The second largest church in Paris, Saint Sulpice is a grandiose monument that is, to my opinion, one of the main attractions in Paris. Yet, you can enjoy its impressive structure and decoration in peace away from the crowds and all the tourists who are themselves queuing at Notre-dame. Let me show you around...
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INFO & PLANNING TIPS - Saint Sulpice
Saint Sulpice is 113 metres long, 58 metres in width and 34 metres tall making it slightly smaller than Notre-Dame.
The present building was eructed in the 17th century on the fondations of a Romanesque church from the 13th century. Its current style is baroque with a mix of ideas coming from different architect. Construction stopped before the South tower was finsished. I think its size and interesting design makes it one of the top places to visit in Paris. I really don't understand why there are so few tourists.
Saint-Sulpice has been recently made famous by Brown's Da Vinci code and his now getting a little bit more visitors. However I was there on a Sunday afternoon beginning of August and there were almost no one!!!
TIPS FOR TRAVEL PLANNING ADDICTS - Saint Sulpice church
Getting to Saint-Sulpice
- South of the Seine river
- Metro line 4 stop Saint Sulpice, Metro line 10 stop Mabillon
- Short stroll from The Luxembourg garden
- 10 min walk from Notre Dame, 40 min walk from the Eiffel tower
- Entries from the front (with stairs), ramp on the right side
- Free entry
- During mass a section of the church is closed to visitors
- Free guided tours in French are available on Some sundays and Saturdays including the crypt and the facade. Some companies offer Da-Vinci tours of the church.
The Facade of Saint Sulpice
In front of the church is a quiet square place with a charming fountain. As you see in the pictures below: no crowds, no big line in fron of the building...
The facade has 3 levels. 2 with columns and arches and then the towers. As you can see the South towers was nver finished.
Close up on the facade of Saint Sulpice
When I looked closer I really found the facade fascinating and richly decorated. I was especially intrigued by the statues of the second level. I hope to be able to get there one day.
Inside the church of Saint-Sulpice
The inside is also impressive. And because there are few tourists you can really get close to the sculpture and paintings.
What attracted me the most was the roof. Famous attractions in the church are a frescoe by Eugene Delacroix and the church organ (sse next section).
The stained glass were also interesting with bright colors and realistic drawings.
Some of the best stained glass in Paris are in the Sainte Chapelle Church. Check them out!
If you look down there is also the meridian line where the gnomon casts a shadow the shadow. This is for the astronomy fans or Da Vinci code fans... Sorry I did not take a picture.
Saint-Sulpice's magnificent organ
Although I had overdosed on organs due to a music teacher during a school trip to Germany, I must admit that the Saint-Sulpice organ is maginificent. The instrument is considered the summit of Cavaillé-Coll's craftmanship. It dates back to 1781 and is one of the largest in the world. Concerts are frequently held in the church.
Other churches in Paris have impressive organs: Saint Germain l'Auxerrois and Saint Eustache for example.
The poem from Rue Férou
If you explore around, you will see that the side and back of the church are not as exciting. However if, when you get outside of the church your turn left into Rue Henry de Jouvenel and the straight into rue Férou, you will find a wall where the famous French peom 'Le Bateau Ivre' by Arthur Rimbaud is written (the Drunken boat). Apparently he proclaimed it at this spot when it was a restaurant in 1871. A nice French touch off the beaten path!
Saint Sulpice vs Notre-Dame
This weekend I really wanted to avoid the touristic crowds of Summer in Paris. I was wandering what was left for me. I dediced to make an attempt at the Luxembourg garden and Saint Sulpice. The gardens were full of locals but surprinsingly the church was almost empty. I get it, it is not Notre Dame, but still it seems to be really off the beaten path...
- Facades: both have 2 towers - Saint-Sulpice is Baroque and Notre Dame Gothic
- The famous stories: Saint-Sulpice has the Da Vinci code, Notre Dame has Quasimodo
- From the side and behind: Notre Dame wins. No discussion.
- The inside of Notre-Dame is more richly decorated but you have to fight to get close
- No line to get inside Saint-Sulpice, a long queue for Notre-Dame
I really love Saint-Sulpice but I think Notre-Dame still wins. However if you have some time when visiting Paris, I think saint-Sulpice should made it on your itinerary. It is one of the top monument in the city.
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Have you been surprised before to find nobody at a stunning location?
Really splendid church. Love the architecture and the surroundings. But the best part is that you have captured it brilliantly!
Claire Robinson says
D. Gremillion says
Maurice Charles Talleyrand was there for his Priestly education.
Jean White says
When in Paris, we waited for a local bus across the street from Saint Suplice and marvelled at its architecture from the outside, not having enough knowledge of what we were standing beside. We toured Notre Dame as dutiful tourists and were truly underwhelmed by the crowds and marketing venues that filled it. We viewed NotreDame de Bayeaux before coming into Paris and were blown away by its beauty and its sanctity. Notre Dame did not hold a candle to these two places of worship i our humble opinion.