Saint Chapelle

When one thinks of cathedrals in Paris, the two that most probably come to mind are Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur. On this visit to Paris, I visited one that is much smaller, much lesser-known, but arguably more magnificent. The Sainte Chapelle is literally a hidden jewel in Paris' long list of architectural marvels.

Sainte Chapelle (or Holy Chapel) was commissioned by Louis IX and consecrated in 1248.  Its most amazing feature is the Upper Chapel, with thousands of panels of stained glass illustrating more than 1,100 biblical scenes. Spoiler alert: if you plan to visit and don't want to spoil the surprise, DO NOT click on the "Read More" link, ignore the rest of this post and read another one!

To get to the Upper Chapel, visitors must ascend a spiral staircase from the Lower Chapel. The staircase is small and dark, and if you have no idea what is coming, you will literally gasp when you reach the top and enter the Upper Chapel. I know I did!   There is color and light everywhere you look. There are handouts in multiple languages describing the stained glass scenes and how the stained glass was made. 

Don't get me wrong, the Lower Chapel is also beautiful. It's a great example of the Gothic architectural style, but it's really the Upper Chapel that makes the 11.5 Euro entrance fee worth it. 

Sainte Chapelle is located on the Ile de la Cité. To get to Saint Chapelle, just take the metro. The nearest metro stations are Cité (line 4), Saint-Michel (lines 4 and RER B) and Pont Neuf (line 7). I recommend purchasing tickets online so you avoid an additional line to purchase tickets at the door. There are lots of cafes just a short walk away (don't miss the Amorino ice cream shop for delicious gelato beautifully shaped like flowers!).

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