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Built in the 16th century, this Renaissance-style mansion belonged to the apothecary Claude Huvé and his family. It is attributed to the renowned architect Philibert Delorme, who is famous for designing several French châteaux, the tomb of François 1er at Basilique Saint-Denis, and a section of the Louvre in Paris. Although relatively small (and less important than other works), this mansion is beautifully decorated with Renaissance-style figurines and motifs. It was among the first few structures in Chartres to be classified as a historic monument, in 1862. Since 1953, it has housed a bookshop, and its staff would happily let you in to take a look at the interior architecture. The main entrance of the mansion has been transformed into a window. (The mansion is sometimes also referred to as "Logis Claude Huvé").
Updated Dec 14, 2012
Address: 10 rue Noël-Ballay
The only remaining vestige from the wall that once enclosed the Cathedral is this lone arched gateway sandwiched between two buildings. Known as la Port Saint-Yves, this gateway was built along with the rest of the enclosure in 1327 to isolate the Cathedral and the monks from the outside world. The enclosure was pierced by nine different doors, and Port Saint-Yves led directly to the northern entrance of the Cathedral. Overtime, the enclosure wall disappeared as buildings rose along its path, which can still be traced by rue du Cardinal-Pie to the north, and rue du Cloître Notre-Dame to the south.
Updated Oct 3, 2012
Address: rue du Cardinal-Pie
Older than the northern façade by 3 years (i.e. completed in 1227), the southern façade of the transept is very similar in style. Its central features are also the intricately carved triple arched portal and the large rose window above it, which vary slightly in style from the northern counterpart. Here, the statues within the Gothic arches depict scenes from the New Testament with the Last Judgement as the centrepiece. The stained glass windows above the portal depict the Glorification of Christ and the Apocalypse. When I visited in Dec 2011, the upper part of this façade had recently been cleaned and restored, but the portal itself was blackened by years of pollution. Perhaps it will be next in the slow ongoing restoration process...
For more photos of the southern façade, take a look at the travelogue: "la Cathédrale de Chartres: Façade Sud."
Updated Feb 4, 2012
An elaborately decorated triple arched Gothic portal and a magnificent rose window are the central features of the northern façade of the Transept of the Cathedral of Chartres. It was completed around 1230 AD, only a few years after the southern façade. The three arches within the portal contain intricately carved statues depicting scenes from the Old Testament and the life of the Virgin Mary before the birth of Jesus. Similar scenes are also depicted in the stained glass of the rose window and the five lancets beneath it, all originals. The portal on this side led directly to Porte Saint-Yves, the only remaining gate in the enclosure that once surrounded the Cathedral. On my visit on the 28th December 2011, the southern portal had been recently restored and was free of grime, making it easier to appreciate the sculptures.
For more photos of the northern façade, take a look at the travelogue: "la Cathédrale de Chartres: Façade Nord."
Updated Feb 4, 2012
Built in the 12th century and expanded in the 14th, Église Saint-André has conserved many of its original Romanesque details. Most impressive is its triple arched portal on the façade with typical Romanesque carvings. The 14th century renovation added the Gothic details such as the side windows and the second level of the façade. When it was originally built, the back of the church lay over the River Eure, but the path of river shifted over the centuries. After the French Revolution, the church was deconsecrated and slowly fell into decay, and for a period of time afterwards, it was used as a shop and a warehouse. Unfortunately, it lies vacant nowadays, with no access to the ruined interior (at least when I visited in Dec 2011). Note that Saint-André was built on the site of the Roman Theatre of Chartres, whose curvature is traced by rue du Cloître Saint-André. Likely, the church was built using stones from the ruins of the Roman Theatre itself.
Updated Feb 2, 2012
Address: Place Saint-André
Known as Maison de la Voûte (House of the Vault) because of its interior vaulted arches, this edifice is among the oldest surviving in Chartres. It was built in the 12th century as a warehouse for salt, an important commodity in those days. Beautiful Gothic windows decorate the façade, while the interior consists of a large open space supported by high vaulted arches resting on a lone Corinthian column. The building was classified as a historic monument in 1966. It is nowadays used as a boutique, so you can pretend to be shopping for clothes to go in for a peek. I'm sure you won't be the first...
Updated Jan 27, 2012
Address: Place du Cygne
Once a grand Romanesque edifice, the former church, Église Sainte-Foy, is nowadays a fraction of its original size. A lone portal with beautiful Romanesque features is all that is left of the original façade, and stands as a reminder of the extent of the original structure. The small extant chapel beyond the small garden - nowadays used as a boutique - was merely the choir and apse of the church, and has been much modified over time. The earliest historic mention of Sainte-Foy comes in the early 11th century by Fulbert de Chartres, the bishop of the Cathedral of Chartres, who used to visit Chapelle Sainte-Foy. In the 13th century, it became a parochial church, but by 1793 it had been deconsecrated and abandoned. Subsequently, it was converted into a public theatre, which resulted in the destruction of the façade and the first four bays of the nave. Only the Romanesque portal was kept, which served as the entrance to a new structure built in the cleared area, while the surviving choir and apse served as the actual stage. Although the theatre stopped functioning in 1806, it was not until 1971 that the added structure was destroyed and the former church was preserved as a historic landmark. A small garden was created where the four bays of the nave had stood.
Updated Jan 27, 2012
Address: rue Famin
No other Mediaeval cathedral in Europe has conserved as many of its original stained glass windows as has the Notre-Dame de Chartres. These windows - 176 in total light up the interior - constitute one of its most celebrated features. The triple lancet windows in the western façade belonged to the previous 12th century Romanesque cathedral, and are the oldest (c. 1150), having miraculously survived the fire of 1194 AD. Similarly, the famous "Notre-Dame de la Belle Verrière" windows (1180) were recovered from the previous cathedral and placed in the southern apse. Otherwise, the rest were mostly executed between 1200 and 1225, with the exception of a few replacements (grisailles in the choir and apse) and later additions (such as those in the Saint-Piat and Vendôme chapels). The transition from Romanesque architecture and its thick supporting walls (thus small windows) to Gothic architecture with flying buttresses for support, allowed openings in the walls to be filled with windows to light up the interior. This provided a medium for coloured glass art to flourish in Europe in the 13th century onwards, and Chartres became known for it and gave us the term "bleu de Chartres". The upper windows of the Cathedral, being further away from the sight of worshipers, are less detailed and typically show a large image of one or two saints. The lower windows, closer to the eyes, are far more intricate and illustrate various Biblical scenes in detail to help educate the largely illiterate population of Mediaeval Europe. During WWII, the windows were painstakingly removed for safekeeping in the countryside, and were only returned after the liberation of Chartres.
Attached are photos of the three magnificent rose windows (1150 - 1230), the windows in Chapelle Vendôme (1417), and a few in the choir area.
For more detailed photos of The stained glass windows of Chartres, take a look at the travelogue: "les Vitraux de la Cathédrale de Chartres".
[Note: when I visited in Dec 2011, the entire ambulatory and apse areas were undergoing restoration and were inaccessible, so I was unable to see the windows in the back of the church.]
Updated Jan 26, 2012
Measuring 130 metres in length, 46 metres in width, and 37 metres in height, the interior of la Cathédrale de Chartres ranks among the largest cathedrals in France, even larger than la Notre-Dame de Paris. Although the foundation, crypt and floor plan belonged to its Romanesque predecessor (built between 1020 and 1037), the interior mostly conforms to a single high-Gothic style completed within 26 years beginning in 1194, and has since survived largely intact. However, this did not prevent a few subsequent changes from adding later Gothic styles, among them are Chapelle Saint-Piat and its Gothic entrance (1325), la Chapelle Vendôme (1417), the organ (1325, modifed in 1475 and 1542), the intricately carved rood screen around the choir (1514 onwards), and the jube wall (1757). In addition to its singular style and excellent state of preservation, the interior is celebrated for several architectural marvels. Foremost are its stunning 176 stained glass windows, most of which are 13th century originals (see separate tip). Other items include the 13th century floor Labyrinth, which pilgrims conducted on their knees, the aforementioned breathtaking rood screen designed by Jehan de Beauce, the Romanesque crypt (open only twice daily via a guided tour), the statue of Notre-Dame du Pilier (1540), and of course the treasure containing the Sancta Camisia (not open to the public). The interior of the cathedral was one of the darkest I have visited (more so because of the foggy weather), which made photography rather difficult, but it is left deliberately dim to allow its stunning windows to glow, particularly on sunny days. Years of candle-burning have also blackened the walls and ceiling, which are slowing being restored to their original white colour, as seen in the apse and the inner western façade.
For photos of some of the objects mentioned, take a look at the travelogue: "Notre-Dame de Chartres: Interior."
Updated Jan 24, 2012
Raised between the years 1134 and 1160, the main façade of la Cathédrale de Chartres predates the body of the structure. It belonged to the previous Romanesque-style Cathedral, which was destroyed by fire in 1194, but this western façade and its two towers miraculously survived, along with the stained glass windows in the triple lancets above the portal. During the construction of the actual cathedral, between 1194 and 1220, only the large rose window and la Galerie des Rois (the row of statues of kings) above it were added to the façade. However, in its original state, it was topped by two nearly-identical towers, but a lightning strike destroyed the northern tower in 1506, and it was subsequently rebuilt in a Flamboyant Gothic style by the architect Jehan de Beauce, hence the mismatched towers. Otherwise, the rest of the façade is considered late Romanesque in style, but it exhibits the initial transition to early Gothic style especially in the use of pointed arches. This façade was likely inspired by the slightly older façade of Basilique Saint-Denis, which it resembles (in Saint-Denis, near Paris). In fact, the rose window and the triple portal (Portail Royal), with its intricately carved statues in the jambs, were a clear borrowing from Saint-Denis, one of the first churches to use such features. The splendid Portail Royal contains late-Romanesque sculptures detailing different aspects of Christ and is the main entrance into the Cathedral.
For more photos of the western façade, check out the travelogue: "la Cathédrale de Chartres: Façade Occidentale."
Updated Jan 21, 2012
1 Review and 102 Opinions The hotel is well situated for seeing all of Chartres (including the cathedral), and is...
2 Reviews and 131 Opinions Very happy with this hotel for my situation. Took the train from Paris and was able to walk (perhaps...