Visiting Paris and not sure what to visit after a few days going around the city? Don’t give it another thought… Head to l’Ile de la Cité and visit the Sainte Chapelle.
I discovered it only recently myself. It’s a known fact that when you live in a city, you often go by its best spots without realizing it. Ever since Mister Chéri moved to Paris, I have a new appreciation for this city which is beautiful and has so much to offer.
April 26, 1248 … The Sainte-Chapelle (Holy Chapel) was inaugurated
770 years ago today, the Sainte Chapelle inaugurated. This breathtaking church was intended to host 22 precious Christian relics, including Christ’s crown of thorns, acquired by Saint Louis. This latter was the king of France at the time and about to leave for a crusade to defend the Holy land.
I had heard of the Sainte Chapelle and seen many pictures. Yet, nothing really prepares you for the visual and emotional shock. It’s simply extraordinary.
The lower chapel
The visit starts as you enter the lower chapel, which is the more modest portion of the church. Still, you can admire mural paintings, a statue of King Saint Louis, as well as painted ceilings.
The upper chapel: a masterpiece!
Then, proceed to the staircase and enter the upper chapel which will make your jaws drop. Arranged across 15 windows, each 15 meters high, the stained glass panels depict 1113 scenes from the Old and New Testaments recounting the history of the world until the arrival of the relics in Paris. The walls are practically inexistant and it’s simply vertiginous.
Tickets: 10€, 15€ if you combine it with the visit of the Conciergerie, next door.
What to see around the Sainte Chapelle?
Great news: the Sainte Chapelle is on the Ile de la Cité, just steps away from Notre Dame de Paris, the Cathedral of Paris. You are also at the heart of the police/justice district with the Palais de Justice, the Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation) and the Police Headquarters (quai des orfèvres). And since you are in this neighborhood, why not visit La Conciergerie where Queen Marie-Antoinette was imprisoned during the French revolution?
Have lunch outside, Place Dauphine and then, take a few steps to admire the Seine river from the Square du Vert Galant
Palais de Justice
To end this beautiful afternoon on the Ile de la Cité, lose yourself in the tiny streets on the Eastern side of the island. Stop for a gelato, an ice-cream from the Amorino, rue d’Arcole, and indulge yourself in its rose-shaped cones.
Lastly, cross over to Ile Saint Louis. It’s another fantastic spot for ice-creams (Berthillon, Amorino etc…). But my favorite shop is Il Campiello, which sells Venetian masks. Great address if, like me, you feel like going to Venice, Italy for carnival. All about my weekend in Venice during the Carnevale here.