Travel, Teach, Live in Europe and Middle East
If you are visiting or living in Europe, you owe it to yourself to take a tour of the churches of Paris. There are literally hundreds of beautiful churches, with each district or neighborhood having at least one to call their own. Many of these churches are hundreds of years old and are steeped in history. A weekend trip to Paris can provide a wonderful opportunity to take a tour of a few of these stately and beautiful structures.
Cathedral de Notre-Dame de Paris
No doubt the most famous church in Paris, you simply have to pay a visit. Most people visiting Paris will pay a visit to this beautiful church, so you should expect a bit of a crowd. The construction of this church began in 1160, but it wasn't completed until a century and a half later. Throughout the years, the bishop of Paris crowned the king of France in this church. The structure has stories from the Bible depicted everywhere, through the use of ornate carvings, beautiful stained glass windows and paintings. Since the church was built during a time when illiteracy was commonplace, these pictures played an important role in the church. The exterior of the church is equally beautiful, with its many carvings, gargoyles and interesting architectural structures. If you're lucky, your visit might coincide with one of the many free music events that are often scheduled in the church.
Basilique du Sacre-Coeur (Basilica of the Sacred Heart)
This beautiful church is considered to be one of the major symbols of France. It is perched on a hilltop, providing a beautiful view of Paris. By French standards, this building is quite new, having been built only a century ago. However, it is one of the most visible features of the city's skyline. Today, the neighborhood surrounding the church tends to attract a lot of tourists. From the bell tower, you will have a spectacular panoramic view of the surrounding area. Visiting the dome will require you to climb a lot of stairs, but the view is definitely worth the effort. This church was originally popularized by the many artists who lived in the neighborhood.
L'Eglise Saint-German-des-Pres, Paris
This is one church that you cannot miss visiting. It is the oldest church in Paris, having been built in the 11th century. Its square bell tower is quite unique, and is quite different from the spires and towers of more recently built churches. The interior is beautifully Romanesque, thanks to a restoration during the 19th century. This of course makes the interior appearance quite different than what it was when it was originally built, but since it is such a well-used and well-loved church, it was inevitable that it would have been modernized somewhat throughout the years.
Tips to Follow
Although you may be simply touring these beautiful churches, it's important to remember that many people are here for the purpose of worship and reflection. Always be courteous and quiet, and refrain from using flash photography. It's also customary for men to remove their hats before entering a church.