The City of Chartres

Welcome to Chartres Cathedral, probably the finest example of French Gothic architecture and said by some to be the most beautiful cathedral in France.

Chartres is a commercial city located in north central France, on the Eure River, about 80 km southwest of Paris.

It is the capital of the department of Eure-et-Loir and the most important town in the Beauce district, a rich farming area that is known as the “granary” of France.

Cattle raising and some market gardening are also carried on. Tourism is now a major component of the local economy, partly due to the Chartres Cathedral.

Besides the Chartres Cathedral, the former Benedictine abbey church of St Pierre was rebuilt from the 12th century, it is especially notable for its fine late 13th-century and 14th-century glass.

The population of Chartres is less than 40,000 and it is dominated by the gothic cathedral.

History of Chartres

Chartres was an important center in pre-Roman Gaul. Even back then, it was one of the sacred places of the Celtic druids.

Chartres was overrun by the Normans in the ninth century A.D., the region later became a countship controlled by Blois and Champagne. Late in the 13th century, King Philip III the Bold of France took possession of Chartres.

During the Middle Ages, Chartres prospered because the cathedral possessed a precious relic: a piece of oriental silk believed to be the veil worn by the Virgin Mary during the birth of Jesus Christ.

Chartres therefore became an important pilgrimage site, and the chapter of the cathedral established trade fairs to coincide with the feasts of the Virgin.

→ Visit Chartres