You can’t visit the Boulevard Saint-Germain and the Latin Quarter without finding yourself near the Church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. But have you been inside? If not, thinks about this beautiful Parisian abbey of Roman style during your next visit in Paris!
Before we get started, you need to know one thing. The Church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés is part of an abbey simply called the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Its construction, devoted to Germain Bishop of Paris, dates back to the Merovingian era (in 558) like most of the Parisian churches. The Church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés is then the oldest church in Paris!
Until king Dagobert and the building of the Saint-Denis Basilica, the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés is the necropolis of the Merovingian kings and their wives. Destroyed by the Normans at the end of the 9th century, the abbey is rebuilt in the next century and the other building, in the 13th century. It then becomes a place of meditation for copyist monks entrusted with copying books by hand.
During the French Revolution and as many religious buildings in Paris, the abbey closes its doors to the faithful and becomes a saltpeter refinery before finding its original functions back in 1803. The precious manuscripts it held are scattered and the tombs of the Merovingian kings destroyed. In 1794, tons of powder stocked in the church explode and finish destroying the beautiful building.
But it’s without counting on architects Etienne-Hippolyte Godde and Victor Baltard who, in the middle of the 19th century, are entrusted with the restoration of the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Baltard having already renovated the Church of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont and the Church of Saint-Eustache.
The two fellows called in painter Hippolyte Flandrin and give him the totality of the indoor decors. The latter, helped by other artists of the time era, is inspired by Byzantine art, Roman art and primitive Italian painters to dress the walls of the Church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Paintings we can still admire today!
Despite the alterations of primitive gothic style conducted by the architects, the Church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés kept its charming Roman style; one of the last remains of this architecture in Paris!
Place Saint-Germain des Prés
75006 Paris 6