If you’ve been to Paris, you’ve probably visited the iconic Notre-Dame and Sacre-Coeur Basilica. While these cathedrals are spectacular, there are some overlooked churches and cathedrals in Paris that are worth your time as well. Many of these, although they may be recognized, can be overshadowed by the tourist highlights. Here are some endearing and perhaps, missed, cathedrals and churches you may want to seek out.
Cathedral Basilica of Saint-Denis
Located: 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur
93200, Saint-Denis, France
This Gothic basilica, now cathedral, is named after the bishop Saint-Denis. It is the burial site for several kings and queens of France, making it unique to other cathedrals in Paris. It contains the tombs of 43 kings, 32 queens, and 10 servants. Wandering inside the cathedral provides a feeling of eerie reverence one can only encounter from being in the ghostly presence of French royalty. The light inside the cathedral is daunting and beautiful, adding to the splendor of Saint-Denis. Be sure to take note of the royals that are laid to rest here, including Marie Antoinette.
Located: 3 Rue des Prêtres Saint-Séverin, 75005 Paris, France
Saint-Severin is home to the oldest bell in Paris, dating back to the 15th century. In Gothic flamboyant style, Saint-Severin is often overlooked in the Latin Quarter because of its close proximity to Notre-Dame. I’ll admit, this church was one I happened upon by convenience, looking for shelter on a rainy day. It is quiet, peaceful, and lacking the tourist crowds you’ll find just steps away. One detail to take note of is the 18th century organ that deems Saint-Severin a center of sacred music.
Want to learn and see more of Saint-Severin? Check out this this tour by Corey Frye, A French Frye in Paris.
Located: 2 Rue Palatine, 75006 Paris, France
Saint-Sulpice is a 17th-century Roman Catholic church, and one of the largest churches in Paris. It contains three Delacroix paintings, a statue of Jean-Baptise Pigalle, and a large organ. Saint Sulpice is in the heart of the 6th arrondissement and is predominantly recognized by the facade of its two towers. Saint-Sulpice was also host to author Victor Hugo’s wedding! Fans of The Da Vinci Code will also want to observe the meridian line inside the church. The meridian line was used to study astronomy and determine calendar dates for centuries.
Located: 2 Impasse Saint-Eustache, 75001 Paris, France
Although it may seem to be a cathedral, Saint-Eustache is actually a church with plenty of magnificence. Built in 1532, Saint-Eustache is a mix of Gothic, Renaissance, and Classical styles. It was the last Gothic-style church to be built in Paris. For over 800 years, Saint-Eustache allowed access for a productive market in the Les Halles neighborhood. It houses significant art, massive architectural proportions, and the largest pipe organ in France (8,000 pipes)!
To see more of Saint-Eustache, watch this this tour by Corey Frye, A French Frye in Paris.
Located: Place Sainte-Geneviève, 75005 Paris, France
If you’ve seen Midnight in Paris, you will immediately recognize the iconic steps of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont. Although they probably won’t transport you to historic Paris, they will enchant you, along with the rest of the church. Saint-Etienne-du-Mont is located in the Latin Quarter, just steps away from the Pantheon. The shrine to St. Genevieve, patron saint of Paris, is located inside. Additionally, check out the last existing rood screen in Paris that dates back to 1545.
What’s your favorite church or cathedral in Paris? Are there any others you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments!
Whichever ones you choose to pay a visit to, take a moment to light a candle, admire the stained glass, and sit in reverence of the beauty surrounding you. Every church, cathedral, and basilica in Paris is filled with history. You can almost feel the presence of those who ventured there before and the special piece of Paris they left behind.
As always, travel far and travel often. Au Revoir!