The Sainte Chapelle :
a hidden and magical gem of Gothic style (13th century)
It is renowned for its stunning stain-glass windows. It was designated world heritage site by UNESCO.
Surely among the top best sites to visit when you are coming to Paris.
VIDEO and my ADVICE below (video by Ann Jeanne in Paris) – at the BOTTOM of this PAGE
The Sainte Chapelle is located on la Cité Island (Ile de la Cité) between the 2 banks of the Seine.
It’s a short walk from Notre Dame (400 meters) and 200 meters from Saint Michel Metro stop, inside the courtyard of the Palais de Justice. The entrance is on the left side of the Palais de Justice’s entrance
It was Royal chapel commissioned by King Saint Louis (Louis IX) in order to receive the relics of Christ’s Passion, including the Crown of Thorns. The King wanted to make Paris the second Christian capital in the world
It took 6 years to build, between 1242 and 1248. It was consecrated in 1248, just 3 years after the towers of Notre Dame were completed. It’s one of the finest examples of high gothic architecture.
The Sainte Chapelle was damaged during the French Revolution in the Late 18th century. It was restored later in the 19th century but most of the original 13th century stain-glass windows are the original ones.
Since the revolution, the chapel no longer holds any of the relics of the Christ’s passion. They were moved to Notre Dame Cathedral’s treasury where they are still now.
The Holy relics of the Passion of the Christ and the Crown of Thorns:
They were offered to Louis IX, king of France by the Latin Emperor of Constantinople in 1238. The Saint Chapelle was built in order to receive it. The relics stayed during 500 years in the Sainte Chapelle until the French Revolution. Then it was deposited in Notre Dame de Paris. The relic can be seen on the first Friday of every month at 3pm. It includes a piece of the Cross along with the Holy Crown of Thorns
The Chapel has 2 levels : A lower and a upper chapel :I
t’s a quite small church divided into a lower and a upper chapel. Though both are beautiful, the most beautiful is the upper chapel.
The lower chapel is devoted to the Virgin Mary. This floor was the place of worship of the Palace personnel. A quite dark chapel. A blue ceiling decorated with golden fleur-de-lis (the royal symbol). It was the place for the palace staff and the king’s household.
The upper chapel : Only the king and his entourage had access to this floor
- You get to the upper Chapel through a spiral staircase from the lower chapel.
- The stained glass windows are 15 meters high from the floor to the ceiling. Their red and blue colors are just amazing. Even more on a sunny day.
- Two third of them are the original ones, dating from the 13th century.
- They are made of 1113 biblical scenes that tell the history of mankind from Genesis to the resurrection of Christ.
- A large rose window was added to the chapel in the late 15th centruy
- The blue ceiling decorated with golden stars
- In the choir, the empty shrine once contained the relics of the Passion of Christ.
Video of the Sainte Chapelle
Practical details :
- Address : 8 boulevard du Palais – Paris 1 Metro Stop : La Cité (line 4) then 100 meters walk or Metro stop Saint Michel, then 200 meters walk
- Opening days :
- Opened everyday (except 1st od january, 1st of may and 25th of December)
- From march 1st to October 31st : 0.30am to 6.00 pm
- From November 1st to February 28th : 9 am to 5 pm
- Last tickets sold 30 minutes before the chapel closes
WARNING : The chapel is closed between 1 and 2 pm during the week
- Guided tours of the chapel or Audio-guide tour are available – http://www.sainte-chapelle.fr/en visit the official site
- Inside the Chapelle, at the lower level : a small souvenir shop with souvenirs, postcards, books..and so on
- Concerts at the Sainte Chapelle (from mid-march to October/November): You can attend a concert at the Sainte Chapelle. You listen to beautiful music surrounded by beautiful stained glass. Tickets around 29 euros can be purchased through : https://www.classictic.com/en/special/concerts-in-la-sainte-chapelle/216/?range=25&sorting=date_asc
My advice :
- Don’t miss going upstairs to the upper level, as this is the most beautiful part of this chapel : when you enter the lower chapel the staircases are immediately on the left and right sides. Narrow and winding stairs to climb. It may be difficult for some persons though this staircases are quite short.
- Sainte Chapelle can be a little hard to find.
- The entrance to Sainte Chapelle is to the left of the Palais de Justice and its gilded iron gates. It is just next to the Justice Palace. It is a bit hidden from view inside the courtyard of the Palais de Justice. but you’ll find signs to guide you. But you may not see the sighs…
- I would recommend visiting at the opening:
- in the morning or in the afternoon to avoid the crowd as much as possible, especially at Summertime.
- And if possible on a sunny day. But if it’s not sunny, it is still beautiful and worth it (the day I took the photos and videos was not a sunny day !)
- Better buy your tickets on line : you’ll probably still have to wait in line, but for a shorter time and you will still have to go through the security check as for every visitor, But with your tickets booked in advance you may save time.
- You can visit it under 1 hour.
- Make sure to wear a coat or a jumper inside as it’s often a bit cold inside
You can combine your visit with….
- with a Ann Jeanne in Paris Private tour in the Latin Quarter or in Saint Germain des Prés neighborhoods. I can pick you up at the end of your visit at the Sainte Chapelle, then we’ll stroll through the streets of one of these neighborhood where i’ll be delighted to share my favorite places with you. More details about AJIP private tours CONTACT
- with a visit of Notre Dame (400 meters walk from the Sainte Chapelle) Choose a visit at the opening time to avoid waiting to much.
- with a visit of the Flower Market, located on La Cité Island too, a stone throw from the Saint Chapelle
- with a break at the beautiful café “Les 2 Palais” (see the photo below) located in front of the Palais de Justice. You won’t be surprised to see lawyers dressed in their suits of lawyers. It’s the closest and nicest café to the Palais de Justice.
- with a visit of the Conciergerie. The Conciergerie is nearby the Saint Chapelle. It’s where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned and 2700 other victims too before being sent to the guillotine during the French Revolution. A combine ticket is available for both monuments.
AJIP Private walking tours and photo sessions
Share my Paris, the Paris I love. I welcome you, I accompany you and we walk at your pace. Let me be your friend in Paris ! Half a day or a whole day with a native including a break in a very Parisian cafe. It’s a cross cultural experience in Paris and a way to see Paris in a Parisian perspective.
Ann Jeanne in Paris’ private tours are designed for one or two persons. A friendly and personal experience of Paris. I was born and raised in Paris. Paris is the city where I live.