Religious Sights Walking Tour (Self Guided), Paris

Paris is one of the cities that can fairly be considered a religious destination because of the number of churches that one is able to visit here. Reports show that, for instance, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, recorded 13.65 million visits in 2006, and the number is increasing every year. This is a self guided walk that includes some of the most beautiful Christian relics located in the center of Paris - the Latin Quarter.
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Religious Sights Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Religious Sights Walking Tour
Guide Location: France » Paris (See other walking tours in Paris)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
Author: karen
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Notre-Dame Cathedral
  • Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre
  • Saint-Séverin Church
  • Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet
  • Sorbonne Chapel
  • Saint-Sulpice
  • Saint-Germain-des-Prés
1
Notre-Dame Cathedral

1) Notre-Dame Cathedral (must see)

While the Eiffel Tower is an instantly recognizable symbol of France, the Notre-Dame Cathedral is a definitive symbol of Paris. At the time of its construction, it was the most ambitious French cathedral project ever attempted and, with its vaults rising above 33 meters, it held a national height record for several decades. The intrinsic beauty and architectural complexity of the cathedral has long made it an undisputed top landmark of Paris and an absolute must-see for visitors.

Largely completed in the 13th century, its construction took overall around 160 years, and thus can be attributed to an early-Gothic period. Following later attempts to modernize it in the 13th century, the final major round of work on the building came in the 19th century to repair the damage caused by brutal vandalism of the French Revolution. Nearly all of the cathedral's decorative elements seen today date back to that period.

Apart from the architectural side, another reason the Notre-Dame is so famous is “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” novel by Victor Hugo written in 1831. In the course of history, the cathedral has witnessed many glorious and tragic events. In the midst of the Second World War, upon the Fall of France, there were fears that the German invaders might destroy the freshly renovated stained glass of the Notre-Dame, called the Rose Window. To prevent that, a lion's portion of the glass was hidden and re-installed only after the war was over. Created in the 13th century, this world's biggest glass window recently has made headlines again after successfully surviving the devastating fire in April 2019, along with some other artifacts and relics which are now temporarily removed for safety reasons.

Regrettably, that fire completely destroyed certain parts of the building, like the roof and the historic spire. To rebuild the iconic monument, a major fundraising campaign has been launched managing to generate over $1bln. Hopes are high that after the 5 years projected for complete restoration, the Notre-Dame cathedral will reopen its doors once again in its renewed splendor.
2
Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre

2) Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre

Located less than 200 meters from Notre-Dame, Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre (French for "Saint Julian the Poor"), is a Melkite Greek Catholic parish church in Paris billed as the oldest church in Paris. Standing on the site of a refuge for pilgrims, whose origins went back at least as far as the 6th century, it was re-built in stages from the 12th to the 19th centuries and granted to the Melkite community in 1889.

Its original design, inspired by the Notre-Dame Cathedral, was modified several times, and the resulting church is significantly smaller in size than originally planned. The church's piers are based on those of Notre-Dame, and its capitals, all carved into foliage bar, form an impressive ensemble. At the ambulatory's centre is a curious, twisted column from which spring no less than 14 vault ribs; a similar profusion of ribs characterizes the remainder of its vaulting and forms a delirious shower of stone that has earned the ensemble comparisons with parasols and palm groves.

Décor-wise, Saint-Séverin is chiefly interesting for its stained glass, much of which is 15th century, and for the painted Last Judgement adorning the first chapel on the northern side.

The church gardens are well maintained and you will find the oldest tree growing in Paris. Also, a small fountain/sculpture dedicated to children.

Tip:
The church offers musical evenings. The quality of the performance is excellent and the price is quite reasonable (check their website for schedules).

Opening Hours:
Mon, Wed: 9am-12pm; Tue, Thu, Fri: 9am-4pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Saint-Séverin Church

3) Saint-Séverin Church

The Latin Quarter is full of historical monuments, and Saint-Séverin is one of the highlights. Its exterior architecture is quite imposing, solid, and unlike any other. Built in the late Middle Ages in the Flamboyant Gothic style, it is one of the oldest temples in Paris.

At the end of the 5th century, King of the Franks, Clovis, established a settlement on the island of Parissi. Eventually, it became known as Paris and was made the kingdom's capital. Clovis's wife together with Saint Genevieve were ardent Christians and persuaded the king to make Christianity the official religion of his domain. At that time, a hermit priest, called Séverin, also lived on the left bank. After his death, an oratory was built over his tomb. By the 11th century, a small church had been erected to replace the original tomb of the saint, which soon turned into a foremost religious site.

The key features of this church are the colorful ancient stained glass and a set of seven modern windows inspired by the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. Also deserving mention is the church's bell, the oldest in Paris; the odd column, designed in the shape of a trunk of a palm tree; its great organs and many beautiful paintings.

Despite being a historic and religious monument, the Saint-Séverin Church remains an active place of worship. It is free to enter and rarely crowded, but please be respectful if a mass is going on.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 11am-7:30pm; Sun: 9am-8:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet

4) Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet

Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet is a Roman Catholic Church in the center of Paris. Originally built in the 13th century, it has been reconstructed a handful of times over the centuries. The exterior facade is subtle and simple while the interior features some nice side chapels with large scale frescos. The High Altar and inner dome work are particular highlights. In the absence of a forward-facing altar, the original plan of the church, including the High Altar, can be seen without obstruction.

Saint Nicolas's organ originates from the old parochial church of Saints-Innocents and was built between 1723-25. Notably, famous harpsichordist Jean-Nicolas held a formal position of organist at the church. In 1961, the instrument was electrified and between 2007-09, it was rebuilt for the second time. One can still hear it, given the opportunity.

Since 1977, the church has been used by the Society of St. Pius X, which follows the traditional rites of the Roman Catholic church. As a result, mass is said in Latin here. On a typical Sunday, the church can have up to six masses served continuously, without interruption.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 7am-8:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Sorbonne Chapel

5) Sorbonne Chapel

The Chapel of Sainte Ursule de la Sorbonne, also known as the Sorbonne Chapel, is a Roman Catholic chapel located in the Sorbonne historical site, in Paris' Latin quarter.

Sorbonne Chapel was constructed from 1635 to 1642 by the famous architect Lemercier. The church has a Baroque facade and an elegant cupola that makes it look really big. The interior of the church is also quite impressive and the marble tomb of cardinal Richelieu lies within its walls.
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Saint-Sulpice

6) Saint-Sulpice

The Saint-Sulpice church is only slightly smaller than Notre-Dame and thus the 2nd largest church in Paris. Construction started in 1646, lasting 100 years until full completion. Today its grand architecture leaves one in awe. As a plus, the location is splendid with a beautiful square and a fountain outside, as well as the small winding lanes of St-Germain-des-Prés.

During the French Revolution, the church was badly damaged and converted into a “Temple of Victory.” Later, in the 19th century, it was fully restored and redecorated into a fine piece of architecture. During the day, sunlight pours inside the building through the large arched windows, revealing elegant columns that line the hall. A couple of enormous shells, resting on the rock-like bases, are present at either side of the front door. A fountain, displaying sculptures of four bishops of the Louis XIV era, stands in the church square.

The golden line, implanted in grey granite, which runs across the floor and bears graduated markings like a ruler, is a gnomon – a pagan astronomical device used as a sundial. The line was laid in 1727 by a clockmaker and astronomer in a bid to fix the date of Easter. Tourists, scientists, historians and pagans from around the world flock to the place just to see this now famous device.

Notably, in the movie "The Da Vinci Code", this is the church where the dreadful scary man came looking for The Grail and killed the pour wee custodian nun. It is also the church where Victor Hugo got married.

The Saint-Sulpice also houses one of the finest pipe organs in the world, with 6,500 pipes, 102 stops, and five layered keyboards. Even those who are not interested in organ music are amazed by the sheer size of the massive instrument reaching over 20 meters in height. If you have an ear for organ music, you should definitely attend this church on Sunday to hear one of its free weekly organ concerts.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 7:30am-7:30pm
Free guided tours available (see church website)
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Saint-Germain-des-Prés

7) Saint-Germain-des-Prés (must see)

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.

In 1163, it was expanded and re-consecrated by Pope Alexander III. The new building is an excellent example of Romanesque architecture. The square tower, dating back to the early 11th century, is topped by a 19th-century landmark spire. Inside the church are a Romanesque nave and a Gothic choir with gilded capitals. The marble columns are the only survivors of the 6th-century abbey church, which was once 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:
On entering this church you are struck by how colorful the walls and ceiling are. Very beautiful interior. Also, the small park space outside is a nice peaceful place to sit and relax for a while.
As with many Parisian churches, concerts and recitals are often held here, many featuring Gregorian chant – and enhanced by 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!

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 8am-7:45pm; Sun: 9am-8pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Paris, France

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Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
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Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 Km or 2.1 Miles
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Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 10.5 Km or 6.5 Miles
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Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
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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: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.9 Km or 4.9 Miles

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