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Must-Visit Cathedrals, Churches, and Basilicas in Paris – Today, we’re sharing with you 5 of the most beautiful and historical places you didn’t know you needed to visit in Paris! 

stained glass windows church in paris

While in Paris we tried our hardest to see everything that the city had to offer. Some of the oldest history of Paris lays with religion.

You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the architecture and beauty that these buildings have to offer. We made sure to visit, even if just the outside of these beautiful buildings.

One even became one of our staple workouts while in Paris! Can you guess which one?

What’s the difference between a church, a basilica, and a cathedral? 

Interestingly enough, a basilica and a cathedral actually exist as a form of church. Not every church is a cathedral, but every cathedral is considered a church. This same concept applies to basilicas as well. 

A church, simply put, is a place of gather and worship for those who follow Christianity as their religion. 

A cathedral is a type of church that represents the central location of the bishop or archbishop of the diocese. The latin word “cathedra” means “seat,” which represents the bishop’s chair, which is located in the cathedral. 

A basilica is the name given to a type of church that has been given special privileges by the Pope. A church becomes a basilica when it carries special architectural, historical, or spiritual significance. Once a church has become a basilica, it never loses this title.

Notre-Dame Cathedral 

front of notre dame building

Kicking off with the notoriously known Notre-Dame Cathedral; we’re all familiar with this one! The Notre-Dame Cathedral is a Catholic church known for its treasured art and history. 

Notre-Dame, which translates to Our Lady, draws about 13 million visitors every year! The year 1163 is traditionally known as the date of the laying of the first stone of Notre-Dame, and the Cathedral wasn’t completed until 1345.

Notre Dame after fire damage

Located in the “ile de la cite” of Paris, Notre-Dame is considered a jewel of medieval gothic architecture. The world shed tears in April this year when tragedy struck and a vicious fire set this beautiful and cherished place ablaze.

For this reason, the cathedral is temporarily closed pending its reconstruction, which is aimed to be completed within 5 years. We weren’t able to go inside but we saw it from the gates around it.It still looked beautiful even in it’s renovation state.

notre dame being rebuilt after fire damage

When Notre-Dame is open, entrance for visitors is free of charge, but donations are encouraged! Unfortunately since this attraction is free, lines to enter are usually crazy long, so if you visit (when it reopens), be prepared to wait for a couple of hours outside the cathedral! 

Visit the Notre-Dame website to learn more about this amazing cathedral!

Sacre-Coeur

up close view of sacre coeur

Sacre-Coeur, in English means ,“the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris,” is a Roman Catholic church and basilica in central-Northern Paris. It was decided by the French people that Sacre-Coeur was to be constructed in honor of the end of the Franco-Prussian war in 1870.

The first stone of the basilica was laid in 1875, and construction was completed in 1914. Although it was not consecrated until after World War I in 1919.

view of sacre coeur from the bottom of the step

Sacre Coeur was home to our favorite leg day workout. Faith and I would run up the stairs as fast as we could and then walk down. This was in addition to the 1.5 mile walk each way to get to this beautiful basilica.

Fun fact, one of the world’s largest mosaics can be found inside the Sacre-Coeur Basilica. The mosaic is a massive depiction of Jesus with outstretched arms. 

Another fun fact! Sacre-Coeur is one of the absolute best places in Paris to get a bird’s eye view of the gorgeous city. 

view of Paris from Sacre Coeur

Sacre-Coeur visitor hours

  • Sacre-Coeur is open 6 am – 10:30 pm seven days a week!

Entrance to this beautiful basilica is free and there is no need to make reservations for groups. Large crowds as well as hundreds of steps leading up to the basilica may seem intimidating, but power through if you truly want to experience the full glory Sacre-Coeur has to offer!

Visit the Sacre-Coeur website to learn more about this amazing basilica!

Sainte-Chapelle

Sainte-Chapelle church outside

Known for its extraordinary stained glass windows, the Sainte-Chapelle (Holy Chapel) was commissioned between 1242 and 1248 by King Louis IX. The chapel was consecrated in 1248, and was designed to be a sacred shrine of the relics of the Passion of Christ. 

Fun fact! The Sainte-Chapelle was originally the home to 22 relics, but now only 3 remain. The 3 relics that are left include a piece of the cross, a nail, and the crown of thorns (woah). These relics are now part of the Notre-Dame de Paris treasure!

Sainte-Chapelle visitor hours

  • From January 2nd – March 31st, the chapel is open from 9 am – 5 pm
  • From April 1st – September 30th, the chapel is open from 9 am – 7 pm
  • From October 1st – December 31st, the chapel is open from 9 am – 5 pm 
  • The Sainte-Chapelle is closed annually on New Year’s Day, Christmas Day, and May 1st.

At the Sainte-Chapelle, adults pay an admission fee, but children under 18 can enter free! Individuals with disabilities and their escorts also enter the chapel for free. You can also reserve tours (for an extra fee!) for individuals and groups before your trip!

Visit the Sainte-Chapelle website to learn more about this amazing church!

Saint-Germain-Des-Pres Church 

Saint Geermain Des Pres church in Paris tower

The Saint-Germain-Des-Pres church is one of the oldest churches in Paris! The church was built in 558 in the 6th arrondissement of Paris. Since the church (at the time) was outside the city lines and protection of Paris, it was frequently attacked and in fact destroyed by Vikings in the 9th century!

When the church was finally rebuilt in 1014, Pope Alexander III dedicated it to Saint Germain, the Bishop of Paris. Now resurrected, the new Saint-Germain-Des-Pres church was actually rebuilt in a different location than the original- now in the middle of Paris!

Saint Geermain Des Pres church in Paris

Visitors can enter the church free of charge and tours are available as well!

The Saint-Germain-Des-Pres Church is open as follows

  • 9 am – 8 pm on Mondays
  • 8:30 am – 8 pm Tuesdays – Sundays.

Learn more about the Saint-Germain-Des-Pres Church

Sainte-Clotilde Basilica

sainte clotilde basilica twin tower front view

The history of the Sainte-Clotilde Basilica began in 1827, when the Paris municipal council decided to build a new church and dedicate it to St. Charles. After several architects and decades later, Sainte-Clotilde was finally built and consecrated in 1857. The church became a basilica in 1896 under Pope Leo III. 

Sainte-clotilde basilica stained glass

Fun fact! The famously enormous twin spires on the Sainte-Clotilde can be seen from many different spots throughout Paris!

The Sainte-Clotilde Basilica is open as follows

  • Monday – Friday 9 am – 7:30 pm
  • Saturday – Sunday 10 am – 8 pm

Learn more about Sainte-Clotilde Basilica

sainte clotilde basilica front view

If you loved this post about Cathedrals, Churches, and Basilicas in Paris, check out our other Europe travel posts below. 

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