Chartres, France

Chartres is the prefecture of the department of Eure-et-Loir (Centre-Val de Loire region) and it has 39,122 inhabitants. Located on the south-western edge of the Ile-de-France region, Chartres is in the heart of an agricultural plateau, the Beauce.

The city weighed very early in the history of France and many great men, from Henry IV, King of France crowned in Chartres, to Jean Moulin, the first resistance fighter of France during the Second World War, went to this city. Occupied since the Paleolithic, the city became the capital of the Gallic tribe of Carnutes from which it will take its name. Then, Romanized and baptized Autricum, it will be an important city, seat of a bishopric at the end of the 4th century. Later, during the Norman invasions, the city and the cathedral, ransacked by the Normans, relive thanks to the donation made in 876 by Charles the Bald, of a relic known as the veil of the Virgin. So the city quickly acquires a role of religious, political and military capital. Around the year one thousand, at the time of Bishop Fulbert, Chartres became a center of intellectual and spiritual training. In 1328, the territory of Chartres, which had long been in the movement of the powerful Counts of Blois and Champagne, becomes part of the royal domain. The city, also a military place, is at the heart of the wars: first, the Hundred Years War, then the wars of Religion. At the end of the 17th century, Chartres stops playing a role of holdfast and the ramparts are then reworked to contribute to the embellishment of the city. The transformation leading to today’s city takes place only in the mid-twentieth century after the city erased the wounds of the two world wars, under the impetus of an important social and economic transformation.

Many heritage features can still testify to this rich historical past like the Cathedral Notre-Dame de Chartres which was inscribed on the World Heritage List of UNESCO from 1979. In the ramparts of the city, Chartres has many houses of the 15th century, the Collegiate Church of St. Andrew, the Church of St. Aignan and the abbey church of St. Peter. Outside the walls, on the banks of the Eure, we can find the abbey church of Saint-Martin-au-Val and its conventual buildings, the first place of Christian place of worship, built in the middle of the largest Roman sanctuary known to date.

The city also has a remarkable natural heritage, the one of the banks of the Eure, which is highlighted for 15 years through the Green Plan.

Nowadays, this city, well rooted in modernity, enhances its heritage through the event Chartres en lumières (Chartres in light), during which 20 sites are staged for 200 evenings a year (from April to October). Otherwise, Chartres hosts the head office of the « Cosmetic Valley », the competitiveness cluster of beauty and well-being. Chartres has become, after few decades, the capital of Light and Perfume.