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10 Best Things To Do During Your Day Trip To Chartres, France with Kids

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Last Updated on April 8, 2024 by Leslie Stroud

For those who wish to immerse themselves into French culture and experience true gothic beauty, a visit to Chartres, just outside of Paris, should be high on the list. Chartres, while relatively small at around 50,000 residents only, can still make you feel like you are walking around a French postcard. The town boasts quaint architecture, charming windmills and canals, cobblestone streets, and the Lady of Chartres Cathedral.

The Chartres Cathedral is a short hour drive from Paris, located 80 km (50 miles) southwest. It has stood for nearly a millennia and survived the French Revolution and World Wars.  The artwork, sculptures, exterior, and interior will entertain even young travelers (for a little while, at least).  Best of all, the entrance is free!

Stained glass windows of Chartres Cathedral

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How To Get To Chartres, France With Kids

Taking the train from Paris is simple and a 10-minute walk to the Chartres Cathedral (the city’s crown jewel and why most visitors come). From the Montparnasse Station, you can buy a round-trip train ticket using the kiosks for around 20€ per adult.

Driving with kids can be easy as well. We’ve found parking garages easy to navigate.

Opting for a tour is a great option too. Combine with an excursion to Versailles or select a private trip to Chartres. While more expensive, you’ll learn much about the town’s great history and not worry about planning the day yourself.

Why Visit Chartres, France

Chartres can offer a simple respite from the hustle of Paris while still providing a darling French experience. Being close to Paris makes this little town a wonderful day trip or weekend experience.

1. The Chartres Cathedral

While cathedrals are everywhere in Europe, and one can feel a bit of “cathedral fatigue”, the Chartres Cathedral is extraordinary and one of the best-preserved cathedrals in all of Europe. Often termed the “mini Notre Dame”, the cathedral is nearly 1000 years old and can truly transport you back in time.

Filled with relics, incredible stained glass windows, and hundreds of tiny statues depicting the life of Christ, the cathedral can entertain you for hours. Even our smallest family members were enthralled by the beauty and otherly-world feel of this magnificent building.

Harry inside the Chartres Cathedral

How To Best Enjoy The Chartres Cathedral With Kids

Remember to check out the incredible history of the place before visiting the cathedral and teach the kids about it. They may not appreciate it now, but I promise when they learn more about it at this time, or in school in years to come, it’ll make history come to life to know they’ve been there!

Tours will always offer more information and a more lasting experience. Audio guide tours and live tours with a local expert are available. The famed Malcolm Miller lectures about this impressive cathedral worldwide and offers daily tours (when not on vacation) around noon and 2:45 pm. He reveals the history of the different parts of the castle each day, so visiting more than once can be educational.

Climbing the bell tower and embracing the views of the city should be attempted by all those well enough to do so. 

Each Cathedral is reach in beauty and history. Such an art!
Choir wall of Chartres Cathedral

The gown that Blessed Mary wore during the birth of Christ sits behind the altar and has been miraculously preserved throughout history. Be sure to check it out and other relics in the cathedral.

Learn about the stained glass windows that are so valuable. They were taken down in war and hidden in the countryside to be preserved.  Many windows date over 800 years old and are priceless artifacts of the middle ages and before

You can also take an additional tour of the crypts below the church or walk the labyrinth within the church.

Other Things To Do In Chartres With Kids

Chartres was one of our favorite cities during our two-month stay near Paris.  The city charms you with lovely restaurants, a Fine Art Museum, beautiful gardens, and cute shops.  We loved seeing them erect the 20-ft or so high city Christmas Tree at Christmastime.  Each French town usually has its own Christmas tree and market.

If visiting in the summer or winter months from April to January, you can enjoy the lighting up of the city at night for the Chartres en Lumières.

2. Enjoying The City of Chartres With Kids

One of the best activities to do with the kids is to just explore the city on foot. There can be many stairs as you cross the city, especially up to the cathedral, so I’d recommend a baby carrier for young ones.

Enjoying the European Christmas Night Market with kids

We love to take our time walking, getting lunch or snacks, and doing window shopping. Kids are most adventurous when fed, so food plays a significant role in exploring for our family of seven!

3. Grabbing Some Food In Chartres

Chartres boasts many charming cafes. We have tried a few, but what we love the most is Cafe Serpente across the street from the Chartres Cathedral. You can find a great hot chocolate, delicious escargot (be sure to try it if you haven’t yet! They are similar to a wonderfully flavored mushroom and delicious with some crusty french bread), or a whole burger and fries.

We love hot chocolate breaks in between tours with kids

4. Chartres Historic Preservation Area

Walk around this old part of town, down the hill from the cathedral, to transport back in time. You’ll enjoy the medieval buildings, fishermen, canals, and windmills.

We loved snapping some photos of buildings from another age, and our boys ran around like they were true medieval knights.

5. Maison Picassiette

A charming cottage and garden that was slowly transformed over decades by the owner into a work of art. The buildings, furniture, and outside decorations are covered in tiny pieces of glass, ceramics, pottery, and more to create beautiful mosaics.

6. Stained Glass Museum

If your kiddos enjoyed the stained glass of the cathedral, continue the theme with the Chartres International Stained Glass Center.

7. Parc des Bords de L’Eure

This local gem of a park is a perfect destination for little ones. You can find playgrounds, small sailboats around the river, a cafe, a pizza parlor, and outdoor movie nights in warmer months.

8. Swimming of Ice Skating at L’odyssée

This large sporting complex, known as the largest aquatic center in France, proffers 11 pools, indoor and outdoor workout facilities, and an ice skating rink year-round. It can be pretty busy in peak times, and men might be required to wear a speedo to enter.

Kids ice skating in an open rink

9. La Tanière – Zoo refuge

Over 600 animals rescued from various bad situations occupy this large “zoo” open to visitors. Children will enjoy the giant animals from circuses, private owners, and more. The park also offers a picnic area and a children’s play area.

Hit a zoo in France with kids

10. Les Fresques de Bel Air

While exploring the city, stop by these open-air frescos or street art. Snap some fun photos to remember your visit to this lovely city!



Booking your flight to France? Catch great fare deals from Booking.com, Skyscanner, Kiwi.com, or Expedia, and get some budget-friendly tickets.

Find a family-friendly hotel in France from Booking.com, Expedia, or Vrbo, (we also love Tripadvisor and Hotels.com).

Discover more about France through fun activities from GetYourGuide, Airbnb Experiences, or Viator and discover more of Grindelwald.

Need to rent a car? Visit Rentalcars.com.

Get insured while traveling with World Nomads.

Want to have a photo shoot while traveling? Check out flytographer!

Capture your best travel memories in France as we do with a GoPro, Sony camera, or our favorite drones: DJI FPV, Air, and Mini.

Check out your travel necessities from a comprehensive list of all the 7Wayfinders Travel Must-Haves. Click Here!

Additional Reading

Christmas Markets in Europe: Germany and France

Our Review Of All Disney Parks Around the World

Belgium Trip with Kids: The Perfect Day in Ghent

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