chartres cathredral

Hello, I noticed on the message board that some travelers were disappointed with their visit to Chartres Cathedral in France because of renovations where windows and other important viewing things were not available to see. I know that the Labyrinth is covered up except on Fridays starting in April. This is one things I wanted to see without the chairs as they were last time I went in 1989. I cannot find anything out about this topic so far on the web. Do you have any information about that ? Also, as far as I can see, the only way to Chartres is to go to Paris first and then go by train, bus, or plane. No direct routes other than that. We are leaving March 25 and could visit any time before April 8th. Thanks so much for your help. I think Rick and his team are the greatest ! Linda Kangas

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1759 posts

Quite a few cathedrals and churches are undergoing renovations. It would be a mistake not to visit a cathedral just because it may have some scaffolding inside or out. We have been to two of the famous European cathedrals several times and each time some kind of construction was going on. The same goes for train stations in Europe. Repair and reconstruction never seems to stop.

Posted by Alexander
Quad Cities, IL/IA
422 posts

Right on, Monty! I totally agree. Unless you're wanting to rent a car at CDG, the only way for you to get to Chartres would be via train (Montparnasse) or bus. I'm not familiar with getting there via bus, but what I always do (as Chartres is always my first stop after the airport) is take Les Cars Air France to Montparnasse and then jump on a train from there.

Posted by Dina
Fontainebleau, France
893 posts

"It would be a mistake not to visit a cathedral just because it may have some scaffolding inside or out." The problem is that at some points in time, the Chartres Cathedral wasn't covered by some scaffolding, it was covered by A LOT of scaffolding - making it impossible to see over 1/2 the Cathedral. And they didn't just put up scaffolding, they blocked off access and closed off large parts. You might have trouble visiting the Labyrinthe - according to the website, it's only open Friday afternoons during Lent. And that would mean this coming Friday, which is Good Friday. The public guided visits are cancelled on this day according to their website, not sure if access to the labyrinth will be changed.

Posted by Darren
Boulder, CO, USA
676 posts

I agree with Monty, to an extent. If you've not seen Chartre since '89, you'll likely still get something out of the visit. However, if the Labyrinth is the real focus of your trip and you're less interested in the rest, then maybe your time is best spent elsewhere (assuming that it won't be accessable). Scaffolding is one thing; 1/2 the cathedral under plastic is totally another. After all, your time in Europe is limited, and the cathedral has lasted this long, so it will likely be there the next time that you return.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
7377 posts

You can check the Chartres website for a progress report.

Posted by Denny
Columbus, OH, USA
1079 posts

I am learning to ask that question more often. Last year in Arles we dropped a bunch of euro to tour a cloister that was pretty much entirely veiled in covered scaffolding. Not a word was mentioned as we paid the entry fee. My problem, I know, and c'est la vie. Caveat visitor.

Posted by Betsy
Sugar Land, TX, United States
10 posts

Actually, the Chartres website doesn't have any information about the status of the renovation, nor can I find any information anywhere else. I read posts from several months ago that indicated that there was quite a bit of the cathedral loaded up with scaffolding. We're trying to decide whether to make Chartres a day trip (if there's limited access) or an overnight (if there's more to see). I'd be grateful for any insights. We'll be there in early June. Thanks,

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
1626 posts

Ray may be thinking of Ste-Chapelle in Paris, which is in a police/courthouse complex. It's where they have the happy trials! ;)

Posted by Betsy
Sugar Land, TX, United States
10 posts

I emailed Rick Steves' offices in the hope that they might have some info. All I got was a response suggesting I read up on the tours they have that include Chartres. My question about the restoration progress wasn't addressed. I've ended up marking that as an optional day trip and just staying an extra day in Paris. Surely once we're in France we can get an update.

Posted by gone
2081 posts

hi, if that is the church near the courthouse with alot of security, it was partially closed for remodeling during my trip last march. even with its partial closure, the one area open to tourist was beautiful and just makes me want to go back to see more when its open. happy trials.

Posted by Karen
Sacramento, CA, USA
31 posts

Hello! I was just in Chartres to see the catherdral at the end of March (Easter Week). Indeed there is some restoration work going on but you can still see the windows. While I was there the scaffolding was covering some of the area near the choir. I was there on a Wednesday and the labryinth was indeed covered with chairs. :( I did not realize that they moved the chairs on Fridays! We would have changed our plans to a Friday for sure. We were quite disappointed in that. However, it was still one of my favorite days on our trip. We also took RS's walking tour of the town and had a wonderful time. Loved it.

Posted by Betsy
Sugar Land, TX, United States
10 posts

Thanks, Karen. I appreciate getting a first hand report!