Saint Jacques Tower


The Tower and the square


Location : The Saint Jacques tower is located in the heart of Paris in the 4th arrondissement of Paris.  Map Tour Saint Jacques

Style : Flamboyant Gothic style. It had 12 bells. It’s 52 meters (171 ft).








A view all over Paris :

A wonderful view all over Paris from the top of the Tower


On the left : he Paris Town Hall and Saint Louis Island – On the right : Notre Dame


The former church

A little History :

  • It’s the only remain of the former church of Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie. It was the the church of   the neighborhood merchants and the location for pilgrims too. It’s located on the road which led to the destination of Santiago de Compostela.
  • The Saint Jacques tower was built in the early 16th century. It was once the bell tower of the church of Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie.
  • The church grew thanks to donations from guilds and private individuals.  It was called  “Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie”, because of the contribution of the guild of the butchers to its transformations. Nicolas Flamel, as an individual, contributed to the expansion of the church too. He was a writer, scholar and generous man. He was thought to be an alchemist.
  • The church was destroyed in 1793,  during the French Revolution, but the bell tower was preserved.  
  • After the Revolution, the church became national property
  • The city of Paris bought the tower in 1836.
  • Then during Napoleon III era, the tower was restorated   : replacement of the damaged sculptures and ornamentations. 
  • A public square was also made around the tower. It was the first one created by the  Haussmann administration in Paris. Paris wanted to have green spaces as in London
  • The tower is classified as a Historical Monument since 1862 (a national Historic landmark)
  • After remaining abandonned  for years, it became a location for scientific study. 
  • In 1996, The public garden was restored
  • In 2006, the major restoration of the tower started. 
  • In 2013, the tower was opened to the public

Blaise Pascal

Scientific studies :

  • During the 17th century, Blaise Pascal made use of the  Church tower for his experiments on atmospheric pressure. A statue of Blaise Pascal is located at the base of the tower, commemorating the experiments on atmospheric pressure. 
  • In 1891, a weather station was installed in the tower 





Practical informations :

Address : 39 rue de Rivoli – Paris 4

Metro Stop : Hotel de Ville (line 1, 11) – Chatelet (line 1,4,7,11,14). Better to get off at Hotel de Ville (because easier to find the right exit).

Reservations on  line (Des Mots et Des Arts or contact@desmotsetdesarts.comfor the panoramic view from the top of the tower : Reservation  every Monday morning for a visit on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from May until the end of September.

The guided visits are only in French. You can’t go up to the top of the tower on your own. It must be a guided visit. Must be over ten years old.  – 300 steps to get to the top – 2 stopping points –  45 minutes tour.

You can try to buy a ticket at the tower too, but risky (there may not have any ticket left)



The Eiffel Tower and the river Seine

Your Private Walk with Ann Jeanne in Paris, a native Parisian :

You’d like to feel like a local and having a tour in a Paris neighborhood, but you don’t feel having a tour with a group ?

  • You’d like to discover Paris off the beaten path ?
  • You’d like to see Paris in another perspective and to know more about Paris lifestyle ?


 CONTACT me for a private walking tour and EXPERIENCE PARIS as a local

  • You only, or you and the person you choose.
  • Duration of the tour : from 2 hours.  It includes a coffee in an authentic cafe 
  • The tour can be customized according to your preferences and interests 

For more details :  The tours  and Practical details and fees 

Don’t hesitate to contact me

(A visit to the Saint Jacques Tower can be organized and reserved for you and included in a Private Walking Tour)





Les Halles de Paris : the legendary Parisian Food Market


First period  : “the Belly of Paris”*

  • Les Halles (The Halls) was the wholesale fresh food market of Paris, until 1969. It was known  as the “Belly of Paris”.  This food market dated back as far as the 12th century. 
  • These famous glass and iron buildings were designed  by architect Victor Baltard (1805-1874) in the 1850s  . 



Second period : the “hole of Les Halles”

  • XVM44bd60e8-fc1c-11e5-bc11-21e2b3a5b807-805x453

    “Le trou des Halles” (= “The hole of les Halls”) as it was called.

    End of “Les Halles le 27 février 1969. It was demolished in 1971 and left a hole for several years. 

  • The cast iron structures of the old Halls were demolished and an enormous hole was dug to construct what would become the central hub of the Future RER (Paris ‘s new urban railway hub) transportation system/ .
  • A decision was made to relocate the wholesale market to the suburb of Rungis , in the outskits of Paris. Rungis is now the largest wholesale food market in the world.
  • Two of the glass and cast iron market pavilions designed by Victor Baltard were dismantled and re-erected elsewhere; one in the Paris suburb of Nogent-sur-Marne, the other in Yokohama (Japan).


Third period : “Le Forum des Halles”

quartier-des-hallesLe Forum des Halles was a multiple story commercial and shopping centre, opened in 1979. It was the most frequented shopping mail in the Paris area and the second most visited shopping mall in France.  There was a public garden too,  covering 4 hectares opened in 1986 and many of the surrounding streets were pedestrianized.

The Forum des Halles was largely underground and directly connected to the RER and metro of Chatelet Les Halles. ——————————————————————-



The canopy by architect Patrick Berger

Fourth period : The canopy


The demolition of the previous building began around 2000. A canopy, a steel structure with a leaf-like roof has been built.

Here is a 1.3 minute video I shot today (the 5th of May – 2016) to let you discover the new Halles, the “Canopy of les Halles” :


It’s an “umbrella” made of 7000 tonnes of steel and 18000 pieces of glass. It covers a new shopping center. It alignes Les Halles with both the Pompidou Centre and the Palais-Royal. The new center opened last month (in April 2016). The new Forum des Halles is expected to welcome 37 million visitors each year

More photos (slideshow) :



Up to 1969 : the famous glass and iron buildings by architect Victor Baltard (1805-1874) 

belly-of-paris ZOLA*«Le ventre de Paris” (1873) (“The Belly of Paris”) is the third novel in Emile Zola’s twenty-volume series “Les Rougon-Macquart”. It is set in and around “Les Halles”, It is Zola ‘s first novel entirely on the working class.












PRIVATE WALKING TOURS with a native Parisian :

  • to see Paris in another perspective,
  • to know more about Paris lifestyle,
  • to discover Paris off the beaten path;

Don’t hesitate to CONTACT me

  • for a friendly walking tour 
  • You only, or you and the person you choose.