126-m long featuring a plan inspired by Notre-Dame, the Church of Saint-Roch is one of the biggest churches in Paris. Built according to La Sorbonne architect Jacques Le Mercier’s blueprints during the construction of the Tuileries in the 17th century, the Church of Saint-Roch saw its first stone being set in 1653 by Louis XIV himself! Because of financial issues, the construction will resume in 1701 under the management of Jules Hardouin-Mansart followed by Pierre Bullet before coming to an end in 1740.
Obviously, since the Church of Saint-Roch required several decades to be built, different architectural styles rub shoulders such as classic style and baroque style. Short before the French Revolution, works of art by the period’s major painters are added to the building.
But the Revolution explodes and with it, pillaging and destructions of religious monuments. Diderot’s tomb, buried in the Church of Saint-Roch, will be emptied and we’ll never find his body ever again.
For the record, it’s on the stairs of the Church of Saint-Roch that Bonaparte had royalist insurgents shot in 1795. Until the building was renovated in 2000, we could still see on the façade the impact of the bullets, symbols of the revolutionary fights.
Luckily, the indoor decoration of the Church of Saint-Roch resumes right after the French Revolution to hide the destructions. The church is adorned with new paintings and sculptures and even works of art from destroyed buildings are repatriated making it a real museum of religious art. All these works are still visible today for visitors’ greatest joy.
While the nave is rather classic and clean, the choir and its wonderful vault painted by Adolphe Roger is worth having us stop by. Don’t forget the Chapel of the Virgin either it’s as baroque as you could imagine and topped with a beautiful oval cupola adorned with “Triomphe de la Vierge” painted by Jean-Baptiste Pierre.
Finally, for music lovers, know that the Church of Saint-Roch organizes quite often concerts of classic and religious music.
Eglise Saint Roch
296 Rue Saint-Honoré
75001 Paris 1