3 couples visiting Chartre

Jul 3rd, 2006, 09:02 PM
  #1  
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3 couples visiting Chartre

We are 3 couples traveling together in Paris and would like to take a day trip to Chartres. I know we can take a train but I was wondering if there are van tours or shuttles available. Would it be quicker to be driven the distance or take the train? Thanks
mkdiebold is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2006, 09:06 PM
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Chartres is just a commuter train ride out of Gare Montparnasse.
kerouac is online now  
Jul 3rd, 2006, 09:33 PM
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Take the train. 70-minute ride for E12.70 each way.
TimS is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2006, 09:51 PM
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The train is quicker and a heck of a lot cheaper than the guided tours out of Paris.
janisj is online now  
Jul 3rd, 2006, 10:35 PM
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I spoke no French but was able to buy a ticket and make it down to Chartres no problem at all. I enjoyed the English tour there at that time.
5alive is online now  
Jul 4th, 2006, 07:52 AM
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Definitely take the train to Chartres-centre ville (town center). A car would have to deal with Paris traffic!

If you have any questions at Gare Montparnasse, look for the station employees who roam the floor at the Grandes Lignes level; they're there to help.

FYI, if you reserve your ticket ahead of time, you cannot use the automated machines to retrieve it unless your credit card has a chip like the European ones do. Go to the ticket window instead; in my experience, the line moves quickly. Also don't forget that your ticket needs to be "composted" (stamped to prove you boarded where and when your ticket states): look for orange posts with a "composter" sign above them, typically located just before the entrance to the platforms. Slide one end of your ticket into the slot. The stamp is a small number in purple ink.

When you get to Chartres, the cathedral is a short walk uphill from the station; you'll see its spires as soon as you exit the station.

Also, I don't know if you are looking for a guided tour of Chartres. If you are, Malcolm Miller is the best English-language guide, though he's not part of the church staff. I believe he gives tours 6 days a week at noon and 2-ish, 10€. (Google him for more specifics.)
ggreen is offline  
Jul 4th, 2006, 11:22 AM
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Thank you one and all, for your responses. Guess we'll be taking the train! Thanks ggreen, for your detailed explaination of buying and validating our tickets.Sounds fairly easy.

Another question: Should we plan on spending the entire day in Chartres? If so, are there any good-value recommendations for moderately priced restaurants? Thanks again!
mkdiebold is offline  
Jul 4th, 2006, 11:46 AM
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No personal experience to draw on, but here are the restaurant recommendations from my Lonely Planet Paris guidebook:

Cafe Serpente. Salads and omelettes. Atmospheric brasserie and salon de the (tearoom) conveniently located opposite the cathedral.

La Passacaille. Welcoming Italian place with particularly good pizzas and fresh pasta.

Le Grill Pelagie. A popular place specializing in grills and Tex-Mex dishes.

Le Tripot. A wonderful little place just down from the cathedral and one of the best bistros in Chartres.

TimS is offline  
Jul 4th, 2006, 12:01 PM
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We ate at La Passacaille last Friday and it was very good. They have a/c (although I think they were using their overhead fans when we were there) and a non-smoking section downstairs. Here's their website for prices:

http://www.lapassacaille.fr/carte.php

We arrived in Chartres at 9:15 and took a 4:00 o'clock train back to Paris. We toured the Cathedral using the 45-minute audio guide (good overview--you may need to take a guided tour if you want more depth or purchase one of the available guides) and then visited on our own to take photographs.

We also took a walking tour of the town using the "touristique trail" (marked w/red signs), although we did not stop to shop, ate lunch as noted above, and visited the stained glass museum behind the Cathedral (a gem). We had time for an afternoon drink and then a leisurely stroll back to the train.

Depending on your schedule and interests I think you could spend 1/2 day or a full day. Enjoy!

mvor is offline  
Jul 4th, 2006, 02:33 PM
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Thank you, thank you! I'd forgotten the name of that excellent little Italian restaurant, just a few blocks down from the cathedral if I remember correctly. We ate there on our first trip to Chartres, then again with a friend. I couldn't remember the name or even the street, but as we walked down the street below the cathedral and all of a sudden I felt at one point that we needed to turn right--and there the restaurant was.
Underhill is online now  
Jul 4th, 2006, 05:11 PM
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I'm bookmarking this for future. In my many trips to France, I still haven't made it to Chartres - but am determined to do so next time.
Sue4 is offline  
Jul 4th, 2006, 05:57 PM
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Chartes was a highlight of our trip to Paris a few years ago. The train is simple as can be and for lunch just wander around the pretty, charming town until you find something that suits you. Oh, and try to get a guided tour of the cathedral.

John
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Jul 4th, 2006, 06:18 PM
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Wow! Such valuable information! Merci beaucoup! (That and "bonjour" are about the extent of my 3 years of French in high school and college. I should have paid better attention!!)
mkdiebold is offline  
Jul 4th, 2006, 07:20 PM
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Don't miss the tour of the crypt. You get tickets, I think, at the bookshop (very nice gift things) on the right side at the back of the cathedral--outside, I mean. There's also an excellent view from the gardens behind the apse.
Underhill is online now  
Jul 4th, 2006, 08:17 PM
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Underhill: My Rick Steve's book says that the crypt can only be viewed with the French tour. Is that correct? I cannot imagine taking a tour in French. With my limited language skills, why bother. Please advise.
mkdiebold is offline  
Jul 4th, 2006, 09:23 PM
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I've never taken the tour of the crypt so I can't speak to that, but I will make another plug for Malcolm Miller.

He's really amazing and has been studying Chartres for decades. I first had the pleasure of one of his tours when I was a college student, and in my return trips to Paris have taken anyone who is interested ever since. This last trip, I wanted to tell him I had first taken his tour 19 years ago - but the woman in front of me beat me to the punch by saying she'd first seen him 24 years ago! I kept quiet after that!

I will say that since he's getting older, he seems a bit more sprightly in the first tour of the day, and probably earlier in the week the better. But he's not to be missed, regardless - he relates so many of the stories that the stained glass and stone carvings carry in them, and he's a born speaker in his lecturing style.

One other thing: the stained glass at Chartres is very beautiful, but be forewarned that some of it has been taken out for an extensive restoration project. There is still plenty to see and well worth the day trip!
ggreen is offline  
Jul 6th, 2006, 06:07 PM
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mkdiebold, I forgot to remind you to bring your binoculars (I'm sure that's obvious but just incase). If you're an animal lover, be on the look out for the two moggies who stand guard at the Cathedral.

Underhill, your directions are correct, of course! The owner, staff and food were lovely--especially the grilled vegetables and the cassis sorbet...so simple, yet wonderful.
mvor is offline  
Jul 6th, 2006, 08:20 PM
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You can pick up a guide book for the crypt--you don't need to know France to be able to look at the crypt as the tour goes through. Your eyes will be more than adequate to the task, and it's really worth seeing the crypt in any way that you can.
Underhill is online now  
Jul 6th, 2006, 08:24 PM
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Well, that should have been "know French" instead of "know France."
Underhill is online now  

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