The Saint-Eustache Church in Paris is a magnificent Gothic church built in the 16th century. Though it suffered damage during the French Revolution, it has been beautifully restored and is now one of Paris’s most popular tourist attractions.
One of the most frequented churches in Paris, Église Saint-Eustache has an unusually big size that is more like a cathedral than a church. It is situated in the center of Les Halles and is well-known for the numerous works of art it contains.
The church was first constructed in 1532 and then reconstructed in 1840. It features a Gothic façade but an interior decorated in the Renaissance and classical styles. The Saint-Eustache organ is the largest in France. Every Sunday at 4 pm, the resident organist performs a free concert for the public.
The church continues its longstanding legacy of classical music. It regularly hosts performances by symphony orchestras and choral groupings like the Choeurs de Radio France and the Orchestre National de France.
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What is Saint-Eustache?
Saint-Eustache is a church in Paris located near Les Halles market. The present church was built between 1532 and 1637. Saint-Eustache, de Paris, is one of the most prominent examples of French Gothic architecture.
History of Eglise Saint Eustache
St. Eustache, a historic church located in the heart of Paris, is a must-see for any traveler to the city. Modeled on Notre Dame, with its soaring Gothic architecture and iconic flying buttresses, St. Eustache also embodies many Renaissance design elements. The Saint-Eustache Church is definitely worth a visit if you’re interested in exploring one of the most iconic and well-known churches in Paris.
Beginnings of Saint Eustache Paris
Saint Eustache was started in the 1300s and is in Les Halles, which used to be France’s biggest food market. Saint Agnes was a Roman martyr, and in 1213, a small church was built in her honor. A trader in Les Halles named Jean Alais paid for the construction of the small chapel by taxing the sale of fish baskets in exchange for a loan he gave to King Philippe-Auguste. In 1223, the church was opened as the parish church for the Les Halles neighborhood. In 1303, the name was changed to Saint-Eustache.
Saint Eustace was a very important Roman official in the second century. The church is named after him. He was a dedicated hunter who became a Christian after seeing a cross in a deer’s antlers. He and his family were later killed because of their faith. Hunters still think of him as a saint. Because the Abbey of Saint Denis gave relics of the Roman martyr Saint Eustache, the church was renamed after him.
The churchwardens saw that the number of people needed to grow, so they built a bigger building. From 1532 to 1632, when Francois I was king, the church we see today was built. In 1637, the Archbishop of Paris, Jean-François de Gondi, gave it its name.
In 1640, the building was finished. The difficult location, a lack of money, and the French Wars of Religion made it hard to build. When two chapels were added to the church in 1655, they damaged its structure greatly. This is why the facade had to be taken down and then rebuilt in 1754 by architect Jean Mansart de Jouy.
Many famous Parisians have ties to the Church of St. Eustache. In 1649, Louis XIV went there for the first time to receive Holy Communion. Molière and Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson (Madame de Pompadour), who was Cardinal Richelieu’s daughter, got married there in 1662. There was the funeral for Mozart’s mother. Queen Anne of Austria, also known as Turenne, was laid to rest in St. Eustache. Marie de Gournay, an early feminist who fought for women’s rights, died and was buried there in 1645.
During the French Revolution, the church was broken into and stolen from, just like many other places in Paris. After Catholic services stopped happening there in 1793, the building became a warehouse called the “Temple of Agriculture.” After the funeral of revolutionary leader Mirabeau on April 4, 1791, a lot of damage was done to the building and its furniture, and it didn’t reopen until 1795. It wasn’t given back to the church until 1803.
In 1844, a fire did a lot more damage to the tower. This is what made Victor Baltard fix it. Baltard was in charge of restoring the whole building from 1846 to 1854. This included putting up the organ case, pulpit, and high altar, as well as fixing the paintings in the church. During the Semaine sanglante, the last battle of the Paris Commune in May 1871, the damage was done to the church’s attic, buttresses, and south face. Between 1928 and 1929, changes were made to the outside.
The area around the Church of St. Eustache changed greatly when the Halles de Paris market moved to Rungis in 1969. The Church of St. Eustache is a well-known landmark and an active parish where Les Halles, a shopping center and transportation hub, is located.
See Related: Les Halles et quartier Beaubourg
Exploring the church
The Église Saint-Eustache is one of the most iconic and well-known churches in Paris. The church is located in the 1st arrondissement and is a major tourist attraction. Saint Eustache Paris is known for its beautiful stained glass windows, pipe organ, and Gothic architecture.
The church was built in the 13th century and has undergone many changes over the years. The current structure of the church combines elements from the Gothic, Renaissance, and Classical styles of architecture.
Église Saint-Eustache has many beautiful features, including columns and pillars, a nave, and a transept. The pipe organ in Saint-Eustache is one of the largest and most famous organs in France.
Exterior of Église Saint-Eustache Paris
Flamboyant Gothic, classical, and Renaissance styles are all represented in the church’s exterior design. The interior rib vaults exert a downward and outward force on the intricate flying buttresses that make up the Gothic exterior.
The building’s gothic centerpiece is the east apse, where the buttresses enclose a semicircular set of chapels behind the altar. The main façade, which is incomplete and distinct from the rest of the exterior, is dominated by classical motifs.
The upper level features Ionic columns, while the lower level features Doric columns in paired sets. The sculpture of flowers, leaves, and seashells adorning the south portals is largely Renaissance. A sculpture of a deer with a crucifix in its antlers adorns the top of the pointed arch, representing Saint Eustache’s vision.
Église Saint-Eustache – Interior
The interior of Saint-Eustache Church is just as impressive as the exterior. The walls are covered in beautiful stained glass windows, which let in natural light and create a colorful atmosphere. There are also several sculptures and paintings on the walls of this church.
Although only 105 meters in length, the church’s interior soars 33.45 meters to the vaulting. The interior’s verticality, provided by the pillars and arches, helps to create a sense of harmony. The vaulted ceilings are the primary source of Flamboyant Gothic design. They are embellished with a ribbed network and keystone hanging down from the ceiling.
The interior has many Renaissance features. These include columns and pilasters in the classical orders, circular arcades, and walls covered in ornate sculptures of seraphim and bouquets. The columns and pillars that hold the vaults are also decorated in a progression from Doric at the base to Ionic in the middle and Corinthian at the top. Two collateral aisles branch out from the main nave and lead to a cluster of individual chapels, all lavishly adorned with artwork.
The Banc-oeuvre, a group of seats with a Greek portico and very detailed carvings, is one of the most famous classical parts of the nave. It was where the lay committee members sat, who was in charge of the church’s finances. Sculptor Pierre Lepautre made it in 1720, and a statue of “The Triumph of Saint Agnes” sits on top.
Special Decorations Inside Eglise Saint Eustache Paris
“The Disciples of Emmaus” by Rubens is the most well-known piece of art in St. Eustache. The St. Madeleine chapel has a painting by Manetti called “Ecstasy of the Madeleine.”
Before Charles-Joseph Natoire and Francois Boucher’s Rococo paintings from the middle of the 18th century, there was Francois Lemoyne’s “Saint John the Baptist” from 1726. It shows the Saint in a casual, even sensual pose with a lamb in a garden.
Tobias with the Angel (1575) by the Florentine artist Santi di Tito has features of the late Mannerism or Proto-Baroque style, such as long, naive figures and a light color palette.
The bas-relief medallions in the nave that show Saint Cecelia’s death on the cross are just one example of how the art is carefully woven into the building. Some of the information is newer. South of the church is a sculpture by the artist Henri de Miller called “L’écoute.” One of the sculptures in the church’s nave shows farmers from the 1800s bringing their goods to Les Halles to sell.
Most of the current windows were made by Antoine Soulignac, a famous glass worker from Paris, who made the first ones in the 1600s. The choral section of the church is where most of his windows are. They are a stained-glass window in the choir of Sts. Jerome and Ambrosius in an architectural setting (1631). At the time, the goal of clair-etage stained glass was to let in as much natural light as possible, so most windows were made of white glass.
Most of the stained glass is from the 19th and 20th centuries. It has silver-stained glass, which helps oil paintings look more real. The rose window in the north transept was put in during the 1800s.
A lot of the craftspeople at the nearby Les Halles market gave their time and skills to the chapel. In 1945, the Society of French Charcuterie, which is a group of French pig butchers, gave money to build a chapel with some interesting windows.
The Great Organ
With about 8,000 pipes spread out over 101 stops and 147 ranks, the great organ is one of the biggest in France. It competes for supremacy with the big organs at Notre Dame de Paris (115 stops and 156 ranks) and Saint Sulpice (10 meters wide by 18 meters high). Hector Berlioz’s huge Te Deum was played for the first time in 1855 at St. Eustache, where P.-A. Ducroquet had built the organ. Later, Joseph Bonnet was in charge of making changes to the project.
The Dutch company van Den Heuvel did almost all of the work to fix up the organ at St. Eustache in 1989. It was first made by Jean-Louis Coignet, and Titular Organist Jean Guillou was in charge of it. Every summer, organ performances of Berlioz’s Te Deum and Liszt’s Christus honor the fact that they were first played in 1886.
The organ concerts
Saint-Eustache is also well known for the rich musical legacy left behind by countless legendary musicians. This church passionately maintains both its musical past and present. Today, thousands of parishioners from all over the world flock to Eglise Saint Eustache.
Singing and playing the organ are integral parts of the liturgy. They bring life to the services throughout the liturgical year. The musical actors of the parish perform polyphonic music. After World War II, Reverend Father Martin founded the Chanteurs de Saint-Eustache. He aimed to continue the tradition of polyphonic religious singing that he had begun in the Renaissance and carry it forward to the present day.
On Sunday evenings, organists and special guests perform an audition on one of the most stunning organs in France.
Essential music events at Saint-Eustache include the Sainte-Cécile Mass, the Mass of the pork butchers, and the Festival of the 36 Hours of Saint-Eustache.
The parish graciously welcomes many events and performances. Saint Eustache Paris is known for its pastoral care and welcoming atmosphere. Symphony orchestras, choirs, and other ensembles reaffirm a musical heritage.
The Saint-Eustache Church is located in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, near Les Halles market. The church is easily accessible by public transportation and is a short walk from several Metro stations.
Best Lodging Options Near Eglise Saint-Eustache
There are many great lodging options near Eglise Saint-Eustache. This church is located in the heart of Paris, making it a convenient place to stay for those who want to explore the city. There are plenty of hotels and Airbnbs in the area, as well as some more affordable hostels.
Some of the best lodging options near Eglise Saint-Eustache include:
- Hotel du Louvre – This 4-star hotel is located in the 1st arrondissement, just a few minutes walk from the church. The hotel features elegant rooms and suites, a fitness center, and a Michelin-starred restaurant.
- Hôtel Grand Amour – This 3-star hotel is located in the 9th arrondissement, about a 10-minute walk from the church. The hotel features colorful and stylish rooms, a 24-hour reception, and a great location near many of Paris’s best attractions.
- Hotel Le Marais – This 3-star hotel is located in the 4th arrondissement, just a few minutes walk from the church. The hotel features modern rooms and suites, a 24-hour reception, and a great location near many of Paris’s best attractions.
There is no shortage of breathtaking European cathedrals to visit while on vacation in Europe, but the Church of Saint Eustache in Paris still stands out as one of the most unique buildings to witness. Whether you are an architecture enthusiast, a history buff interested in religious structures, or simply want a temporary escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, have a look at this timeless masterpiece