"A solidly imposing hunk of Gothic architecture" Saint Eustache Church - Eglise Tip by CatherineReichardt

Saint Eustache Church - Eglise, Paris: 31 reviews and 66 photos

 
 

Église Saint-Eustache has been on my 'Must See' Paris list for ages, so I was delighted to have the opportunity to address this oversight on my most recent visit.

My love of Gothic architecture is no secret, so the fact that it would appeal to me was beyound question. However, I was quite surprised as how different it was to many of Paris' earlier Gothic churches in that this has proportions that are substantial and slightly squat rather than soaring, which gives it almost a hulking presence. So, although it shares flying buttresses and other key elements in common with other Gothic masterpieces, I found it a slightly menacing structure, a place where where it would be easier to believe in a God of might and vengeance, rather than a God of love and forgiveness.

Anyway, enough of the fanciful imaginings, and back to the basics. The church was named in honour of St Eustacius, who was a Roman general who was martyred - along with his family - by being burned alive for converting to Christianity. In Gothic terms, the structure is quite late - only having been constructed between 1532 and 1632 (although there has been a church on the site since the 1220s) and, as a result, also reflects Renaissance influences. It is a church that has played a pivotal role in the lives of so many historical figures - the christenings of Madame de Pompadour, Cardinal Richlieu and the playwright Moliere, the funeral mass for Mozart's mother and the first communion of Louis XIV - and yet along with offering its services to the nobility and glitterati, it also ministered to the spiritual needs of the working class traders who plied their trades for centuries at the adjacent fresh produce of Les Halles until the late 1960s.

I personally don't find the interior as attractive or distinguished as the exterior - although others would probably beg to differ - although I do appreciate that one of the massive doors is kept open (although sealed with a glass door) to light up what would otherwise be a somewhat gloomy exterior. To my shame, I missed the Keith Haring memorial to 1980s AIDS victims in one of the side chapels because I hadn't done my research in advance and didn't realise that it was there - but I was absolutely enchanted by the whimsical cartoon-style monument to the former Les Halles traders in another of the side chapels.

St Eustache lays claim to the largest pipe organ in France, and thus is often the venue for classical concerts: watch posters and other media for updates.

Also don't miss out on the lovely public space and excellent kids' play area located on the south side of the church from where this photo is taken - a wonderful place to catch up with friends, have a picnic lunch or just to recharge your batteries after a hard day's sightseeing!

Address: 2, Rue du Jour, 75001 Paris
Phone: +33 1 42 36 31 05
Website: http://www.saint-eustache.org

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Aug 29, 2013
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CatherineReichardt

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