Paris’s Stunning Churches In “spire.” And, What’s Left of Notre-Dame de Paris

Well, I started this post on March 25th. How time changes things.

Monday (April 15), two of my favorite people sent me text links to breaking news: Paris was burning; actually, Notre-Dame was burning.

First thought was arson. That seems reasonable, given the Paris protests and the fact that arsonists have set church fires in various locations around the country, including Saint-Sulpice on Paris’s left bank.

The St-Sulpice fire did little damage and, though out Air B&B was only a block away, we didn’t even realize it had happened.

Yet, the news outlets immediately dismissed arson and blamed renovation crews. I’m still a bit skeptical about that.

The following is my commentary before the fire, with some post-fire edits.

Notre-Dame’s spire and roof line, shown here, burned in the fire on April 15, 2019. When I took this photo on March 14, I was focusing on the pretty garden. Time has changed my focus.

Paris and its outskirts offer some of the most spectacular churches in the world. Of course, there’s Notre-Dame, but slightly less famous churches around Paris are beautiful, too, and provide examples of classic architectural features.

Notre-Dame de Paris

Notre-Dame de Paris is the Queen of the city. This iconic structure exemplifies the architectural advances made during the major period of its construction, from 1160 to 1260.

The iconic rectangular towers remain after the fire, though smoke was seen coming out of one.

Notre-Dame’s flying buttresses (those side supports that remind you of a whale’s ribcage) demonstrate the structural mechanism invented to hold up cathedral walls.

Flying buttresses photo by Jean Lemoine from Béthisy-Saint-Martin, France ( )

Ken Follett’s historical novel, Pillars of the Earth, explores the time, effort, expense, and creativity that went into the design of these Gothic cathedrals.

Follett’s book is well worth your time, especially if you are planning a trip to Europe and have cathedral visits on your agenda.

Notre-Dame’s construction spanned over two hundred years. That means no original builder ever lived to see its completion.

Some of the stained glass windows inside the church are stunning in their detail, including the “rose windows.”

The Rose windows are the large, round stained glass windows that we all know from paintings and photographs of the cathedral.

One of Notre-Dame’s rose windows.
A window depicting the life of Saint Genevieve.

How much remains inside the cathedral following the fire? We don’t know yet. The only glimpse so far is camera video attributed to one of the firefighters.

Base of a baptismal fountain on display inside the cathedral.

Is Notre-Dame truly inspiring? Just think back to all the references to this structure from your childhood. (If you haven’t read these books, give them a try. You don’t have to be a kid to appreciate good children’s literature.)

The Family Under the Bridge


While you are on the Ile de la Cite, be sure to visit Sainte-Chapelle. Head west to 6 Boulevard du Palais. After going through security, you will end up inside the walled grounds and follow the sidewalk to Sainte-Chapelle.

Constructed from about 1238 to 1248, the chapel is considered a prime example of Gothic style.

The colors and light inside Sainte-Chapelle are awesome.
Intricate patterns and intense colors characterize Sainte-Chapelle’s stained glass windows.

Sainte-Chapelle was built by Louis IX exclusively for the King’s use, and to hold royal relics. Its 50 foot-tall stained glass windows make this chapel one of the most beautiful in Paris.

Artistry is on display everywhere inside the chapel, even on the floor tiles.

Luckily, the expertise of firefighters saved many historic structures like Sainte-Chapelle on April 15th.


On the left bank, in the neighborhood of St-Germain-des-Pres, you’ll find the impressive Saint-Sulpice church.

Saint-Sulpice has two towers, like Notre-Dame. However, its towers are not “twins.”

This church is second only to Notre-Dame in size. The plaza leading to the front doors of the church features the Fountain of the Four Bishops.

The Fountain of the Four Bishops
Many visitors admire this church, even on weekdays. It’s much less crowded than Notre-Dame, and displays similar architectural features.
Saint-Sulpice interior.
The alter.
One of two giant shells inside the church, that hold holy water.

I hope that you’ve found some inspiration in our Paris church tour. Stay tuned for more from this beautiful city!

Author: A. JoAnn

Here is where I share the beauty I find in everyday life; and the humor, too!

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