Near the Place des Vosges, the Church of Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis is worth an extended stop to discover its story and architecture. Especially since the church has been entirely renovated in 2012 and found back its former glory.
If this church rings a bell, it’s surely because you read Victor Hugo Les Misérables and you remember that Cosette and Marius get married in this very church. It’s in this same church that, in 1843, Victor Hugo’s sadly famous daughter Leopoldine marries. In the occasion, Hugo donates two stoups to the church that you can still see today.
Built between 1627 and 1641, this church is Paris first Jesuit church built thanks to the financing of Louis XIII and the first church to abandon the traditional gothic style for a more baroque style. In 1762, Jesuits are chased by Louis XV and the church is given to the local clergymen.
The Church of Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis quickly becomes one of the major religious buildings in Paris. It’s Cardinal Richelieu who inaugurates the place and Madame de Sévigné, who has been baptized in this church, comes to listen the many sermons on the benches.
During the French Revolution, the Church of Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis becomes a book storehouse and its treasures are mainly plundered. Reliquaries containing the hearts of Louis XIII and Louis XIV are melted. In the 19th century, architect Victor Baltard is entrusted with the restoration of the building, in a Flemish baroque style. We owe him the beautiful façade (you can’t miss it!) and the impressive chiseled door. In 1887, the church is listed as historic monument.
Inside, the imposing Dome, that has been one of the firsts and one of the biggest ever built in Paris, bathes us in its light. Later on, it inspired the construction of other domes like the one of the Sorbonne, the Val-de-Grâce and the Invalides and those of Jesuit churches in a general way.
Also note that the presence of a painting by Eugène Delacroix, Christ in the Garden of Olives and the statue by Germain Pilon, Mater Dolorosa are absolutely to be seen.
A place taking us to the history of Paris.
Eglise Saint Paul-Saint Louis
99 Rue Saint-Antoine
75004 Paris 4
Ouverte tous les jours, 8h-20h