French Labyrinths: Ancient and Modern

There are a number of ancient and a growing number of modern labyrinths that can be visited and walked in France. Check the World-Wide Labyrinth Locator for up to date information.

Amiens Cathedral Labyrinth

Amiens Cathedral Labyrinth with center exposed

Just an hour train ride from Paris, the Amiens labyrinth can be visited whenever the cathedral is open. Chairs often, but not always cover much of the labyrinth.

Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth

The Chartres Cathedral labyrinth © by photographer Jill K H Geoffrion

13th century 11-circuit stone church labyrinth. One hour from Paris. Open on Fridays from 10h00-17h00 from the beginning of Lent until November 1.
2015. “Mysterious Circles At Chartres.” Jill K H Geoffrion and Alain Pierre Louët. Caerdroia 44:59. (pdf) A consideration of six different graffiti formations that may relate to the stone labyrinth in the nave.
2010. “The Petit Labyrinth Graffito of Chartres Cathedral.” Jill K H Geoffrion and Alain Pierre Louët. Caerdroia 40: 4-8. (pdf)
Introduction of a newly discovered labyrinth in the Chartres Cathedral

There are other labyrinths in town: See also:
2020. “The Lesser-Known Labyrinths of Chartres.” Labyrinth Pathways 14. 4-11.

Evry Cathedral Labyrinth, 20th Century

Evry Cathedral labyrinth (modern) by photographer Jill K H Geoffrion

This modern angular labyrinth is placed in a small side chapel of the cathedral.

Guingamp Labyrinth  7 wall, unique design.  19th Century Labyrinth

Guingamp Labyrinth by photographer Jill Geoffrion

La Basilique Notre-Dame de Bon-Secours is very easy to find in the center of town. There is ample parking. The labyrinth is located on the outer porch of the church.

Orléans, Modern 11 Circuit Labyrinth outside the Cathedral

Modern labyrinth outside of Orléans Cathedral, France by photographer Jill K H Geoffrion

Outside the south door of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Orléans is this small scale 11-circuit modern labyrinth. It is next to the car park on the south side. You can “walk” it, but you will discover that as the path gets close to the center there are misplaced pavers.

Ouzouer-Sur-Trézee Labyrinth at Pont Chevron

Ouzouer-Sur-Trézee Labyrinth at Pont Chevron by photographer Jill K H Geoffrion

This Roman mosaic labyrinth can be visited by appointment during the summer months.
2014. “The Pont-Chevron Mosaic Labyrinth.” Jill K H Geoffrion and Alain Pierre Louët. Caerdroia 42:30-36.(pdf). Discussion of the elements and themes of a well-preserved Roman mosaic labyrinth in France.

Poitiers Cathedral

Poitiers Wall Labyrinth by photographer Jill Geoffion

This wall labyrinth is located in the north nave.

St. Quentin Labyrinth

St. Quentin Cathedral labyrinth by photographer Jill K H Geoffrion

This cathedral and labyrinth is an easy one hour train ride from Paris. The labyrinth is generally open and can be walked. It is in need of restoration.

List as found in Saward, Jeff. (1997). Ancient Labyrinths of the World. Thundersley, England, Caerdroia. See page 12, 15.

  • Amiens (reconstructed 1894, destroyed 1825)
  • Bayeux (13th century, survives but difficult to see)
  • Chalons sur Marne (mid 16th century, decorative tiles)
  • Chartres (usually covered with chairs)
  • Genanville (stone carving, 12-wall medieval, 14th century medieval, 14th century octagonal)
  • Guingamp (pavement, 7 wall unique design, late 19th century)
  • Mailly-Maillet (constructed 1927, copy of St. Omer)
  • Mirepox (floor tiles; St. Omer type, early 16th century, 9 tiles form the labyrinth.)
  • Orléans (still exists?)(***13th century, St. Omer type)
  • Pont L’abbaye (floor tiles, late 15th/early 16th)
  • Rheims (destroyed 1779)
  • St. Omer (destroyed 18th century) modern version
  • St. Quentin (pavement, 15th-century copy of Amiens)
  • Toulouse: floor tiles, 15th century, similar to Mirepoix

“Let us mention, if only for memory’s sake, several remaining labyrinths, far too different to be comparable: The Chapter Room of Bayeux, of later date and only four meters (13 feet) wide; the cathedral of Mirepoix, also of later date and very small; the chapel of Prévôte at the cathedral of Toulouse, which is similar; Genailnville (Val-d’Oise), of equally diminished dimensions; and finally the labyrinth at the Cathedral of Poitiers, a simple but crudely engraved line on the wall of the north aisle. There is a well that is mistaken for a labyrinth at Saint-Euverte d’Orleans, that may be little more than a decorative paving stone*.” Pages 6-7. Villette, Jean. Translated by Robert Ferré and Ruth Hanna. (1995). The Enigma of the Labyrinth. St. Louis, MO, One Way Press.

*Jill’s note: This is a 43 x 43 tile black and white maze pattern that includes the tomb of St. Euverte. An organ covers part of the pathway. Villette’s original text reads, “Enfin, ce que l’on prends parfois pour un labyrinthe à Saint-Ouverte, n’est peut-être qu’un pavage décoratif. (L’enigme du labyrinthe, Notre Dame du Chartres (Chartres: 1983)page 5.)

St. Eurverte, France maze by photographer Jill K H Geoffrion

2014. “The St. Euverte Labyrinth: Orléans.” Alain Pierre Louët and Jill K H Geoffrion. Caerdroia 42:57-58 (pdf).
Description of the 19th-century labyrinth.

French Cathedrals That Used To Have Labyrinths

Auxerre Cathedral. La Cathédrale de Saint-Etienne. For more information: 03 86 53 23 29. Presbytère de la Cathédrale 4, rue de Caylus 89000 Auxerre, France. Tel: 03 86 52 31 68. Email: [email protected]. Summer hours (from Palm Sunday to All Saint’s Day) 7h30-18h00; Winter hours (Nov. 1- to Palm Sunday) 7h30-17h00.

Sens Cathedral: La Cathédrale Saint-Etienne. 148, rue des Déportés et de la Resistance. 03 86 65 06 57 (Presbytère). Open from 8h30 t0 18h00 all year long. In you would like to arrange a group visit, contact the Office of Tourism de Sens 03 86 65 19 49. When I asked, I was told that the labyrinth was located in the area closest to the west doors. I could not confirm this.
See: Ferré, Robert, “The Sens Labyrinth.” Caerdroia 32:2001, pages 36-38.

Many manuscript labyrinths can also be found in France. Click on the links below to read several articles relating to these.

2020. Medieval Marvels: Fifty-Three Eleven-Circuit Manuscript Labyrinths. Alain Pierre Louët and J. K. H. Geoffrion. Caerdroia 49: 8-27. (pdf)  Consideration of an extensive group of labyrinths produced prior to 1500.
2016. “Labyrinth Doorways: Crossing the Threshold.” Alain Pierre Louët and Jill Kimberly Hartwell Geoffrion. Caerdroia 45:11-31. (pdf)
A consideration of the doorways of labyrinths depicted in medieval manuscripts.
2015. “The Beast Within.” Jill K H Geoffrion and Alain Pierre Louët. Caerdroia 44: 10-23. (pdf)
A consideration of the centers of labyrinths in medieval manuscripts, including the 10th-century labyrinth in Orléans BM 16.

For more information see Kern, Hermann. (2000). Through the Labyrinth. Designs and Meanings over 5,000 Years. New York, Prestel.
“Translated into English, this visually gripping and wide-ranging interdisciplinary study… Kern’s text remains largely unaltered, but a series of addenda written by two leading scholars in the field, Robert Ferré and Jeff Saward, acquaint readers with the latest developments in labyrinth research. 360 pages with 732 black-and-white and 17 color illustrations.” Publishers.

Please contact Jill if you have a labyrinth to add to this page.