Paris 2006 - Sainte Chapelle

Prev (Notre Dame)       Table of Contents       Next (Jardin du Luxembourg)

After visiting Notre Dame, I walked west through Île de la Cité to visit the Gothic chapel of Sainte Chapelle at the other end of the island, stopping at a café along the way for a lemonade ("une petite limonade, s'il vous plaît") and to rest my legs after climbing all those stairs. Many people think that Sainte Chapelle is the most beautiful church in France ...

... and here's why. It has the largest and most beautiful stained glass windows in the country. It is absolutely breathtaking. The windows in the upper chapel shown here fill the room with the most gorgeous colored light. It almost feels as if you are floating above the earth, somewhere perhaps nearer to heaven. Sainte Chapelle was built by King Louis IX in 1246-1248.

Here's a view of just one of the windows, with a close-up showing the detail of just one of the panels below.

One of the statues in the chapel.

They have classical music concerts in Sainte Chapelle. I saw posters for an upcoming Mozart concert. It must be beyond awesome to attend one, at sunset when the I hear the windows are at their most exquisite.

Sainte Chapelle is actually inside a group of federal court buildings. You have to go through the court's metal detectors to visit the chapel. When you exit the chapel, you find yourself in front of the Palais de Justice (the Palace of Justice). I took this picture because it is pretty, but mostly because of what it says above the three doors - "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité". It is all too easy for our eyes to skim over this famous slogan because it is so familiar, almost trite, but it is worth pausing and remembering that the words actually do mean something important, perhaps especially significant in today's troubled times, and that the ideas behind them came from here.