Chartres: A Great Day Out From Paris

Paris is undeniably one of the best places to visit in Europe, if not the world, even for families with young children. But, as with any popular tourist destination, without some preparation your visit could so easily be a disappointment. While there is much to see and do, even off the well beaten paths, if you are visiting Paris, I strongly recommend taking a day trip or two out of the city.

One day trip well worth considering is a train or bus journey to Chartres to visit Cath̩drale Notre-Dame de Chartres. You may well be wondering why I suggest Chartres for those who are seeking to escape the throngs of tourists in Paris. Chartres is definitely one of those places that is World-renowned for one attraction Рand here it is the stunning cathedral, with its amazing carvings and medieval stained glass windows that have survived many wars.

Chartres is a beautiful town with some pretty medieval timber-framed buildings, and only about 60 kilometres outside of Paris. It is easy to get a train there, from Montparnasse train station for about €20, and so avoid the tour buses. Of course you should head to the Cathedral, but after your visit take some time to explore this wonderfully picturesque town that, were it not for the Cathedral, would be an average rural town in the French countryside.

There may well be many tourists visiting the Cathedral, but it really is worth a visit. The cathedral was built on a commanding hill on the left bank of the Eure River. From a distance, it looks as if it hovers above the surrounding wheat fields. There have been at least 5 Cathedrals on this site, all destroyed by war or fire. Of particular note are the amazing stained glass windows, some of which date back to the 13th century. During the Second World War these were removed from the cathedral to the countryside for safekeeping.

Other Paris day trips include Château de Compìegne, Le Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, the Palace of Versailles and Claude Monet’s house and Garden at Giverny.

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About Thomas Dowson

Hello, I am Thomas Dowson - a freelance writer and archaeologist living in Normandy, France. My field of expertise is prehistoric art - such as the cave paintings in the Dordogne and South Africa. But I am becoming passionately interested in France more generally, and Normandy in particular, and what this country and one of its very well known regions has to offer people with all sorts of tastes and desires. In 2005 I exchanged a university archaeology lecture room for a Bed & Breakfast in Normandy. More recently I started the Archaeology Travel website; sharing my expertise and love of archaeology and travel with others who also want to explore the many different pasts around the World.