Distance from Paris: 90 kilometers west; 1.25-hour drive
Why it made out list: The adorable little town of Chartres has a very, very famous cathedral dominating its skyline. It’s one of a gazillion churches in France, but it’s also one of the most stunning. Two very different spires make it stand out from the herd, and the stained-glass windows are, for the most part, from the 1200s. Yes, old. Plus, it survived bombings during World War II because of an American colonel who went behind enemy lines, revealing that the church was not being used by the Germans. Leave it to the Americans to save the day again.
Pro tip: From April to October, try to stay a bit later at night and check out the illuminations on the town’s buildings and, of course, the cathedral. It’s a surefire wow moment.