Eglise de Saint Germain des Pres (oldest church in Paris), Paris

Eglise de Saint Germain des Pres (oldest church in Paris), Paris

The oldest church in Paris, Saint-Germain-des-Prés was established by the son of Clovis I, Childebert I (ruled 511–558) on the site of a small marketplace, as the linchpin of an important abbey complex, and was meant to house the True Cross relic, brought from Spain in 542. In the Middle Ages, the church grew very influential as both a religious and cultural institution. Although eventually, the abbey was totally destroyed by the Normans, the church itself has survived with the suffix "des préso" indicating that it was out in the meadows beyond the city limits.

The church was enlarged and rededicated by Pope Alexander III in 1163, showcasing a fine example of Romanesque architecture. Its square tower, originally built in the early 11th century, now features a landmark spire from the 19th century. The interior of the church is adorned with a Romanesque nave and a Gothic choir featuring gilded capitals. The marble columns are the only remaining elements of the 6th-century abbey church, which once served as a pantheon for Merovingian kings. The pillars are carved with copies of the capitals, the originals of which are kept in the Musée National du Moyen-Age.

Why You Should Visit:
Upon entering this church, the colorful walls and ceiling immediately catch your attention with their beauty. Additionally, the small park outside provides a peaceful spot to sit and relax for a while.
As with many Parisian churches, concerts and recitals, often featuring Gregorian chant, take place here, taking advantage of the church's fantastic acoustics and medieval ambiance.

Tip:
Once inside, be sure and let your eyes travel from the base of the columns all the way to the ceiling. Every inch/centimeter is decorated!

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Paris. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Eglise de Saint Germain des Pres (oldest church in Paris) on Map

Sight Name: Eglise de Saint Germain des Pres (oldest church in Paris)
Sight Location: Paris, France (See walking tours in Paris)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Paris, France

Create Your Own Walk in Paris

Create Your Own Walk in Paris

Creating your own self-guided walk in Paris is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Le Marais Walking Tour

Le Marais Walking Tour

The district known to locals as "Le Marais" used to be a bourgeois area in the past and a major center of the Paris Jewish community that still exists today. Here, you will find different bookshops specializing in Jewish books, restaurants with traditional Jewish food and a synagogue. As one of the hippest neighborhoods in the city, it also has no shortage of narrow medieval streets,...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 Km or 1.5 Miles
Paris Introduction Walking Tour I

Paris Introduction Walking Tour I

The capital of France takes its name from the Celtic tribe of Parisii who, back in the Iron Age, around the 3rd century BC, settled near the river Seine. The Romans conquered the Parisii and established on their land a garrison town which, towards the end of the 5th century AD, fell to the Franks and flourished under their rule. Despite wars, revolutions and numerous social cataclysms, Paris had...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.1 Km or 3.2 Miles
Montmartre Walking Tour

Montmartre Walking Tour

Originally named “Mons Martis”, meaning the “Mount of Mars”, Montmartre is one of the most famous and visited neighborhoods in Paris. Beyond the Sacré-Coeur, the Moulin Rouge and notable landmarks, the district is also about the atmosphere, the narrow streets, and the artsy culture that has made Paris famous. Once home to artists such as Monet, Picasso and Van Gogh, Montmartre continues...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
Paris Introduction Walking Tour II

Paris Introduction Walking Tour II

From the Louvre to the Notre-Dame Cathedral to Place de la Bastille, the evolution of Paris and its history is literally visible on the banks of the river Seine, the linking thread winding its way through the city, as if keeping a watchful eye on its architectural marvels.

This walk is centered around Île de la Cité and Le Marais, which together form the historical core of power in Paris....  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.4 Km or 2.7 Miles
The French Revolution Landmarks Walking Tour

The French Revolution Landmarks Walking Tour

The French Revolution had a huge impact on France's history as it gave rise to a radical democratic republic and resulted in quite a bit of violence during the infamous "Reign of Terror". Even though many of Paris’ buildings were damaged in the course of the bloody conflicts, the sites they occupied – which you can find on this self-guided tour – are of a great historical...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.3 Km or 4.5 Miles
Champs-Elysees Walking Tour

Champs-Elysees Walking Tour

On this self-guided walk you will witness the grandeur of the 8th arrondissement of the French capital – one of its busiest and chic neighborhoods, thanks to the presence of Avenue des Champs-Elysées, Arc de Triomphe, and Place de la Concorde.

Your best plan would be to start with the Triumphal Arch and walk up to its viewing area for great sights down the Champs-Élysées – a lovely...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.7 Km or 2.9 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


10 Unusual Things to Do in Paris, France

10 Unusual Things to Do in Paris, France

If you've visited Paris, you've probably seen the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and Versailles. You probably whizzed through some world-class art, ate delicious food in restaurants with English menus, and bought crepes from a street cart. However, Paris has a lot of things to do that...
18 Must-Visit Cafes in Paris, France

18 Must-Visit Cafes in Paris, France

Paris is home to thousands of cafes; there is a café on practically every street corner you turn, in every square you stumble across, on every boulevard you stroll along. The age-old Parisian tradition of sitting around at rickety tables and shooting back espressos is a fundamental part of everyday...
8 Best Food Markets in Paris for Authentic French Produce

8 Best Food Markets in Paris for Authentic French Produce

The image of Parisians that you may have in your head as strolling through a colourful market with a basket on their arm, chatting to vendors and picking up fresh produce, is quite accurate. Most Parisians do visit local markets at least once a week to stock up on the freshest fruit, vegetables,...
Top 16 Vegetarian Restaurants in Paris

Top 16 Vegetarian Restaurants in Paris

The French have great respect for the fresh, organic produce yet France isn’t famous for its vegetarian cooking. Hence it’s a good idea for vegetarian visitors to Paris to come prepared in advance. This guide shows you places around the city which serve vegetarian food, complete with the...
Paris Souvenirs: 19 Distinctively French Products to Bring Home from Paris

Paris Souvenirs: 19 Distinctively French Products to Bring Home from Paris

You can hardly have enough money and luggage space to get all the takes your fancy in Paris. Luckily, with a little bit of tasteful advice and experience, you can save yourself some time and effort and pick up just about the right amount of things worth taking home. Listed here are some of the hints...
15 Places for Tasting Best French Desserts in Paris

15 Places for Tasting Best French Desserts in Paris

If you have a sweet tooth and it wishes to "eat your way" through Paris, this guide will show you how! Featured here are some of the most famous and prominent dessert spots in the French capital, where you can grab something sweet to enjoy. With 20 listed recommendations, you should be...