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Paris Sights

Sainte-Chapelle

  • 4 bd. du Palais Map It
  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine
  • Fodor's Choice

Updated 02/19/2014

Fodor's Review

Built by the obsessively pious Louis IX (1226–70), this Gothic jewel is home to the oldest stained-glass windows in Paris. The chapel was constructed over three years, at phenomenal expense, to house the king's collection of relics acquired from the impoverished emperor of Constantinople. These included Christ's Crown of Thorns, fragments of the Cross, and drops of Christ's blood—though even in Louis's time these were considered of questionable authenticity. Some of

the relics have survived and can be seen in the treasury of Notre-Dame, but most were lost during the Revolution.

Highlights

The narrow spiral staircase by the entrance takes you to the upper chapel where the famed beauty of Sainte-Chapelle comes alive: 6,458 square feet of stained glass is delicately supported by painted stonework that seems to disappear in the colorful light streaming through the windows. Deep reds and blues dominate the background, noticeably different from later, lighter medieval styles such as those of Notre-Dame's rose windows.

The chapel is essentially an enormous magic lantern illuminating 1,130 biblical figures. Its 15 windows—each 50-feet high—were dismantled and cleaned with laser technology during a 40-year restoration, completed in 2014 to coincide with the 800th anniversary of St. Louis’s birth. Besides the dazzling glass, observe the detailed carvings on the columns and the statues of the apostles. The lower chapel is gloomy and plain, but take note of the low, vaulted ceiling decorated with fleurs-de-lis and cleverly arranged Ls for Louis.

Sunset is the optimal time to see the rose window; however, to avoid waiting in killer lines, plan your visit for a weekday morning, the earlier the better.

Come on a sunny day to appreciate the full effect of the light filtering through all of that glorious stained glass. You can buy a joint ticket with the Conciergerie: lines are shorter if you purchase it there or online, though you'll still have to go through a longish metal detector line to get into Sainte-Chapelle itself. Sights aside, the chapel makes a divine setting for classical concerts; check the schedule at www.infoconcert.com.

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Sight Information

Address:

4 bd. du Palais, Paris, 75001, France

Map It

Phone:

/01–53–40–60–97

Sight Details:

  • €8.50; joint ticket with Conciergerie €12.50
  • Mar. 1–Oct. 31, daily 9:30–6; Nov.–Feb., daily 9–5 (ticket window closes 30 min before closing)

Updated 02/19/2014

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Sep 1, 2014

The Holy Chapel

Located inside the World Heritage site. Sainte-Chapelle (The Holy Chapel) and the Conciergerie are precious testimonies of what the palace of the kings of France was like from the 10th to the 14th century. Sainte-Chapelle, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, was commissioned by Saint Louis (Louis IX) in order to preserve the relics of the Passion of Christ. The building was extensively restored in the mid-19th century.The lower chapel is dedicated

to the Virgin, and carved decoration of the porch and the inside décor are from the 19th century. On the side walls, the sculptural medallions represent the 12 apostles with idealized faces. The scene of the Annunciation at the bottom left is the oldest mural in Paris. The golden lilies on a blue background and the starry sky vault are perfectly executed. The lower chapel was the palace staff’s place of worship. The decoration of the upper chapel is simply sumptuous. Sculptures and glass combine to glorify Christ's Passion. Its 15 windows (most of which are original) diffuse light in shades of red and blue, almost heavenly. They show, in 1,113 scenes, the history of humanity, from Genesis to the resurrection of Jesus. This is the most extraordinary collection of stained glass from the 13th century. They read from left to right and top to bottom. Connected to the palace, access to the upper chapel was reserved for the king, his family and the college of canons.

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Nov 9, 2008

Splendid little chapel

Small chapel with haunting blue vaulted lower floor, stunningly amazing stained glass in upper floor. Lines can be long here, as it's contained within a police station complex and the screening can be slow going. Very much worth the visit.

By bonnie

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Jan 31, 2006

spectacular on a sunny day

There is a rahter hefty charge to visit this chapel but if you have the museum pass it is well worth checking out. Be sure to go on a sunny day for a spectacular display of stain glass windows.

By Lori

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Aug 25, 2004

Luminous Light

Amazing, not to be missed, but only on a sunny day! If the sun's not out, you might wonder what the fuss is all about. But enter the room through the narrow stairway (be sure to look at the chapel below so you get the full effect of the contrast), with the full light shining through the stained glass and the place is magical.

By Jeff

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Jun 8, 2003

The Most Beautiful Stained Glass Anywhere

That is the highlight of the church - the stained glass. It is amazing. The interior is also wonderful (along with the exterior part of the chapel). If you aren't rushed for time, definitely visit it. It is only minutes away from the Notre-Dame.

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Sep 12, 2002

Simply Beautiful

The sun coming through the stained glass windows is a must-see, don't go on a cloudy day!

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