Paris is overflowing with monuments that would all deserve attention if we had enough time to visit them all. Some I particularly like are the little churches that don’t count among the most famous churches of Paris – such as Notre-Dame de Paris, Saint-Etienne-du-Mont or Saint-Sulpice – and are worth a detour if you have some particular interest in religious architecture. I’ve selected 4 churches that can be found around Notre-Dame, the Panthéon and Beaubourg : I’m sure there are many other beautiful churches to visit in Paris, but these four are some of my favourites, and they don’t require you to run across the entire city all day long to visit them. In fact, only 1 hour should be sufficient.
The first one (first picture in the article), Saint-Séverin, is located near Saint-Michel station. It was first built in the 13th century, and later modified according to the needs and tastes of the times. At first sight, it is quite a bleak church : nothing astounding from the outside, and quite dark on the inside. However, it hosts some beautiful architectural masterpieces, such as a palm-tree-shaped pillar in the ambulatory behind the choir. The stained glasses, by Jean-René Bazaine, are also worth a glimpse : when the sun shines, they give the place such a surreal atmosphere that you actually feel that you’re actually in the House of God.
The second one is Saint-Germain-des-Prés, not far from Saint-Sulpice. It is one of the oldest churches of Paris (built in the 10th century), which explains why it looks so austere, and why it is so dark inside. Most of its past splendour disappeared with the French Revolution, and for many years, it was used as a saltpetre factory, until it was restored in the middle of the 19th century. The painted walls of this church are incredible : a must-see for sure.
The third church is Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois, near Le Louvre. This church is magnificent from the outside, with its high gothic tower that dates back from the 19th century. It is one of the oldest churches of Paris (12th century, though it is built on an older church that dated back from the 6th century), and one of my favourite. Its beautiful facade, painted walls, stained glasses, its clarity… I find it to be one of the most beautiful churches of Paris. To visit, for sure.
The fourth and last church is Saint-Merri, near Beaubourg. It goes back from the 16th century, and is quite classical in its architecture. However, there’s something in this church that makes me visit it every time I happen to go to its district. Maybe the statue of Christ on the cross, which, when lit with the light of the sun coming through the stained glasses, is majestic.
All these churches are open everyday, and you should definitely not feel uncomfortable with entering them, even though you may not not catholic. Just be respectful, enter, and be curious.
NB : All these shots were done with a Nex 6 and a Carl Zeiss 24 f1.8. For the EXIF, you can click on the pictures and check them on Flickr.