A Stroll Through Paris’ Sainte-Chapelle

Shimmering like a radiant jewel box, Sainte-Chapelle is often overlooked by visitors to Paris, who only visit Notre Dame Cathedral. I’d long read how Sainte-Chapelle is a must-see and favorite among shutterbugs, yet it took me several visits to the City of Light to see this Gothic masterpiece.

The chapel was commissioned by King Louis IX of France, who also is the namesake for St. Louis, Missouri. Despite extensive damage inflicted during the French Revolution, the chapel’s 13th-century stained glass largely survived.

Our summer visit coincided with an extensive restoration project, which concealed some of the stunning panels, nevertheless we savored the chance to take in the opulent details.

Sainte Chapelle 1

Sainte Chapelle 2

Sainte Chapelle 3

Sainte Chapelle Paris floor

Sainte Chapelle Paris lower chapel

Sainte Chapelle Paris upper chapel

Where in the World?

Planning Pointers:

  • Sainte-Chapelle is located next to the Justice Department, so expect longer lines and an extensive security check. We didn’t know this latter detail in advance, so in order to pass security we had to hand over a pocketknife that we’ve been picnicking with since our travels in Vietnam.
  • Consult the official website for Saint Chapelle’s opening hours and ticket details.
  • Google Arts & Culture showcases some nice historical photos and engravings of Sainte-Chapelle.

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Published by Tricia A. Mitchell

Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta; Heidelberg, Germany; and Split, Croatia. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene. A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia. Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.

53 thoughts on “A Stroll Through Paris’ Sainte-Chapelle

    1. Good morning, Tina, and thank you! We visited Sainte-Chapelle on a rather overcast day, which made me ponder how it must look with the sunlight streaming in through the stunning stained glass. I’ve also read that the evening concerts – with the entire chapel illuminated – are wonderful. Have you been?

    1. Rachael, are you headed to Paris soon? I imagine the restoration work will be done then, allowing you to photograph the entire chapel. If it is pretty with a portion scaffolded and covered, I can only imagine how it must look completely finished!

    1. Stephen, my pleasure. These pictures are from earlier this summer. After having read about Sainte-Chapelle for many years, I was really motivated to work this into our must sees. I hope you’ll also have the chance to get there soon.

    1. Perhaps if you make it to Monet’s former home garden in Giverny for your next anniversary you can put Sainte-Chapelle on your itinerary. You’re right that the stained glass looked stunning whether illuminated with artificial or natural light – such stunning artistry!

    1. Ramey, such is the joy of travel, right? Speaking of, I shall look forward to reading your adventures from South America. That’s an elusive continent that I’d love to visit someday soon. :)

      1. Indeed! I hear being inside Ste. Chapelle is like being inside a giant jewel box. All those enormous stained glass windows, a tiny chapel but an enormous reliquary. So cool!

        South America is an amazing place, very different from Europe, though at times very European in influence. We are very much looking forward to returning. Thanks for following along!

  1. beautiful!! and reminiscent of Notre Dame a mon avis (I think I got that right. been a while since I wrote any French!). thanks for the follow by the way :)

    1. So true, Darlene, about a place’s lesser-frequented sites. On our most recent trip to Paris, we also enjoyed exploring a few of the covered (shopping) passages. Surprisingly, there weren’t many other visitors there that afternoon. That made the afternoon explorations all the more fun.

    1. Gerard, I suppose it should be especially beautiful since it was built for a king. When we were there, I enjoyed imagining how all the stained glass panels were created and put in place. So much intricate work.

      Wish you a lovely autumn weekend. Here in the Alps we just got our first snowfall of the season. It came as a great surprise for October!

  2. Stunning photos Tricia. It is so hard to do this chapelle justice but you have captured it beautifully. It is my must-do visit for anyone going to Paris. I have visited a few times and each time a few panels have been covered for restoration or cleaning but it would be wonderful to see it in all its glory. I read an interesting fact that during WWII (and maybe WWI) all glass panels were removed from Sainte-Chapelle and Notre-Dame to avoid damaged from the bombing and put back later!!

    1. Melinda, thanks for sharing your experience and that interesting historical tidbit about both Sainte-Chapelle and Notre Dame. It’s mind-boggling to imagine the delicate panels being painstakingly removed, placed into storage, and then returned.

  3. Tricia, I think that Sainte-Chapelle is my favorite cathedral in all the world, and your photos capture it beautifully. Your description of it as a jewel box is so perfect. When I entered the chapel the first time, it just took my breath away. ~Terri

    1. Terri, you both are so well-travelled that it’s quite a declaration to say it’s your favorite! Was it undergoing restoration work during your visit?

      Speaking of visiting, I haven’t been able to properly track your eastern European adventures as of late. I look forward to doing so shortly though, and hope you’re having a fantastic time, which I know you are.

  4. Isn’t this the most beautiful place. We didn’t know about it until our guide at Mont St Michel mentioned it and I asked him where it was. He said we must definitely go there so we followed his advice. The queue was very long but it was worth the wait and the effort of going through all the security. It was sunny when we were there and the glass was glorious. I also loved the painted effects on the walls. I actually thought it was fabric until I looked closely.

    1. With the sunshine, the light streaming through the windows must have created kaleidoscope-like effects. Sounds stunning, Carol!

      What did you think of Mont-Saint-Michel? Did you get a chance to walk out on the tidal flats?

      1. Our visit to Mont St Michel was the absolute highlight of our five week holiday for me, in 2008. We had a great guide who was so passionate about its story, and we also had a glorious day weather-wise. After reading about the quick sand we didn’t risk walking out there, but I got great photos. I will write about it all one day.

      2. We’ve been and we’re home again. We had five marvellous weeks. Bruges was gorgeous, Brussels is so cosmopolitan and vibrant and I really enjoyed the history in Cologne. I also enjoyed the Belgian chocolate and Belgian waffles…very much.

    1. A pleasure to have you along virtually, Lynne. With today’s more advanced equipment, I often wonder what treasures developers could build if they used more lasting materials as they did with this chapel?

      Hope you’re well and enjoying a splendid autumn!

      1. We are presently on an autumn road trip…to Memphis to see family and then take in the Arkansas along the White River/Miss River, then back to Mississippi along the River and then Louisiana”s Cajun country and then home.Haven’t explored this region. Happy autumn to you both.

  5. Well, even if I do prefer the Notre-Dame… I agree that the stained glasses are beautiful! As you know, I do have a special “bind” to the Notre-Dame, since a lot happens there… and the portal between dimentions is quite nicely concealed!
    :-D claudine

      1. It does, indeed… not only for Hator Var Darquen de Aguillar… :-D but a lot has to be disclosed in the continuation of the novel… Are you enjoying it? Lovely night :-)claudine

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