23 Best Things To Do In Chartres, France

things to do in chartres france
Antonia
Antonia 
Updated

The city of Chartres, just to the south-west of Paris, is a destination filled with examples of architecture and nods to history that make it an excellent place to visit while in France. Famous for its huge, 13th-century Gothic cathedral, Notre Dame de Chartres, this is a city that has much to offer to any historian. Above all, though, there is plenty to keep you interested even if you’re not of an academic mindset. From modern waterparks to excellent gastronomic destinations, Chartres is one of Northern France’s best-kept secrets. Whether or not you’re a fan of art or history, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Chartres, France that will hold your interest. Keep reading to find out more that can make your stay worth your while.

1. View the works of the great masters at Musée des Beaux-Arts

Chartres - musée des beaux-arts (01)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Fab5669 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

In a country where fine art is so prized, this museum is one of the most revered, featuring classical examples of ancient and modern art from some of the most important names. The works of Vlaminck, Chardin, and others adorn the walls, but it’s not just paintings you’ll find on display here. The museum is also home to precious pieces, including a collection of 17th and 18th-century harpsichords, as well as other special exhibitions.

Musée des Beaux-Arts

Address: 29 Cloître Notre Dame, 28000 Chartres

Opening hours: Wed, Fri, Sat: 10am - 12:30pm, 2pm - 6pm; Thu: 10am - 12:30pm, 2pm - 8pm; Sun: 2pm - 6pm (closed on Mon & Tue)

Price: from 3.75 USD (3.40 EUR)

2. Take a charming stroll at Parc des Bords de l'Eure

France Eure et Loir Chartres Bords de l Eure
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user GIRAUD Patrick used under CC BY 2.5

Kids and adults alike will adore this park that is found - as the name suggests - on the banks of the river Eure, which flows through the town. This place is filled with fun things to do, including pleasant riverside walking trails and no shortage of animals to beguile children - as well as adults, if we’re honest. It also contains cafes where you can pick up something to eat and drink. The colours within the park, from the plants to the murals and buildings are really something to behold.

Parc des Bords de l'Eure

Address: 14 Rue du Faubourg la Grappe, 28000 Chartres

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 7:30am - 7pm; Sat: 8:30am - 7pm (closed on Sun)

3. Witness the finest in modern art at Prieuré Saint-Vincent


The world of art would demonstrably be a much poorer place without the contributions of creative French individuals. In Chartres, after all, you are but a short distance away from Paris, home to the Louvre and the city that housed the influential Paris commune. You’re also right on the doorstep of Prieuré Saint-Vincent, a gallery that holds some of the finest modern art you will ever see. This former monastery has been converted into a shrine to great art, which includes the work of great sculptors, canvas artists, and graffiti specialists.

Prieuré Saint-Vincent

Address: 12 Rue de la Porte Cendreuse, 28000 Chartres

Opening hours: Sat - Sun: 2pm - 7pm; Tue - Fri: 2pm - 6pm (closed on Mon)

4. Check out the city walls at Old Chartres Fortifications

Alluyes (Eure-et-Loir)
Source: Photo by user Daniel Jolivet used under CC BY 2.0

As with any historical part of France, Chartres has seen more than its share of military action in the distant and more recent past. These fortifications are no longer fully intact, unlike in the 14th century when they heroically defended the city. Much of the edifice was destroyed in 1944 when Nazi forces, retreating from the Allies, blew up Porte Guillaume. However, some of the exterior walls built to defend Chartres still stands in place, and it is definitely worth a visit when you’re in the city.

Old Chartres Fortifications

Address: Rue de la Porte Guillaume, 28000 Chartres

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

5. Witness astounding architecture at Chartres Cathedral (from USD 395.0)

No less an authority than UNESCO has described, Chartres Cathedral - known as “Notre Dame de Chartres”, is a masterpiece and is perhaps the most stunning example of French Gothic architecture. To make a long story short, if you appreciate fine architecture, then you must consider this to be the high point of any visit to the city. The tour allows you to access the cathedral by a chartered minivan from Paris, and you’ll get to skip the long queues. Any visit to France will be much improved by witnessing this amazing structure and the beauty of its interior.

Chartres Cathedral Half Day Private Tour from Paris

Duration: 4 hours

6. Have a good time at L'Odyssée


One of France’s premier water parks, L'Odyssée is far from just a fun spot to enjoy waterslides and various amusements. This is a venue that has, in the past, hosted World Cup swimming events. It can do that courtesy of its two Olympic-standard swimming pools that are a joy for swimmers both expert and amateur. In addition, there is a top-class ice rink on-site, meaning that you can get your skates on and enjoy cutting a dash, before trying out one of the excellent restaurants on the premises.

L'Odyssée

Address: Rue du Médecin Général Beyne, 28000 Chartres

Website: L'Odyssée

Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 10am - 9pm; Fri: 10am - 10pm; Sat - Sun: 9am - 7pm

Price: 8 USD (7.35 EUR)

7. Indulge a curiosity at Maison Picassiette

Maison Picassiette (30684640688)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Julien Chatelain used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The concept of Maison Picassiette may sound both strange and wonderful, but when you visit you’ll find that really, it’s just wonderful in a strange way. Prepare to witness a house that was bought in 1929 by a local graveyard attendant who, over a period of more than three decades, decorated the home’s exterior in a mosaic of tiles made from broken crockery. The name comes from a term used locally to mean “plate thief”. Picassiette was the nickname of Raymond Isidore, the artistic and eccentric graveyard attendant who created this enchanting attraction.

Maison Picassiette

Address: 22 Rue du Repos, 28000 Chartres

Opening hours: Mon, Wed - Sat: 10am - 12:30pm, 2pm - 6pm; Sun: 2pm - 6pm (closed on Tue)

Price: 6.75 USD (6 EUR)

8. Interact with history at Conservatoire de l'Agriculture - Le Compa


Considered to be one of the best and one of the most popular museums in the central region of France, Le Compa is an attraction that celebrates the agricultural history of France. Appealing to families, tourists, and students alike, the museum opened in 1990 and exhibits tools, machinery and vehicles dating across centuries. An innovative museum, Conservatoire de l'Agriculture makes learning about the past fun, interactive, and hugely evocative.

Conservatoire de l'Agriculture - Le Compa

Address: Pont de Mainvilliers, 28000 Chartres

Website: Conservatoire de l'Agriculture - Le Compa

Opening hours: Tue - Fri: 9am - 12:30pm, 1pm - 6pm; Sat - Sun: 2pm - 7pm (closed on Mon)

Price: 5.50 USD (5 EUR)

9. Admire the artistic beauty of Les Fresques de Bel Air


You may hear the words “post-war housing estate” and picture drab, functional buildings designed for convenience rather than beauty. Up until 2008, that would have been entirely fair when thinking of the Bel Air region of Chartres. Then, a local initiative resulted in the painting of stunning murals on the frontages of these apartment blocks. With designs chosen by the inhabitants of the buildings, the exterior is painted in the classic trompe l'oeil style to look like chapels, Wild West housing, and more besides.

Les Fresques de Bel Air

Address: 3-1 Allée des Saules, 28000 Chartres

10. Witness ancient educational ways at Musée de l'école de Chartres et d'Eure-et-Loir


Perhaps the most impressive thing about this museum of education in Chartres is the fact that it can get even the most resistant child to find interest in both history and schooling. Through a range of equipped classrooms, Musée de l'école de Chartres et d'Eure-et-Loir shows you how education has changed throughout the years, from the way subjects such as geography and mathematics have been taught to the different equipment that has arisen, become commonplace, and then obsolete all within a human lifetime. This is a truly fascinating way to spend an afternoon.

Musée de l'école de Chartres et d'Eure-et-Loir

Address: 12 Place Drouaise, 28000 Chartres

Website: Musée de l'école de Chartres et d'Eure-et-Loir

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 2pm - 5pm (closed on Sat & Sun)

Price: 3.85 USD (3.50 EUR)

11. Tempt your tastebuds at Le Café Serpente


Directly across from Chartres Cathedral, this classic, French bistro-style cafe is the ideal place to go for something to eat or drink after a morning of sight-seeing. The windows offer excellent views of the town square and also house collections of tea and coffee pots. With an extensive menu featuring French classics such as Croque Monsieur, crepes Suzette, and a wealth of other delicious pastries, you’ll be sure to find something on the menu to delight your tastebuds.

Le Café Serpente

Address: 2 Cloître Notre Dame, 28000 Chartres

Website: Le Café Serpente

Opening hours: 8am - 11:45pm (daily)

12. Tap into a world of taste at The Academy of Beer

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The epitome of a good night out in Chartres can be experienced with any visit to the Academy of Beer - or L'Academie de la Biere, to give it the name above the door. As the name suggests, they take beer very seriously here, with a selection of more than 200 bottled beers and at least 10 on tap. Whether you prefer a nice stout, IPA, lager, white beer, or anything else that takes your fancy, you’ll be catered to here. This establishment also offers bar snacks, rock music, and a chilled vibe you can be sure of an evening to remember.

The Academy of Beer

Address: 8 Rue du Cheval Blanc, 28000 Chartres

Website: The Academy of Beer

Opening hours: Tue - Wed: 5pm - 1am; Thu - Sat: 5pm - 2am (closed on Sun & Mon)

13. Admire stained glass at Centre international du vitrail

things to do in chartres france | admire stained glass at centre international du vitrail

The word “vitrail” is a French artistic term that translates to what English-speakers would recognise as “stained glass”, and this remarkable gallery is perhaps the world’s primary centre for this kind of art. Naturally, there is a strong religious theme to many of the exhibits, as one would expect in a cathedral town, but not all of the items on show are religious in nature. At the exterior, you will find glass trees painted in spectacular colours. You can also enjoy a class or two and learn how to make stained glass yourself.

Centre international du vitrail

Address: 5 Rue du Cardinal Pie, 28000 Chartres

Website: Centre international du vitrail

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 9:30am - 12:30pm, 1:30 - 5:45pm; Sat: 10am - 12:30pm, 2:30 - 5:45pm; Sun: 2:30 - 5:45pm

Price: 7.65 USD (7 EUR)

14. Enjoy a show amid superb surroundings at Theater of Chartres

Chartres, théâtre municipal 02
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Coyau used under CC BY-SA 3.0

France is an artistic country, and of course, their love for the arts extends far beyond the visual. So in one of the country’s artistic centres, it makes sense that there is a performing arts scene, too. Theatre of Chartres is a prestigious destination for lovers of the stage. The handsome exterior of the theatre is very much in keeping with the architecture style in town, while inside you can enjoy a wide programme of shows which includes dramatic performances of the works of Shakespeare, among many others.

Theater of Chartres

Address: Place de Ravenne, 28000 Chartres

Website: Theater of Chartres

15. Indulge in a passion for patisserie at Columbus Café & Co

things to do in chartres france | indulge in a passion for patisserie at columbus café & co

No day spent in a place like Chartres would be complete without a visit to a proper French patisserie, and fortunately, the delightful Columbus Cafe & Co exists to satiate your sweet tooth. Excellent coffee, either hot or iced, and a long list of toothsome pastries are always something to look forward to at the end of a visit to a gallery or church. There are thirty or more different types of muffin, a wide range of sandwiches, and many other sweet delights to be discovered here; plenty of encouragement to burn off a few calories with a walk to your next destination!

Columbus Café & Co

Address: 13 Rue Mathurin Régnier, 28000 Chartres

Website: Columbus Café & Co

Opening hours: Tue - Fri: 8am - 7pm; Sat: 8:30am - 7pm (closed on Sun & Mon)

16. Unwind at Jardins de l'Évêché

Chartres - jardin de l'Évêché (01)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Fab5669 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

These gardens, attached to the church of Saint-Andre, are among the most picturesque spots in a town filled with visual beauty. You can sit on one of the many benches and take a few moments to refresh, watch the world go by, and admire the perfectly curated lawns and flower beds. You can also take up a spot by the wall and look over the river Eure, or - depending on the time of your visit - enjoy one of the many open-air shows that take place here, including music, theatre, and more besides.

Jardins de l'Évêché

Address: 4 Tertre Saint-Nicolas, 28000 Chartres

Opening hours: 8am - 6pm (daily)

17. Dive deep into French history at Centre Des Monuments Nationaux


Located at the cathedral, this splendid art museum offers a look at items of historic significance to the country of France. Indeed, there are similar centres throughout the country, but the Chartres centre offers a look at statues, artefacts, and documents of artistic and historical relevance in a city that has a lengthy and worthwhile history. It’s a fine place to come and get your bearings, as you will find many attractions in Chartres, and this place will help you plan the rest of your itinerary.

Centre Des Monuments Nationaux

Address: 18 Cloître Notre Dame, 28000 Chartres

18. Have a picnic at Parc André Gagnon


A particularly attractive destination on any summer afternoon, Parc André Gagnon is especially famed around town for its array of stunning roses. Indeed, it’s known colloquially as “La Roseraie”. There are as many as 65 varieties of the famed romantic flower to be seen here, and there is also a play park for kids to enjoy, as well as plenty of lawns that are great for picnicking. Andre Gagnon, who gave his name to the park, was a former mayor of the city and member of the French Resistance. He died a hero in World War II.

Parc André Gagnon

Address: 6 Place Saint-Jean, 28000 Chartres, France

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 7:30am - 9pm; Sat - Sun: 8am - 9pm

19. Take a walk by Eure Riverside

Eure Chartres
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Tango7174 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

A tributary of the Seine, the river Eure flows through Chartres and is, without a doubt, one of the city’s most recognised attractions. A walk along the banks of this waterway will offer you a spellbinding setting in which to relax. With parks and regular cafes, you can spend some time here sitting and just enjoying the splendour that surrounds you. You will also find a few campsites where you can pitch a tent and spend a night under the stars in the tranquil environs of the river; it’s a relaxing place to fall asleep and a delight to wake up to.

20. See the light show at Église Saint-Pierre

Église Saint-Pierre et Cathédrale Notre-Dame - Nojhan - IMG 3475
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user nojhan used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The imposing Church of Saint-Pierre is one of Chartres’ most enduring attractions, offering high, domed ceilings and many examples of the stained glass art that is synonymous with the city. Visit during the day, and you’ll be astonished by the scope of the interior. Admire the beautiful architecture of this monument that has existed since the 7th century. At night, the exterior is lit up in a way that mirrors the stained-glass windows, making it a visual spectacle you won’t soon forget.

Église Saint-Pierre

Address: 6 Rue Pétion, 28000 Chartres

21. Take a tranquil trip with Le Petit Chart'Train

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Visitors to Chartres can walk around its charming streets and arrive at the many monuments of the town at their leisure, and it’s a good exercise for sure. However, if you’re feeling tired or just want to see things from another angle, booking a ride on Le Petit Chart'Train is an excellent way to see the city. This small ride takes you on a 35-minute guided tour of the city, day or night, and offers a commentary of the sights that you will see in any one of eight languages.

Le Petit Chart'Train

Address: 3 Rue de Bethléem, 28000 Chartres

Website: Le Petit Chart'Train

22. Cast an eye over the frescoes at Église Saint-Aignan de Chartres

Chartres - église Saint-Aignan, intérieur (03)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Fab5669 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

From the outside, Église Saint-Aignan de Chartres is pretty impressive - a 16th-century Renaissance Church that stands imposingly against the skyline with its stained-glass windows. It has stood up to the ravages of time admirably. Having been here for more than 500 years, it is still clean and solid outside. Inside, however, it’s even more bewitching, with high, painted walls and frescoes on the ceiling that are very much in keeping with the Chartres way of design.

Église Saint-Aignan de Chartres

Address: 12 Place de l'Étape au Vin, 28000 Chartres

23. Take a tour around Chartres' Old Town (from USD 441.43)

things to do in chartres france | take a tour around chartres' old town

There are few travel pleasures that match the wonder of a visit to an old French town. The charm of the architecture, along with the cobbled streets, make a short tour a wonderful way to spend your day. This is what you can experience when you take a trip into Chartres’ Old Town, with a tour that is centred around the magnificent Notre Dame de Chartres - France’s oldest cathedral. A guide will point out all of the fascinating historical landmarks, and at lunchtime, you can enjoy some delicious specialities from the locale before completing the tour and heading back to your accommodation.

Chartres Cathedral and Old Town: 6-Hour Tour from Paris

Duration: 6 hour

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Chartres is charming: Enjoy this delightful French city

Any town or city in France will deliver charming cafes and monuments to the city’s history - this goes without saying, given the culture of the nation. However, Chartres is far and away one of the most underrated places in the country, with a cathedral that is recognised as one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture not just in France but in all of Western Europe. This destination also features plenty of other similarly interesting buildings. And, of course, you won’t go hungry or thirsty with the excellent cafes listed above.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Antonia Kelly is a freelance writer based in Leicester, UK and she enjoys European travel as well as road trips closer to home. Her favourite domestic destinations include Snowdonia and the Brecon...Read more

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