Robert Ferre has retired as Tour Director for One Heart Tours. Any future tours are unlikely until after he retires as president of Labyrinth Enterprises, LLC. Thank you for your patronage over the past 15 years. (Robert could be available as a guest lecturer for other groups in Chartres.)

Below are details of the last tour Robert directed, in 2004

2004 Tour:

Spirit, Light, and Sacred Geometry:
The Origins of Gothic Architecture

A week in Chartres: July 19-25, 2004

Presenters: John James, Robert Ferre, and Kent Schuette

Chartres: Greatest of the Gothic Cathedrals

"It's story is the best that architecture has to tell, for it typified the aspirations of man at the moment when man's aspirations were highest." Henry Adams

"In the whole of Europe there is no group of works of dogmatic art in the least comparable to that presented by the cathedral of Chartres." Emile Mâle

"To the modern tourist and historian alike, the Cathedral of Chartres is the monument most representative of the Gothic style. It is the only French cathedral to have survived in nearly complete form from the early thirteenth-century, with sculpture decorating every portal, with a full array of stained glass . . . and with architecture which is surprisingly uniform . . . . Arch- itecturally and sculpturally, Chartres was not only a culmination of the early Gothic experiments of the twelfth-century, but was also the pace-setter for the century that was to follow. . . . Chartres was itself a motivating force, a powerful agent of change in the thirteenth century, the first of the so-called High Gothic cathedrals that fixed the future of the Gothic style." Robert Branner

"The impact of Chartres on the people of its time was enormous. More than any other building, it represented an ideal. It achieved the status of an icon. It partook of the divine." John James

"There were earlier cathedrals than Chartres. Later came cathedrals that were larger and more ornate. Virtually all of the earlier ones, however, including Notre Dame in Paris, made considerable changes to become more like Chartres. In Chartres, the symphony which was the mature Gothic style played for the first time. While other cathedrals developed the theme and many fine variations, the music was never again so sweet, so soulful, so deeply inspired." Robert Ferré

"In fact, the whole history of the French Gothic in the thirteenth century, and even after, could almost be reduced to the development and metamorphoses of the Chartres type. Chartres meant, of course, a number of different things: it meant a vast programme for a great pilgrimage church taking form in a highly articulated plain; it meant a new degree of technical achievement in width and height. And a new composition of inner space." Jean Bony

A Great Mystery but not a Secret

As the year 1000 approached, most people in France thought the world would end in Armagedon. You might call it the Y1K problem. When it didn't, there ensued 200 years that mark the most incredible spiritual and intellectual transformation in history. Will Durant called it the Age of Faith. Its final great flowering entailed the construction of magnificent Gothic cathedrals for which there was little precedent. The School of Chartres was one of the leading centers for this great social movement. Chartres Cathedral became the model for all subsequent Gothic cathedrals. Today, it is popular to speculate about exactly what happened. Did the Templars play a role? Was St. Bernard influential? What about the Black Madonna, the labyrinth, and the Druid well?

What happened in the 12th century parallels in many ways the 21st century. The builders put all of their answers into the cathedral, in the sacred geometry, the art, the symbolism. It is there for us to read, but first we must learn the language. We must look at both the cathedral and ourselves with different eyes, escaping our modern outlook. Chartres may be a mystery, but it's no secret. The cathedral speaks to us, moves us deeply, inspires us. The labyrinth, its stones worn smooth by countless feet of pilgrims, connects us with the many who have come before. Chartres Cathedral offers an exceptional experience that can only be understood in person. The town, as well, is charming. with historic houses, the River Eure, tree-shaded plazas with cafes, and more. For me, this is my 49th visit, and I can hardly wait. Mark July 19-25, 2004, on your calendar and come join us.

Besides myself, there will be two other presenters, Kent Schuette and John James. John is the world's greatest authority on Gothic construction. He spent six years just studying Chartres. Kent teaches landscape architecture at Purdue University. An incredible artist, he will share with us how to see Chartres through the eyes of the artist. Similarly, author Jill Kimberly Hartwell Geoffrion, a member of our group and frequent visitor to Chartres, will help us see the cathedral through the eyes of the mystic.

An Exceptional Opportunity

The average stay for a visitor to Chartres is a matter of hours. For this symposium, however, we will have the luxury of staying in Chartres for a week, getting to know the cathedral and to experience its moods and magnificence.

We will be housed in Maison Saint Yves, modest quarters just a stone's throw from the cathedral, owned by the diocese. (The final night will be at a three-star hotel in Paris.) As part of our program, we will gain access to areas closed to the public, such as the upper walkways on the outside of the building, and the space above the vaults. Further, we will have an opportunity to walk the Chartres labyrinth, after closing hours, with the entire cathedral to ourselves.

Best of all, we will have three featured presenters who are extremely well-versed in the topics which we will cover relating to the cathedral. Foremost among these is John James, who knows the cathedral in more detail than any living person. His voluminous studies of Chartres and other Gothic structures have opened to our understanding some of the most discussed aspects of Gothic construction: How they did it, when, and in what sequence. The knowledge gained in Chartres will give a context for understanding and comparing other Gothic cathedrals and types of architecture.

We will not over-schedule our itinerary. There will be ample free time to investigate and explore the cathedral and the charming town of Chartres on our own. Staying for a week will give first-time visitors to France a far more authentic introduction to French life than one would get spending hours in buses on the autoroutes.

We will give detailed travel suggestions on how to the best airfare, getting to Chartres, and more. The cost is $1,395 per person (double occupancy). This includes lodging, two meals most days, tuition for lectures, tours, entry fees, group activities, and travel from Chartres to Paris by bus. To register, send a $300 fully refundable deposit to:
One Heart Tours
128 Slocum Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63119

Telephone: (800) 873-9873
Our group will be restricted to 35 participants.

Featured Presenters

John James
John James has spent 30 years examining Gothic structures in such detail that he has revolutionized our current understanding of their construction. His two-volume set, The Contractors of Chartres, resulted from a five-year study which identified the individual masons according to their templates, style, geometry, foot measure and other traits. He is currently working on the third and fourth volumes of a 10-volume study of 1500 extant Gothic structures in the Paris Basin. See his website at

Robert Ferré
Director of One Heart Tours, Robert Ferré has visited Chartres 47 times over a period of 38 years, lecturing and giving tours of the cathedral. He works as a full-time labyrinth maker, specializing in the Chartres labyrinth , and has written at length about the cathedral.

Kent Schuette
Approaching retirement from his teaching duties in landscape architecture at Purdue University, Kent Schuette's involvement as the head architect for the Cathedral Labyrinth and Sacred Garden in New Harmony, Indiana, has led him to further study of the Chartres labyrinth, sacred geometry, and the original town of Harmony. Kent is a superb artist who will share with us some of his skills.

Here is a brief overview of some of our activities (and meals provided):

Mon., July 19 (Dinner)
Arrival in Chartres. Some people choose to come a day or two early. The first official event is at 3:00 p.m. with introductions.

Tues., July 20 (Breakfast, lunch)
My tour of the cathedral.
Meditation in the crypt near the well and the Black Madonna.
Private labyrinth walk after closing hours.

Wed., July 21 (Breakfast, lunch)
"Seeing through an artist's eyes," with Kent Schuette
"Seeing through a mystic's eyes," Jill Kimberly Hartwell Geoffrion
Lunch guest speaker: Paul Trouilloud, architect in charge of historic monuments for the region, including the cathedral.

Thurs., July 22 (Breakfast, dinner)
"Sacred geometry," (John James, Robert Ferre and Kent Schuette)
"A medieval perspective," John James
Dinner guest: Abbe Daniel Rambure, rector of Chartres Cathedral

Fri., July 23 (Breakfast, lunch)
"The origins of Gothic architecture," John James
Tour of closed areas of the cathedral (upper exterior walkways, etc.)
Labyrinth open all day
Private labyrinth walk after closing hours

Sat., July 24 (Breakfast, picnic lunch)
"Pilgrimage: putting our week into perspective," Robert Ferre and John James
Visit the Saturday market in Chartres
Picnic lunch, incorporating items bought at the market
Transporation to Paris
Lodging at hotel in Montparnasse area of Paris

Sun., July 25 (Breakfast)
Closing ceremony
"Getting around in Paris," Robert Ferre (how to use the subway, buses,etc.)
Optional gourmet Sunday buffet ($50 additional charge)
Optional activities in Paris

For more descriptive material about this tour see: Chartres Tour

Related links

In 38 years I have visited Chartres 48 times. Years before I became involved in labyrinths, I began taking people to sacred sites in France, starting in 1989. I am the founder and director of One Heart Tours, named after our spiritual resource center, One Heart.

Three members of our group.


On the One Heart website are some comments about pilgrimage, Chartres, etc. (

See Robert in action at Chartres: (action.html).

Click here for more on Chartres (chartres.html)

The Sonia Haliday photo of the interior of Chartres Cathedral (chartresphoto.html)

Going to Chartres on your own? Please note that the labyrinth is only open on Fridays, barring any special circumstance. So be sure to visit on Friday if you want to walk the labyrinth. Chartres travel advice is available on our website: (

If in Chartres, consider staying at the pilgrimage quarters, Maison Saint Yves. It is owned by the church, and located a stone's throw from the cathedral. The rooms are simple and there are no hotel-type services. Breakfast is available (and catered meals for larger groups). Here are some photos from our stay in August, 2001: MAISON. See the details on the Chartres Cathedral website. Click on the link that says Maison St. Yves and then there will be a choice for English text. You can fax or email for reservations. (

Amiens Cathedral (amiens.html)

2003 TOUR:

CHARTRES: Jewel in the Pilgrim's Crown
A week in Chartres: August 2-9, 2003

Sponsored by the New England Labyrinth Guild

It's difficult to go to Chartres with a group of like-minded individuals and not have a great time. In fact, despite the record hot weather, we had a spectacular time. Our group of 35 people toured the cathedral several times, including the outer walk ways and above the vaults. We gained access to walk the labyrinth on two different evenings. Being there for a week, we got to know some of the towns people and merchants, many of whom went out of their way to meet our needs and requirements.

We saw sacred geometry in action. The cathedral is filled with universal symbolism, such as sun and moon, black madonnas, the crypt, the well and the labyrinth -- all of which have been assigned Christian meanings. Still, the universal comes through. The Virgin Mary occupies a major place in the cathedral, which is dedicated to her assumption (being carried into heaven by angels). The cathedral houses a relic, said to be Mary's tunic, which has been venerated since the 9th century. Analysis has shown that the cloth was made in Syria in the first century! For those who don't have Mary as part of their tradition, it is interesting to enter into that particular energy.

John Ridder participated in this event and took some photos which will be displayed on his website: