Historically France was a Catholic country. The number of churches in the capital certainly reflects the country’s religious roots. Today, these religious sites are major tourist attractions. For example, massive churches like Notre Dame Cathedral and the Sacre Coeur Basilica attract hundreds of visitors daily. Any first-time visitor to Paris should certainly make time to visit these two sites, but there are many other awe-inspiring churches worth visiting. Here, find seven lesser known Parisian churches well worth your time. The best part is that they are located near other popular destinations in Paris, so there is no need to make a special trip to visit them.
La Sainte-Chapelle (The Holy Chapel)
Located on Paris’ Ile-de-la-Cité (City Island), this 13th century masterpiece constructed by King Louis IX should be at the top of any visitor’s list. The chapel was created in order to display the king’s political ambitions, as well as to house his passion relics. The relics have been moved to Notre Dame’s treasury, the ornate shrine remains. However, it is the chapel’s 15 stained-glass windows depicting 1113 biblical scenes that steal the spotlight. Six hundred square meters of stained glass were necessary to complete the project and the effect created when sunlight streams through is breathtaking.
Nearby attractions include Notre Dame Cathedral and Le Palais de Justice (Palace of the Justice). You can reach La Sainte-Chapelle via Metro line 4, getting off at Cité.
This church, located in Paris’s first district, and most central district, is a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture. Constructed between 1532 and 1632, the church enjoyed a famed reputation in the centuries that followed. King Louis XIV received communion here, the funeral for Mozart’s mother took place here, and Molière was married here. During the French Revolution, the church was looted and used as a barn. Luckily for modern tourists, restoration efforts have restored the church to its former glory.
Nearby attractions include Centre Pompidou and Musée du Louvre (Louvre Museum). You can access Saint-Eustache via Metro lines 1, 4, 7, 11, and 14, getting off at Châtelet-Les Halles.
This church, made famous by Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons, is Paris’ second largest, after Notre Dame. It is located in the chic sixth district and houses one of the world’s largest organs. During its construction, architectural snafus abounded, the results of which can still be seen today in the church’s two mismatched towers. Inside, visitors will appreciate the frescos completed by famed French artist Delacroix.
Nearby attractions include Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Garden) and Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood. You can access Saint-Sulpice via Metro line 4, stopping at Saint-Sulpice.
This little-known Baroque-style church is located in Paris’ fourth district. Built between 1627 and 1641, with funding from Louis XIII, this is the first church not constructed in the Gothic style in France. Visitors will easily find it thanks to its immense façade standing in contrast with the shops and restaurants in this hip neighborhood. Inside, high-domed ceiling and chandeliers will leave a mark on visitors.
In this area you can also visit the Marais neighborhood. Saint-Paul Saint-Louis can be reached by taking Metro line 1, and getting off at Saint-Paul.
Dating back to 542, this church is one of Paris’ oldest. It also represents the only remaining example of the Romanesque-style in Paris. While most of the original structure was destroyed by Norman invaders, and later during the French Revolution, original marble columns still stand. The church is also the final resting ground of French philosopher René Descartes. A definite must-see for history buffs.
Nearby attractions include Café Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore. Saint-Germain-des-Prés can be reached with Metro line 4, getting off at Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
This church is located close to the Panthéon in Paris, and it features the most unique architecture, the rood screen. This carved screen was a separation wall built to distinguish places among the common people and the ecclesiastics. This impressive architecture was built between the years of 1492 and 1626, and it rests the shrine of St. Geneviève, and the tombs of French writers Blaise Pascal and Jean Racine. Described as one of the most beautiful churches in Paris, the colorful history and unique architectural elements attracts tourists from all over the world. Tourists will find the interiors mesmerizing and can admire the nave, the chancel, the wooden pulpit and the organ which has ninety stops and four keyboards. Nearby attractions include Arènes de Lutèce and Place De L'arbé Basset. You can reach Saint-Étienne-du-Mont via Metro line 4 and 10 from Gare du Nord or take bus 47 from Gare du Nord.
Located in Paris, this Roman Catholic church was formerly built into an ancient temple in honor of Napoleon’s army. After his fall, this piece of architecture was demolished and a beautiful church was built in honor of St Mary Magdalene in the year 1842. Visitors will love a visit to this church and they can offer their prayers inside the neoclassical façade. Inside, tourists will appreciate the dimly lit nave with three domes, the statue of St Mary Magdalene and the organ. Nearby attractions include, Chapelle expiatoire, Palais Garnier and Place Vendôme. You can access La Madeleine via Metro lines 8, 12 and 14, stopping at Madeleine.
Make a trip to one or more of these churches
With so many churches to visit in Paris, it may be overwhelming to choose which ones are worth your time. Rest assured that the churches on this list were chosen based on their individual merits (architecture, artifacts, and art), as well for their proximity to other popular sites in Paris. In other words, you won’t have to go out of your way to find these churches. Make sure to visit at least one during your stay in Paris!
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