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Located about an hour from Paris by train, Chartres is a small city that draws many visitors to its renowned cathedral. Direct regional trains from Paris Montparnasse are available at peak commuter times, making the journey in one hour. Most trains take 1 hour, 15 minutes, travelling direct to Rambouillet and then stopping at all stations to Chartres. The Chartres Rail Station has a small caf and a news kiosk with ample selection; bathrooms are open irregularly.
The 12th century Cathedral of Chartres, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, is known as France's top Gothic cathedral. Walk along the city streets to view the lovely half-timbered houses, among which the Maison du Saumon (Salmon House) and the Maison de la Truie qui File (Spinning Sow House) are the most impressive.
Recent modernisation efforts have effected many changes in the city, but historical remnants survive strongly. The 13thcentury church of St Pierre has a fine display of stained glass, and a walk down the river reveals the ruins of the old city gate.
Visitors should hire a car at the rail station to explore the surrounding villages. Car rental is the ideal option for making a daytrip to Maintenon, home to a beautiful little castle. Chartres car rental can be booked online, where the best rates on the market are found.