Monday, August 28, 2006

Sainte Chappelle

St. Chappelle, considered by many guidebooks to be one of the best churches in Paris, is located on Ile de la Cite. Although I have been here for a year, I saw it for the first time last Sunday. I must say, I have been building it up in my mind for quite a while and was more than a little disappointed. Yes, there are tons of stained glass windows and yes, the majority of the bible is displayed on these windows, but it just seemed so small.

I love churches; being in Europe and seeing all the churches I have read about all my life is really a treat for me, but maybe I have seen too many, because I was just not very wowed by this one. I am sure St. Chappelle is fantastic in the morning or evening sun, but the sun was being very stubborn on Sunday and refused to shine at all. I didn't get the full majestic feel of the place because it was dark.

The history of this church is very interesting though. Louis IX (St. Louis) supposedly bought the Crown of Thorns and part of the cross from Constantinople in 1241 and commissioned the church as a place to display the relics. Oddly enough, the relics cost almost 3 times the amount of the construction of the church. During the revolution, the church, because of its association with the monarchy, was severely damaged and most of the statues and spires were destroyed.

However, I am afraid the history is more interesting than the actual church. It is very small and if the sun isn't shining, the beauty of the stained glass windows is lost. As an amateur guide, I cannot recommend this church for three reasons: there is an unreasonable charge, the lines are long and it isn't nearly as impressive as Notre Dame (which is free and located only a few streets away).


Julie said...

Your pictures are very cool. The smallness makes it look like a little jewel box and it must kind of glow when the light is right.

But if the lines are long AND there is a charge, I'll probably take your advice and skip it. I cannot stand to wait in line.

Lotus Reads said...

I love churches, too, Angela, so this post was a real treat for me to read. But, ofcourse, if I'm ever in Paris, I guess I'm going to take your advice and skip it. There are so many things to do in Paris and if I'm there as a tourist I'll only have a limited amount of time.

Moment said...

It does look small but very pretty.
Can't believe they charge to see but I guess it's like that everywhere now.

Expat Traveler said...

interesting. I loved the pics but if it's not free, I guess I'd rather try taking pics in notre dame again instead.

(any new news... I'm really homesick

Anonymous said...

Sainte-Chappelle does have a very interesting history, but the church really is much more stunning than you might say; the lines appear long, but really because you are near the Palais de Justice only appear so because of security and really they take 15 minutes max. The charge really isn't unreasonable at all and you can only really see how stunning the church is by seeing it firsthand; pictures do abslutely no justice to the actual thing. It was a definite item on my to-do list and should be on yours, too. I believe your opinion of the church was much too critical and encourage other readers to keep this comment in mind when deciding whether to visit Sainte-Chapelle or not.

Meridith said...


I'm putting together a tour to England and France for the University I attend and would like to use of your pictures for a tour book that the students would use for a reference. Would that be ok?