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.
© 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.
Painted frescoes – ©2016 The Paris Itinerary
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.
- 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.
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?
Just like that one of my computer programs crashed. Hmph!
Since blog posts are best with pictures, I am delaying my post until I get things straightened out…which hopefully, won’t be very long.
Meantime, if you missed my last two posts in this series, here they are…
1.) Don’t get scammed!
2.) Why you should visit Sainte Chapelle Cathedral.
Also, be sure to join me on Facebook Live!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The rose window at Sainte Chapelle in Paris
- 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.
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.
When strolling the streets of Paris, it is hard not to miss the stunning old churches that dot the city. They are magnificent works of art in their own right and often have gorgeous frescoes painted by famous artists.
Unfortunately, Paris is known for the abundance of scam artists so it is important to know which churches have free entry like at Notre Dame and which churches have paid entry like at Sainte Chapelle. Once when I was visiting the Abbey of Saint Germain des Pres, a free entry church, a very official looking man tried to get me to pay to enter.
So that you aren’t scammed, here is how you tell the difference…if the church is “active” meaning the church still holds services and provides ministry to the people, it is a free church. Notre Dame is still an active church holding Mass and other services so entry to the church itself is free. There is a fee to visit the bell tower. Sainte Chapelle, however, is no longer an active church which is why there is a fee to enter.
You will find that most of churches in Paris are free entry and are a great budget friendly way to view the history, art and charm of the city.
Pro tip: Not glamorous but sure functional. When touring around Paris, I always wear a money belt with a little extra cash and a credit card in case I get pick pocketed. Buy yours here (affiliate link).*
*Disclaimer: The Paris Itinerary is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
If you decide to purchase anything through the affiliate links on this post, I will receive a small percentage of money from the company at no extra cost to you. Thank you in advance for supporting The Paris Itinerary.
Bonjour mes amis!
Return back from hiatus
It is almost time for the French tradition of “la rentree.” That time in the beginning of September when everyone returns back from the fun and sun of summer and gets back into the routine of fall.
Back in May, I announced that The Paris Itinerary was going on hiatus until September. My sweet dog had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and I needed (and wanted) to spend time caring for him.
Sadly, he did pass away this summer. He was such a great boxer and we miss him terribly.
I truly appreciate all the sweet words of support and condolences I received this summer.
The Paris Itinerary will be officially back in action this September kicking off “la rentree” with a series about visiting historic and magnificent churches of Paris. The ones that aren’t Notre Dame. 🙂
I look forward to seeing you then!