France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Chartres en Lumières, France
On summer evenings, the great and historic buildings of Chartres are illuminated by artistic laser light shows that will astonish and delight you—and it's all free.

 


 

 

 

Chartres en lumières is a splendid artistic illumination of the historic monuments throughout the town of Chartres, performed nightly from early April through early October each year.

Not simply a sound-and-light show, Chartres en lumières is highly sophisticated technically, and highly satisfying artistically.

After darkness falls, laser light projectors hidden in nearby buildings cast patterns of colored light and animated scenes onto historic buildings, including onto the vast Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres.

Original music plays softly as the lights artistically recreate the construction of the cathedral and its decoration, emphasizing its particular beauties.

During the five-minute show, the hundreds of carved figures on the cathedral's three elaborate entrances are highlighted, making them much more easily visible than during the daytime, and as you watch, the rich colors in which these now plain-stone figures were originally decorated come to life—a splendid display!

Chartres en lumières is free to all and takes place at 24 different venues around town, incuding quite a number along the Eure River. You can simply wander from one to the next and take in as much as you want.

On the cathedral, three separate shows—one on each entrance—of about five minutes each, repeat continually starting after dark and continuing for hours. The Chartres Médiathèque, in the beautiful Art Deco PTT building, has a similarly fascinating show, as does the Theatre. You can get a map/guide from the Tourist Office, and there's also an app that allows you to see what's where.

Theatre, Chartres
Illuminated facade of the lovely Chartres Theatre.

On other churches and historical buildings such as the bishop's palace (now the Musée des Beaux-Arts), shows are less elaborate, and may be static illuminations, but are all of high artistic quality.

Cathedral Notre-Dame de Chartres illuminated for Chartres en lumières, Chartres, France
Façade of Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres
illuminated for Chartres en lumières, highlighting
the "Blue Virgin" stained glass window.

After dinner, you wander the town following a free map of the illuminations, enjoying the evening, staying as long as you want at any of the monuments.

Some of the shows, particularly those at the cathedral, are well worth watching two, three or even more times.

Language is not an issue, as there is no narration, only soft music at the cathedral, the Médiathèque, and other major buildings.

Chartres en Lumières

 


Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres

Stained Glass Windows

What to See & Do in Chartres

Hotels in Chartres

Restaurants in Chartres

Transport for Chartres

Tourist Information

About Chartres

Day-trips from Paris

 

Paris Girls Secret Society, a novel by Tom Brosnahan

 

North Portal of Chartres cathedral illuminated, Chartres, France

Above, North Portal of Chartres Cathedral illuminated,
showing the original colors of the sculptures.

Below, The Médiathèque. Note the figures projected on the trees in front of the building.


 

Mediatheque, Chartres

 

 

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