Chartres Itinerary for BCiP Guided Visit 27th April, 2019

Chartres, itinerary by Michael Barker

Some 90 kms south-west of Paris (one hour by train from the Gare de Montparnasse), within the flat lands of the Beauce, the granary of France, this mediaeval town is not large but posseses one of the great Gothic cathedrals of France and has many other attractions, mostly within a quite easy walking distance within its compact centre. One arrives at the smart modernist station of 1933 by Henri Pacon, though somewhat modernised since. Opposite is the chic Hôtel Jehan de Beauce (named after the cathedral’s architect) of 1930 with ceramic decoration. Via  Rue Fessard to a fine monument to Louis Pasteur of 1903 by Paul Richer, its bronze relief a recast after the original was melted down by the Nazis. Boulevard Maurice Violette:  the former Post Office (now the Médiathèque), an immense building of 1923-28 by Raoul Brandon where his late Art Nouveau architecture combines with its jolly Art Déco exterior mosaics by Pierre Vaillard on postal themes. The original interiors now lost. Opposite is a monument of 1948 in red granite by Marcel Courbier to heroic Resistance hero Jean Moulin (born 1899, prefet at Chartres when war commenced in 1940, tortured and assassinated by the Gestapo in 1943. Less well known is that he was a talented artist under the pseudonym of Romanin, it not deemed suitable for a state official  to publically be an artist. Entitled Glaive Brisédepicting a fist grasping a broken sword.Nearby is a discreet bronze plaque recording the entrance of Patton’s American troops relieving the town in August 1944. De Gaulle also visited the town that month.

Rue Collin d’Harteville: the ancient Eglise Ste Foy with its Romanesque arch. No 11: 14c sculpted doorway, possibly the entrance to a Jeu de Paume. Opposite is the 18c Préfecturewith a plaque recording Jean Moulin. Place Général de Gaulle: no 15 is a curious neo-Gothic house in polychrome brick. Place des Epars: bronze statue of François Marceau, revolutionary general who died aged 27. Of 1851 by Auguste Préault. The Grand Hôtel Monarque is an historic inn (its restaurant is One-Star Michelin). Rue Noel Ballay: at no 10 a Renaissance building (ex Maison du Médecin Huvé), attributed to Philibert Delorme with much sculpture. Place du Cygne no 19: Maison de la Voûte) a former grenier de sel with a 12c crypt. 

Place Marceau: obelisk of 1801 again commemorating François Marceau, the revolutionary 

VISIT the Cathedral. One of the glories of French Gothic architecture, noted for its extensive mediaeval stained glass and sculpture. The fifth to be built in the quite short time from 1194 until 1220. It survived the French Revolution. Of its contrasting spires, the northern one was rebuilt in Flamboyant Gothic in 1506 following destruction by lightning. Notable things to see are the astronomical clock and the labyrinth in which the faithful trace a path. The English guide Malcolm Miller has been on duty since 1958!

VISIT Centre Internationale du Vitrail: (10-12.30/14.30-17.45)in l’Enclos de Loens, a mediaeval former tithe house.

Visit Musée des Beaux Arts: (entrance free) housed the in the fine 17c former Bishop’s palace (10-12.30/14-17h) with much to see including early enamels, mediaeval sculpture, Madame de Pompadour’s collection of globes, much modern art and glass. The 17c garden too is notable.

Rue du Cheval Blanc no 19: Le Pichet Trois restaurant with 1900 ceramic decoration. Note wall painting of Jean Moulin.

LUNCH  at Place Jean Moulin no 26: the Hôtel de Champrond, a late 15c mansion with its ancient gateway, at Le Molière, the rated Salon du Thé. Tél 02 37 99 86 33. contact@lemolierechartres.fr

Place du Châtelet: a splendid monument commemorating the local soldiers who died in the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian war. Sculpted by Henri Allouard, int al.

Rue de la Poissonnière: Tourist Office in the half-timbered mediaeval Maison du Saumon. Depictions of the Annunciation and St Michel killing the dragon. Rue du Soleil d’Or no 4: the handsome Boucherie Pinson of 1892, now Listed, its interior seems to be unchanged.Place Billard: Marché aux Légumes– the iron-framed market hall of 1898. Via the heart of mediaeval Chartres:  Rue des Changes and Rue des Grenets: the picturesque 14c Gothic Hôtel de la Caige.

Visit l’Eglise St Aignan: Largely 16c, with Renaissance stained-glass and of the 1880s by Atelier Lorin. Frescoes of 1869 by Emile Boeswillwald, who collaborated with Viollet-le-Duc. If time visit the immense St Pierre: the immense mediaeval former abbey church with notable stained-glass.

Hôtel de Ville in the fine 17c/18c Hôtel Montescot with handsome sculpted doorways. Adjoining is a Art Nouveau mansion, a rarety in the town. The mairie is now mainly housed in a glass-walled building by Wilmotte.

Boulevard Chasles: Théâtre Municipal: of 1859 by Alfred Piébourg. Cinéma Les Enfants du Paradis: a striking building of 2007 by star architect Rudy Ricciotti which incorporates an ancient garage as its entrance. He is actually in prison for illegal works to his Listed Premises in Bandol. 

Take Filibus 4: (glimpse en route: Place du Lycée: Monument in bronze of 1904 by Henri Allouard to Noel Ballay, colonial governor of French West Africa).  Alight at Picassiette.

VISIT: La Maison Picassiette, 22 Rue du Repos. 10-12.30/14-17h. This extraordinary creation from 1929 by Raymond Isidore is a wonderfully bizarre place, all derived fom broken ceramics. The same bus returns to the station.