How many Parisian churches do you know? It is more likely that you’ve heard of Notre Dame of Paris but not of Saint Augustin Church (am I wrong?).
Many other (perhaps more impressive) religious monuments in Paris don’t get the recognition they deserve.
After all, Paris is famous for great food, fancy brands, and…beautiful churches!
Parisian churches are plentiful, and their construction was prevalent from the 6th to the 19th century.
Churches in Paris in the central arrondissements showcase flamboyant Gothic architecture, yet some have elements of Ancient Greek and Roman style or even Byzantine elements.
Whether planning a trip to Paris, trying to escape a rainy day while in the city, or simply reading to learn more about French culture and architecture, this post will surely give you what you need to know about all of Paris’ famous churches.
18 Beautiful Parisian Churches That Will Mesmerize You
Here are the 18 most beautiful churches in Paris in random order.
1. Église Saint-Sulpice
At the end of a narrow, winding street on the left bank in the 6th arrondissement, you will find the imposing Saint-Sulpice – the second-largest church in Paris.
Begun in 1646, this church was not completed until 1870 – which explains the eclectic, baroque architecture and mismatched towers.
At the center of the square, in front of the church, you are met with a massive fountain, the Fontaine des Quatre Points Cardinaux, erected in 1844.
Inside, you are overwhelmed by the famous Delacroix fresco, Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, as well as the famous pipe organ.
Today, many visitors come to Saint-Sulpice precisely to follow the clues found in Dan Brown’s, The Da Vinci Code (also one of the great movies set in Paris).
2. Basilica of Sacré-Coeur
Located at the apex of the artist community of Montmartre in the 18th arrondissement, the Basilica of Sacré-Coeur is an iconic Parisian landmark and popular tourist destination.
Completed in 1910 and constructed with white travertine stone, it represents the Romano-Byzantine style.
Unlike most French churches dedicated to Mary, the Sacré-Coeur pays homage to Jesus’ Sacred Heart and has often been the starting point for many pilgrimages.
Influenced by San Sofia in Istanbul and San Marco in Venice, this shimmering, white landmark is dominated by its massive dome.
Inside, France’s devotion to Jesus is represented in the awe-inspiring and one of the world’s largest mosaics, Christ in Majesty.
While a visit to the church is free of charge (and honestly, it is one of the best free things to do in Paris), a fee is asked to climb to the top of the dome – the highest point in the city, which offers beautiful Eiffel Tower views!
When visiting the Île de la Cité, we often focus more on Notre Dame, not realizing that a small, gothic, French jewel is just a few steps away.
The exquisite Sainte-Chapelle was constructed in the 13th century by Louis IX, who wanted a special place to house his relics from the Passion of Christ – including the Crown of Thorns.
These relics have since been moved, but the lofty, color-rich stained glass windows exhibiting biblical stories from the Old and New Testaments make this one of the best places to visit in Paris.
Without a doubt, this Gothic church is a landmark of Paris that will take your breath away. And if you have time, try to attend an evening concert.
The spiritual music, resonating through soaring, gothic arches, and colored windows, will be an experience of a lifetime!
Read next: Best Time to Visit Paris
4. Église Saint-Germain-des-Prés
First, we have the Église Saint-Germain-des-Prés located in a quarter that goes by the same name within Paris’ 6th arrondissement, also known as part of the Latin Quarter.
Built in the 6th century AD by Childebert I, son of Clovis. Clovis was known as the King of the Franks (and what was to later become France).
Over the years, the church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés became part of a much greater abbey that featured a monastery, cemetery, and other religious sites.
The church underwent reconstruction in the 11th century. In the 12th century, it became the first church in the Île-de-France (the greater Paris area) to feature flying buttresses, an extending arch definitive of Gothic architecture.
Over the following years, the greater abbey underwent various developments, from restorations to new buildings being added and some being completely demolished.
Still, the church exhibits mostly Gothic style with some influence of Romanesque architecture, owing to the Roman Catholic denomination’s influence.
5. Église Saint-Etienne-du-Mont
The Église Saint-Etienne-du-Mont forms part of the Sainte-Geneviève abbey, founded by Clovis, the King of the Franks mentioned above.
With its origins tracing back to the 6th century, the church and abbey underwent several additional constructions and reconstructions due to damage from religious wars. Still, builders completed the main part at the end of the 15th century.
After the revolution, the church became a symbol of the glories of France.
L’Église Saint-Etienne-du-Mont is also built in the Latin Quarter and features styles ranging from flamboyant Gothic architecture, featuring ogives of this sort, and Renaissance style.
6. Église Saint-Gervais Saint-Protais
The Parisian church of Saint-Gervais Saint-Protais is located in the 4th arrondissement close to the Marais quarter.
Constructed in the final years of the 15th century to replace a previously desecrated church in the same location, Saint-Gervais Saint-Protais of Paris has a Gothic architecture similar to the two mentioned before. Note that other churches in France are going by the same name.
7. Église Saint-Eustache
The Saint-Eustache church is another Gothic-style church located close to the Louvre in the 1st arrondissement of Paris.
It is a 17th-century church hence despite its flamboyant Gothic exterior, the interior is starkly characterized by French Renaissance and Classical style decorations.
8. Église Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois
The church of Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois is also located in the 1st arrondissement and is named after one of the Pope’s envoys, Germanus of Auxerre.
He met Saint Genevieve in his journeys, who was said to have converted the King of the Franks (Clovis) to Christianity.
The groundwork is from the 13th century, and the building was finalized in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Like most Parisian churches, Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois exhibits iconic French Gothic architecture, stylized with impressive stained glass windows.
One can still see some traces of Romanesque architecture in the lower portion of the church’s bell tower.
Since the 2019 Notre-Dame fires, regular church services have been held at this church situated across from the Louvre.
9. Basilique Sainte-Clotilde
One of the younger basilicas constructed in Paris, the Basilique Sainte-Clotilde, was erected in the 19th century.
Named after Clovis’ wife, Clotilde, you can find this basilica in the 7th arrondissement of Paris.
Saint-Clotilde is one of the first basilicas to return to the authentic French gothic style after the Renaissance and features iconic stained glass, paintings, and other ornamentations reminiscent of the Middle Ages.
10. Église Saint-Paul Saint Louis
L’Église Saint-Paul Saint Louis is the first in this list of churches in Paris that isn’t built in traditional Gothic architecture; in fact, it is the first of all Parisian churches to abandon the Gothic style and rather embrace that of the Baroque.
Builders completed the church’s construction in the 17th century and belonged to the Jesuits until the monarchy banished them a century later.
11. Église de la Madeleine
L’Église de la Madeleine (or simply, the Madeleine – no, not the kind you find at the bakery) is a Catholic church in the 8th arrondissement of Paris.
This Parisian church’s construction lasted from the 18th to 19th century; hence, due to the power shifts of the era epitomized by the French Revolution and the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte, one of the most famous French people, it exhibits various architectural elements.
Firstly, it was intended by Louis XV to be built in a similar style to l’Hôtel des Invalides, displaying an extravagant Baroque-style dome.
After the French Revolution, Bonaparte was redesigned in a Neoclassical style, reminiscent of ancient Greek or Roman architecture – almost like a modern-day Pantheon.
The 54 Corinthian columns on its exterior make it a sight to behold.
12. Église Saint-Louis-en-l’Île
Located in the 4th arrondissement, L’Église Saint-Louis-en-l’Île is a Baroque church in Paris designed in the French Baroque style – definitive of 17th-century architecture – and its construction finished in the early 18th century.
Since extensive reconstruction followed the French Revolution, some parts may have a more modern Baroque aesthetic.
Though all cathedrals in Paris hold a strong historical and religious significance, the church of Saint-Louis-en l’Île is special.
From here, King Louis and his troops set off in 1269, during the 7th Crusade, to join his holy knights and defend Jerusalem.
During this journey, King Louis bought a part of Christ’s crown of Thorns, which is displayed in Sainte-Chapelle, the Notre Dame, and now in the Louvre.
13. Église Saint-Nicolas-des-Champs
L’Église Saint-Nicolas-des-Champs is another of the Parisian churches displaying a mix of architectural styles, combining Flamboyant Gothic with Renaissance architecture.
The combination is because some parts (Gothic) were built in the 15th century, while later portions were constructed in the 16th century. This cathedral lies in Paris’ 3rd arrondissement.
14. Église Val-de-Grace
Completed in the mid-17th century, the Val-de-Grace church was built by Anne of Austria, only to later be used as the facilities of a military hospital during the French Revolution.
In the late 20th century, the hospital moved to another location, but the church remains home to a museum for the Army Health Services and other medical-related administrations.
The architecture is somewhat interesting because it looks more like a castle than a church.
While the main facades owe a lot to classical Roman and Latin architectural styles, the church’s dome has starkly Baroque-Esque elements. You can find L’Église Val-de-Grace in Paris’ 5th arrondissement.
15. Église Saint-Séverin
Again, in the 5th arrondissement, you can find the Parisian church Saint-Séverin in all of its Roman-Catholic glory.
Constructed in the 13th century, this church had to be rebuilt in the 15th century following a fire and later enlarged in the 17 century to cater to the growing population.
L’Église Saint-Séverin is built according to the Flamboyant Gothic architectural style.
Like most Parisian churches, the church of Sain-Séverin holds a daily mass and hosts various events.
Most notable are the popular classical music concerts that the church hosts during December and January, all played on the church’s 18th-century organ.
16. Cathédrale Saint-Alexandre Nevsky
Here we have an interesting one: Cathédrale Saint-Alexandre Nevsky, the first on this list of Russian Orthodox origin.
Located in the 8th arrondissement, this cathedral in Paris was finished in the 19th century.
It is reminiscent of Byzantine architecture, but since it has modern features and was recently constructed, we’ll refer to its style as Neo-Byzantine.
Donations and subscriptions from the Russian Tsar Alexander II financed the cathedral’s construction. Its purpose was to serve as a place of worship for the growing Russian population in Paris.
This Parisian church is a symbol of the growing relationship between Russia and France during the time (also highlighted, for instance, by using French in Russian literature, such as Dostoyevsky’s works).
17. Église Saint Augustin
The Église Saint Augustin was constructed in the 19th century and introduced another semi-Byzantine architectural design to Paris’ vast religious sites.
More specifically, by combining Roman and Byzantine elements, this church has a more eclectic architecture.
You can find this church in the 8th arrondissement of Paris.
18. Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris (Notre-Dame Cathedral)
Perhaps the most well-known cathedral in Paris, La Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, epitomizes the French Gothic architectural style.
Located in the 4th arrondissement on a little island in the Seine river, the construction of this monumental church was finished by the mid-14th century.
Popularised by Victor Hugo’s novel of the same name, the Notre Dame of Paris is a true icon of French culture.
The Notre Dame, however, doesn’t owe all of its beauty to the works of Hugo and the more famous adaptation by Disney.
Its intricate design, paired with visually striking rib vaults and flying buttresses (not to mention the immense church bells), made it the most well-known cathedral in Paris.
Though Notre Dame is still undergoing restoration following the 2019 fire, it will reopen in 2024.
Wrapping Up on Parisian Churches
It’s a wrap! We hope you enjoyed learning more about these historic churches of Paris.
These Parisian churches are incredibly old, many dating from the time Louis SIV was king.
Still, they are part of the cultural heritage of the city and are must-sees while in town, so don’t forget to include them in your Paris itinerary.
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