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"The glorious exterior of St-Germain-des-Pres" Paroisse Saint-Germain-des-Prés Tip by CatherineReichardt

Paroisse Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris: 21 reviews and 63 photos

  St Germain des Pres, Paris
by CatherineReichardt

There are so many beautiful churches in Paris - probably more than in any other city I've visited - that I find it impossible to say which is my favourite. However, in terms of sheer simplicity and purity of line, the exquisite Romanesque St Germain-des-Pres would have to win hands down.

St Germain-des-Pres is the oldest church in Paris and was founded as a Benedictine monastery by Childebert in 542. At the time, it was located just outside the city walls of Paris ('des Pres' means 'in the water meadows'). It served as the burial place for the Merovingian kings and became one of the wealthiest monasteries in France during the Middle Ages, but much of the complex was destroyed by fire and other disasters over the centuries and the former royal occupants were relocated to the royal necropolis at St Denis, leaving behind only the church. In particular, I find the bell tower over the main entrance to be endearingly sturdy, as it was designed to bear the weight of the enormous bells on foundations that were regularly waterlogged when the Seine flooded.

In keeping with its monastic past, the interior of the church is unstated and very peaceful. It has an evocative atmosphere and is the sort of place where you cannot help but feel a connection across the centuries to the Dark Ages in which the monastery was at the zenith of its importance.

Address: Metro – St-Germain des Pres – line 4
Directions: Between Boulevard Saint-Germain and Rue de l'Abbaye
Phone: 33 1 55 42 81 33

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Mar 31, 2012
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