How to Turn Learning about Chartres Cathedral into a Fun Student Art Project

France is brimming with architectural and historic wonders, which can make choosing which cultural sites to teach about an overwhelming task.

To create a memorable learning experience, why not introduce students to the famous Chartres Cathedral through a hands-on art project? (Instructions and activity lesson plan included below)

Why is Chartres Special?

One of the first French monuments to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Chartres Cathedral, also known as Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres, is often considered one of the greatest masterpieces of French Gothic Architecture.

It’s interesting to note that multiple Cathedrals have stood at the current site since before the 10th century, each having been rebuilt after the previous version was destroyed by fire or war. The Cathedral we see today was largely destroyed again by fire in 1194, sparing only the crypt, towers and façade.  The Cathedral was then rebuilt over a 26-year period to finally be completed in 1220. The destruction caused by the fires and subsequent reconstruction accounts for why the Cathedral features both Gothic and Romanesque architecture.

Chartres Cathedral

Les Vitraux (Stained-glass windows)

Equally as impressive as its architecture are the Cathedral’s 176 world-famous stained-glass windows. These striking and colorful works of art are considered one of the world’s most well preserved and complete set of stained glass windows from the Medieval Period.

Turn Learning into a Fun Art Project

After an introductory lesson on the history and significance of the Cathedral (we love the 360-degree virtual tour available online-see resources below), task students with the hands-on art project of making their own stained-glass window. Students will love showing off their creativity and unique personalities as they build their own classroom masterpiece. What’s more, research has proven that students learn and retain content better when they can relate it to their own lives and interests. As a closing activity and/or assessment, students can write in French about the design or significance of their window.

Bring the History of Chartres Alive with a Student Art Project


Content Objective: Students will be able to describe why Chartres Cathedral is famous and an important historical/cultural landmark.

Language Objective: Students will be able to use simple sentences to write about their personal stained-glass window in French, using sentences frames such as this color represents…, I chose this because…

Materials Needed:

 – colored tissue paper

– black card stock or construction paper

– white colored pencils

– scissors

– glue or tape


  1. Instruct students to draw their stained-glass window design on the black paper using a white colored pencil. When they have finished, they should cut-out the shapes.
  2. Using small pieces of colored tissue paper, students will then place the tissue paper over the holes they have cut and glue/tape in place to the back side of the paper.
  3. Once finished, students can hang their finished product on the classroom window so that the light will pass through the tissue paper. Voila-enjoy your own version of Chartres’ famous vitraux!

Resources: For an online virtual visit to Chartres:

When travelling with students to France, Chartres is a quick and easy day trip from Paris. Take a guided tour of the Cathedral before enjoying a leisurely walk through the quaint Medieval city.

Prométour has offices around the world, including one office in Paris, which gives us a true advantage when it comes to organizing educational student tours to France! Being that we call France our second home, you can rest assured knowing that we’re the leader when it comes to creating customized educational travel itineraries to this beautiful country! Feel free to download our free guide below.