The great Rodin once said something like:
"We can come and pray to God in Chartres like everywhere, since He is everywhere;
but we can also come and contemplate the creativity and talent of man
who reveals himself there in his genius and who, in this aspect, is not everywhere"…
Chartres cathedral and town revealed!
This tour runs like this:
9 AM: depart by train from Paris Montparnasse station.
10 AM: arrive at Chartres station. Walk to Cathedral (15 mn max of flat walking)
with a first viewing from a distance.
Then we'll go back up to the cathedral and one street will be a little steep:
That's a small and totally worthwhile effort if you ask me, but it can be avoided if you prefer to stay at a very pleasant café (with a very nice outdoor terrace overlooking the cathedral in spring/summer) for about 45mn while I bring the rest of the group on that short walking tour. Back at the Cathedral, I will describe and explain each of the incredible 9 UNIQUE doorways. That takes an hour. Yes, an hour that will fly by!
12:30 PM: after we have circled our territory, we will have a nice break (1h30)
for lunch (not included but very good options nearby).
2 PM: only after lunch will we (at last) enter and discover the inside of the cathedral. I will tell you about the architecture, the stained glass, the relic (Veil of the Virgin) and give you a full explanation of the labyrinth:
4:30 PM: after an extravanganza of very rich, detailed, fun and amazing anecdotes,
we will head back to the train station for the 4:50 train which arrives in Paris at 5:50 PM.
But, if you ask too many questions (and you let me answer them),
we can catch a later train (our tickets are open and there are frequent departures).
But - I have another option: why don't you spend the night in Chartres? I'll give you your open-ended return train ticket and recommend good places for dinner and a hotel within walking distance of the Cathedral.
(I can already hear some of you say, "but then why don't you do your tour on a Friday so that we can see the labyrinth at its best"?! Indeed I could, but I won't. Yes, you can see the labyrinth more easily on Fridays, but since so many other people want to see it as well the church is much more crowded and noisy, making it an unpleasant and decidedly non-spiritual experience. That's why I choose to run this tour on Thursdays to give you the opportunity to return on your own on Friday.)
I couldn't agree more. This cathedral is decorated with 3500 sculptures on the walls and 26,000 square-feet of stained glass. Of course a one-and-a-half-hour guided tour on the spot (that you could easily sign up for
at the tourist office) is better than nothing but it just has time to scratch the surface.
After that tour, you will have seen and admired most of (but far from all) the grounds but you will not have understood all the Whys and the incredible Hows. 90 minutes for me is just enough time
to speak to you only about the stained glass windows! And no, it's not too much time (unless, of course,
you don't like stained glass) because each window has an incredible story of its own and illustrations of around no less than 30 corporations of workers (bakers, shoe-makers, carpenters, masons ...) who wanted
to appear as donors and who still all have messages and stories of their every day life to tell!
Operating by train on Thursdays, train ticket included
Duration: 9 hours
€1050 for 1 - 3 people
€1150 for 4 - 5 people
6 and above, €200 per person
Subscription link added soon! In the meantime, please contact me.
Operating by car/van
Customizable any day of the week
€1500 for 1 - 3 people by car
€1900 for 4 - 6 people by van
To truly understand and appreciate the cathedral, we'll need to get acquainted with the town.
First we'll walk around the former fortified wall of the Cathedral's cloister so that you can understand the interactions between the canons of the Cathedral and the rest of the town, mainly with the local Count and the no-longer-existing castle nearby. Next we'll walk just a bit further in town so that you can see that the Cathedral was built at the top of a rocky overhang (something you have no clue of if you come directly by car, bus or train). We'll talk about the rivalry between the upper town of the "elite" and the lower town, 90 feet below near the river, where the lower (literally) classes (the tanners, butchers...) could practice their messy and stinky trades. Thankfully the present day lower town,
with its old houses and wash houses along the river, is very pleasant to discover!
West Royal doorway
Did I mention that the restoration works which have been done over the last 20 years are just magnificent?
Can you tell which parts have been restored and which haven't?
Those pictures were taken in 2017. It's (almost) all done now!!!
And my little finger tells me that you will go back to see that not-so-easy-to-find sculpture of
a captured soul that I for fun like to refer to as the Phantom of the Cathedral!
That way you can have a relaxing evening, see the stunning illuminations and be able to pop back into the Cathedral the next morning to see the labyrinth which they uncover each Friday (from March to October).