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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.