Chartres Cathedral, keeper of mysteries and myths, guardian of the sacred, both within the cathedral itself and by the generations of locals over time, sits in the core of centre ville. There’s something about Chartres … it keeps calling me back — and off I go.

It was one of the first places I visited 30 years ago, and without fail I’ve been every year since, at least once. I’ve blogged about it, taken people there, done personal retreats there … and do not ever tire returning.

Still a well-kept secret, more and more people are discovering it year by year.

There are so many places like this in France … it is impossible to name them all. But this one, this UNESCO World Heritage Site, is only an hour from Paris, and is home to perhaps the most well-preserved Gothic cathedral on Earth.

Stand as witness to beauty everywhere; from how the cathedral itself is the binding for the book of ancient stained glass … to how ancient artisans laid their finest work at every turn over centuries — but left no mark … to walking around any corner to be in front of some ancient wall that has been maintained and nurtured throughout the centuries, leaving you gawking in awe.

The stained glass of Chartres? World-renowned, it is unparalleled. It simply takes your breath away.

This medieval town spirals around the cathedral itself, and is walkabout; closed off to mainstream traffic. Boutique shops, fine dining, great hotels, restaurants and cafes spill out onto the street, with culture at every turn.

For instance, Hotel Grand Monarque hosts wine tasting events, French cooking classes — and works in tandem with the Théâtre de Chartres for show-goers. It is a thriving mecca for cultural events.

It’s true; I love Chartres. I can’t stop talking about it. For you, consider spending three days here for a  saturating experience of all that is France in one fell swoop. A breakaway from Paris, perhaps?

En fait, true to form, I built a 3-Day Chartres Itinerary for just that, soon up on my site.