For some reason, everyone forgets that any ancient city in France was built as a large fortress, castle and reinforced fortified area. All tourists, as a rule, walk around the upper city, also ancient and interesting, inspect the Cathedral, but only a small part visits the lower city. If you don’t know about it, you will circle around the cathedral and never guess to go through difficult paths through narrow streets, old steep stairs, various labyrinths and exit to the lower city. Reviews.

How to get to the city of Chartres.

  • Private guide tours by a car from Paris or airport Charles de Gaulle, Orly and Beauvais, from Disneyland.