Old City

Old City information

Lonely Planet review

Chartres' meticulously preserved old city is northeast and east of the cathedral along the narrow western channel of the River Eure, which is spanned by a number of footbridges. From rue Cardinal Pie, the stairways Tertre St-Nicolas and rue Chantault – the latter lined with medieval houses (number 29 is the oldest house in Chartres) – lead down to the empty shell of the 12th-century Collégiale St-André , a Romanesque collegiate church closed in 1791 and severely damaged in the early 19th century and again in 1944. It's now an exhibition centre.

Along the river's eastern bank, rue de la Tannerie and its extension rue de la Foulerie are lined with flower gardens, millraces and the restored remnants of riverside trades: wash houses, tanneries and the like. Rue aux Juifs (Street of the Jews), on the west bank, has been extensively renovated. Rue des Écuyers has many structures dating from around the 16th century, including a half-timbered, prow-shaped house at number 26, with its upper section supported by beams. Escalier de la Reine Berthe is a towerlike covered stairwell clinging to a half-timbered house that dates back to the early 16th century.

There are some lovely half-timbered houses north of here on rue du Bourg and to the west on rue de la Poissonnerie, including the magnificent 16th-century Maison du Saumon , with its carved consoles of the eponymous salmon, the Archangel Gabriel, Mary, and Archangel Michael slaying the dragon.

From place St-Pierre you get a good view of the flying buttresses holding up the 12th- and 13th-century Église St-Pierre . Part of a Benedictine monastery in the 7th century, it was outside the city walls and vulnerable to attack; its fortresslike, pre-Romanesque bell tower was used as a refuge by monks and dates from around 1000. The fine, brightly coloured clerestory windows in the nave, the choir and the apse date from the early 14th century.

Église St-Aignan , first built in the early 16th century, is interesting for its wooden barrel-vault roof (1625), arcaded nave and painted interior of faded blue-and-gold floral motifs (c 1870). The stained glass and the Renaissance Chapelle de St-Michel date from the 16th and 17th centuries.