With Our Lady under construction for the long term, here are some other churches that are worth your while in Paris!
In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Notre-Dame is currently under construction after a devastating fire in April 2019. If you have a trip to Paris in the works and you’re a little disappointed that you won’t get to visit the church, I totally understand! The fire was something that everyone in Paris felt the repercussions from, and we are all patiently awaiting it’s renovations.
In the meantime, (and also if you’ve already visited the Notre-Dame and are looking for some other sites to see!) I’ve got a round up of the 5 best churches in Paris!
1. l’Église de Saint-Germain-des-Près
This is one of my favorite churches in Paris, if only for its location in the Saint-Germain-des-Près neighborhood. When I first moved to Paris as a student, this is where I lived! It’s filled with chic boutiques, antique stores, and of course, cafés and restaurants.
The mythic Café de Flore, Les Deux Magots and the Brasserie Lipp are located just outside the church, and if you’re also a literature fan I definitely recommend you check them out. The likes of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein were all known to haunt these places back in the 1920s and 30s!
Anyways, back to the church! The Église de Saint-Germain-des-Près was founded back in the 6th century by king Childebert I. Construction finished the year that the king died, in 558, so he was sadly unable to see the finished product. When things took so long to build back then, what could you expect?!
The church was originally built to house a religious artifact (Saint Vincent’s stole) that king Childbert brought back from time spent in Spain with his army, as the two countries were at war at the time. When the church was completed, it was dedicated by Bishop Germain, who was the bishop of Paris at the time.
The Église de Saint-Germain-des-Près was originally a large religious complex which housed monks and nuns. After the French Revolution, the only thing that remains of the complex was the church! This historical aspect is one of the reasons why this church has made my list.
Address: 3 Place Saint-Germain des Prés, 75006 Paris
2. Le Sacre Coeur Basilica
The Sacre Coeur is located in another great part of Paris: Montmartre! It is also situated on the highest point in Paris, which means great views of the city as well. This church happens to be the second most visited monument in Paris, just behind the Notre-Dame.
Something that I personally love about the Sacre Coeur is its unique architecture in comparison to the traditionally gothic cathedrals in France. It is designed in what is called a “Romano-Byzantine” style, and features white stones that are actually self-cleaning.
The construction of the Sacre Coeur was a bit of a controversy, as many French citizens were unhappy that so much money was going into the construction. To solve this problem, the French government called for donations in order to build the church. It cost around 7 million francs (1 million euros) to complete the project, which was funded completely by private donations! Construction finished in 1919, making it the youngest church on my list.
Inside the Basilica, you’ll find the largest mosaic in France, in additional to the largest bell in France which is housed in the principal bell tower. Climb to the top of the tower to see some absolutely gorgeous views of the city.
Address: 1 Parvis du Sacré-Cœur, 75018 Paris
3. La Madeleine
No, I’m not talking about those delicious French cakes. I’m talking about La Madeleine church! Nestled in between La Place de la Concorde and the Opéra Garnier, La Madeleine was originally built as a temple to honor the glory of Napoleon’s army. If you know a little bit about Mr. Bonaparte, you know how obsessed he was with the military, and bragging about all of his accomplishments in the form of crazy monuments. Have you ever heard of a little thing called the Arc du Triomphe?! Yeah, you can thank Napoleon for that as well!
La Madeleine was based on the designs of Roman temples. Napoleon also had a little bit of a thing for Ancient Rome. The church was completed and opened in 1842.
As you can imagine, the interior of La Madeleine is vast, and has a definite Ancient Roman vibe. Masses are still held daily, so make sure to be respectful when you go inside. There is also a massive fresco on the ceiling.
But, before you do enter, make sure you take a look at all of the architectural details on the outside of the structure! Engravings, sculptures, statues and columns line the exterior of the building.
Address: Place de la Madeleine, 75008 Paris
4. La Sainte-Chapelle
The Sainte-Chapelle was once a royal chapel in the ancient Palais de la Cité, the area where the French nobility lived during the Middle Ages. The chapel was finished in 1248, and served as the place to worship for the kings and queens of France until about the 14th century.
Before Jesus’ Crown of Thorns was eventually moved to the Notre-Dame, the artifact was housed inside the Sainte-Chapelle. However, the chapel is probably most famous for its impressive stained glass windows. It is considered the most well-preserved example of 13th century stained glass in the world!
The chapel was damaged a bit during the French Revolution, but was then restored in the 19th century. We always recommend checking out the concerts at the Sainte-Chapelle. It’s such a special experience to listen to music in such a beautiful place! The stained glass windows are also just a great extra that really make this church stand above the rest.
Address: 8 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris
5. Les Invalides
Les Invalides is a complex in the 7th arrondissement that houses the Église du Dôme, Napoleon’s tomb, and the Army Museum. You’ll find the tomb within the church.
In addition to Napoleon, there are some other military heros that are buried within the church. King Louis XIV is responsible for the construction of the complex. After one too many wars and battles, Louis XIV recognized the need for a military hospital dedicated to war veterans. Thus, the construction of Les Invalides began. Soon, a chapel was included as a place of worship for the former soldiers. The large golden dome was installed as a separate place of worship for nobility. The Église du Dôme was born!
You could definitely spend a good part of your day at Les Invalides. Make sure to give yourself enough time to explore the Église du Dôme as well!
Address: Rond-Point du Bleuet de France, 75007 Paris
Metro: École Militaire / Varenne / La Tour Maubourg
Book a custom church tour with Sight Seeker’s Delight and explore any of these monuments with our expert guides! Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can 🙂
Have you been to all of the churches on my list? Do you want to go, after reading this article?! I hope so!
Let me know in the comments below any of your own experiences in the churches above, or if I’ve left some really important ones out!
Until then…happy exploring!