Chartres or Versailles

May 7th, 2002, 10:19 AM
  #1  
Leah
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Chartres or Versailles

If you had to choose between Chartres or Versailles - and you wanted to see the most beautiful (not the most convenient) which of these two sights would you choose?
 
May 7th, 2002, 10:23 AM
  #2  
lee
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Easy choice. Been to both and loved both but Versailles hands down!
 
May 7th, 2002, 10:28 AM
  #3  
Louis Parent
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For raw "spiritualistic" beauty, the Chartres Cathedral offers more than Versailles. However, Versailles, while far from being ugly, offers more in terms of historical significance.
 
May 7th, 2002, 10:28 AM
  #4  
willis
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Well, unless you are really, really pressed for time I would do both. But, if I had to choose only one, I would have a hard time. Now, I assume you will be in Paris, so Versailles will be the most convenient...easy to reach by the RER train. You can also easily reach Chartes by train as well, just takes a while longer. The two are totally different. Chartes is a cathedral, with beautiful stained glass windows and is quite impressive. However, if your interest does not lean heavily to churches, then you can see equally beautiful windows in Paris churches. Versailles is a grand country palace, with impressive grounds. In fact, I think the grounds are more impressive than the interior of the building(s). If you like palaces and wonderful landscaping and gardens then go to Versailles. However, if you have time, do them both. I know this rambles but your question is difficult. Each is beautiful in its own way, but are totally different. Pick the one that most fits your interest - old church or old palace (the church is in fact much, much older).....have fun
 
May 7th, 2002, 10:31 AM
  #5  
elaine
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Hi
They are not at all the same experiences. Chartres Cathedral is one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen, and I've seen zillions. On a bright day the stained glass is awesome, and for once that word really applies. It casts gorgeous colors, especially blue, and the panels tell remarkable stories. Architecturally the cathedral is also unique, combining different styles. The labrinth in the stone floor is also very interesting, if it isn't covered over with chairs.
Also, Malcolm Miller's tours are full of fascinating perspectives on the building of the church. Unless you are a true scholar, the Cathedral and the town can be seen in half a day.

That said, Versailles is closer, but huge, sumptuous, over the top, decorated and furnished within an inch of its life, and is surrounded by gardens, fountains, outbuildings (miniature palaces really) and offers long walks and an unbeatable historical perspective on the French monarchy.
It can easily take a full day to fully do it justice. It's a secular wonder though, not a religous one.

If I were to make an absolute distinction, I'd say that Chartres's beauties are more subtle and on a much smaller scale than Versailles, but that's just my opinion. It's like
comparing one diamond to a whole handful.
 
May 7th, 2002, 10:39 AM
  #6  
Lily
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Elaine has given wonderful advice. Neither place is to be missed, but you really can't compare the two. In my personal opinion, Chartres was my favorite day trip that I've taken while in Europe. The cathedral is spectacular, and Malcolm Miller's tour is essential. He's an amazing character. Please, try to do both.
 
May 7th, 2002, 10:48 AM
  #7  
Leah
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Well, we are staying in Paris - but we only have 7 days. I have never been to Paris, and know there is much to see and do there. I have read that Versailles is a very popular spot and therefore crowded. Is the same true for Chartres? Given the amount of time we have, would you still do both? We're going the second week of June.
 
May 7th, 2002, 11:07 AM
  #8  
elaine
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Leah
just pick one based on the above information, or pick them out of a hat, or wait until you get to Paris. Plan one definitely and then see how your time goes--if you feel you can work in a second one, you can. You could plan one whole day for Versailles, and then if time permits you could schedule an additional half day later for Chartres.
You won't be wrong with either choice, and I suspect that no matter which one you pick you'll still be wondering about the other one. That happens to me all the time.
 
May 7th, 2002, 11:09 AM
  #9  
Louis Parent
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If you have a car,Versailles and Chartres can be seen in one day. Start with Versailles in the morning, then go to Chartres in the afternoon.
If you don't have a car, many bus tours are available from Paris that do Versailles and Chartres in the same day.
 
May 7th, 2002, 04:52 PM
  #10  
steve
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I would visit Chartres and certainly take Malcolm Miller's tour (twice if you can - it's different every time)

You will never look at a cathedral the same way again!
 
May 7th, 2002, 05:50 PM
  #11  
StCirq
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As others have noted, you're comparing apples and oranges here, and you really can't make a bad decision. But for my money (I've been to Chartres about 8 times and Versailles about 4), I'd pick Chartres. For one thing, you'll have sharper memories of it, as it's a smaller site with less to absorb. For another, it is more likely to influence more of your later wanderings in Europe, should there be more, than a visit to Versailles, which though not unique, is a pretty one-of-a-kind type of place. When I think back on what I learned from each place, what I learned from Chartres was more profound in terms of its applicability to the history of Europe, and for me Europe is one enormous history and anthropology lesson. Versailles is astonishing, jaw-dropping, excessive, "how could this be?" stuff; Chartres is a lesson in the unalterable faith of a world in which people who had very little to hope for by our standards today heartily believed that there was a greater world, and built amazing, soaring monuments to testify to their faith. And I'm not religious. But to understand Chartres in its rightful context is to truly understand the medieval mind. To visit Versailles is only to try to grasp the concepts of a greedy monarchy and droolatallitamassed The tours by Malcolm Miller at Chartres alone make it the better choice IMO.But really, you won't come away disappointed at either choice.
 
May 7th, 2002, 07:19 PM
  #12  
sandy c
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hi leah,

I loved chartres. Took the train there in about 40 minutes(??) and walked from the train station to the cathedral.

was absolutely fabulous, however, don't make the same mistake we did. we went on a monday or tuesday and most of the towns shops were closed. chartres has some wonderful shops and all we could do was stare longingly in the windows.

the cathedral also had something like a small museum and it was closed that day also.

I enjoyed versailles and would recommend seeing it at least once. I will be honest and say that I personally was disappointed in the interior tour, but the gardens and just looking at the building itself is impression. why was I disappointed?simply because it is a huge empty palace. most of the contents of the palace are gone (in museums, maybe stolen during the uprising etc).

so if I had my choice to go again I would pick chartres. this gave us a wonderful feeling of seeing the real france. it is very different compared to paris.

 

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