Why you should visit the Abbey of Saint Germain-des-Pres in Paris

Abbey of Saint Germain-des-Pres

Located in the popular Saint Germain-des-Pres area of Paris (6th arrondissement), the Abbey of Saint Germain-des-Pres is one of the oldest churches in Paris with parts of the church dating back to Roman times.

Alcove in the Abbey of Saint Germain-des-Pres

© 2016 The Paris Itinerary

The Abbey is a mix of different architectural styles due to its long history of renovations but has the familiar cavernous sanctuary and soaring arches as well as beautiful wall frescoes and some amazing trompe l’oeil. You will notice the the “mason work” is really painted outlines to look like stone.

Abbey of Saint Germain-des-Pres frescoes

Painted frescoes – ©2016 The Paris Itinerary

Abbey of Saint Germain-des-Pres trompe-loeil

Trompe l’oeil on the walls of the Abbey of Saint Germain-des-Pres – ©2016 The Paris Itinerary

Why you should visit:

  • Being one of (if not the) oldest church in Paris, you can view the many histories of Paris in its architecture.
  • Rarely busy (as in I have never had to wait in line to enter), this is an easy pop in and see site of Paris. It is also located directly across the street from Les Deux Magots (and a few more steps from Cafe de Flore) so after you have sipped your cafe au lait and finished your croissant, stroll over and see this magnificent church.
  • You may be treated to organ practice. On my last visit, I enjoyed some lovely organ music as I explored.

Practical info:

  • FREE. Abbey of Saint-Germain-de-Pres is still an active church so entrance is free although donations are accepted.
  • Free guided tours are every Tuesday and Thursday at 3pm according to their website. However, Google showed Tuesday’s tour being at 11am…well it is France and everything is subject to change.
  • If you miss the guided tour and really want a guide, there is an audio guide available on Google Play and Apple Store. There is a fee for the app download.
  • You don’t need a guide (in person or audio) to enjoy this lovely church.
Eglise de Saint Germain-des-Pres

The Abbey of Saint Germain-des-Pres           ©2016 The Paris Itinerary

How to get there:

  • Address: 3 Place Saint-Germain des Pres 75006 (6th arrondissement)
  • Metro stop: Saint Germain des Pres
  • Directly across the street from Les Deux Magots

I hope you add the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Pres to your Paris itinerary. Just like Sainte Chapelle is an easy add on visit if seeing Notre Dame, the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Pres is an easy add-on if visiting the Saint Germain des Pres area and especially if you are stopping at the famous Les Deux Magots or Cafe de Flore cafes.

Have you visited the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Pres? What did you think?

Bises (kisses),
Kimberly

Why you should visit Sainte Chapelle Cathedral in Paris

Sainte-Chapelle-Paris

Visiting Sainte Chapelle in Paris

One of the top visited sites in Paris is the Gothic cathedral of Notre Dame but located about 5 minutes away is another must see cathedral: Sainte Chapelle.

Saint-Chapelle-in-Paris

Sainte Chapelle facade

Also an example of Gothic architecture, Sainte Chapelle is a building marvel comprised of 15 stain glass windows that are each 15 meters high (a little over 49 feet). Built at the request of King Louis IX, this place of worship was constructed in an astonishing 7 years compared to the nearly 200 years it took to construct Notre Dame.

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The stain glass windows of Sainte Chapelle in Paris

The stain glass windows tell the story of the Bible from creation in Genesis to the Passion of Christ. Amazingly, the majority of the glass windows are original! Pretty impressive considering the church is over 750 years old. A little side note, each pane of glass was carefully removed during WWII to protect them.

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Ceiling at Sainte Chapelle in Paris

There are two floors although the cathedral is fairly small. The top floor with the stain glass windows was the private worship area for the King and his entourage. The lower level was for the palace staff and others of court not invited to the upper floor. Even the lower level is quite a work of art and very different than the soaring upper floor so don’t skip it. There is also a balcony off of the upper level that is on occasion open for visitors to step out on.

Balcony-door-Sainte-Chapelle

The balcony door

Why you should visit:

  • Sainte Chapelle is so close to Notre Dame that visiting is an easy “add-on” to your itinerary while you are on Ile de la Cite.
  • The stain glass windows. They are breathtaking – even on a cloudy day.
Sainte-Chapelle-rose-window

The rose window at Sainte Chapelle in Paris

Practical info:

  • You can buy your ticket on-line and it is valid for one year from the purchase date (be sure to check their website for any updates to this). Tickets can be printed at home or shown on your mobile device. There is a convenience fee for buying on-line but bypassing the line is worth it.
  • Part of the Paris Pass. Be sure to check the Paris Pass for any updates on how your pass can be used at Sainte Chapelle.
  • Even if you do not have an advance ticket, everyone has to go through security and so don’t let the line deter you from visiting.
  • There is an entrance fee (unless using the Paris Pass) because Sainte Chapelle is no longer an “active” church.
Sainte-Chapelle-wall-decorations

The wall decorations in Sainte Chapelle in Paris

How to get there:

  • Address: 8 Boulevard du Palais on the Ile de Cite
  • Metro stop: Cite
  • Directions from Notre Dame: With the front of Notre Dame behind you, walk away from the cathedral and towards the building straight ahead. Then go around the building on the left side. This will be Quai du Marche Neuf and you will be walking along the Seine River. On the corner at Boulevard du Palais, you will see the restaurant Le Soleil D’or (see bonus tip), turn right and Sainte Chapelle will be about half way down the street

Bonus tip:  Le Soleil D’Or sells the famous Bertillon ice cream out of a corner window.

I hope you add Sainte Chapelle to your Paris itinerary. If you do visit the cathedral, I’d love to hear what you thought of it.

Bises (kisses),

Kimberly

Exploring Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame may not be one of the wonders of the world but it should be! Every inch is covered with something amazing to see. Like most of Paris, it is dripping with history and the cathedral is a great example of Gothic architecture.

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Side view of Notre Dame

Here are some highlights to check out on your visit: Continue reading

Notre Dame Cathedral as seen from a Seine River cruise

A great way to really appreciate Notre Dame’s Gothic glory is from below.

This video shows the beautiful, brooding architecture of the cathedral from a night cruise on the Seine River.

 

Bises (kisses),

Kimberly

When Serendipity Happens: Attending Mass at Notre Dame

One of my favorite things about travel is when something good unexpectedly happens.

While visiting Notre Dame, my mom and I were walking around the inside perimeter of the cathedral, taking it all in, when it was announced a Mass service was soon to begin. Always wanting to attend a Mass service, we couldn’t believe our timing and decided to participate.

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Before Mass starts at Notre Dame.

Continue reading