Historic Churches & Cathedrals of Paris – Places for Classical Music

Spires and towers pierce the sky of Paris in every quartier. You may know that they're attached to the famous and historical churches and cathedrals that are scattered throughout the city. But, you may not know that, besides their spiritual significance, the historic churches of Paris are one of the most-loved venues for classical music.

The Insiders way to visit Paris churches and cathedrals is to attend a concert at one of them! And it's easy to buy tickets online

The oldest church is found in the quartier of St Germain des Prés, or St Germain of the Fields, so named because, at the time, the church was well beyond the walls of the city. A church of that name has been on the same site since the mid-6th century. During the French Revolution (remember that?) the churches were secularized and used for meeting places or even warehouses. Napoleon (remember him?) re-established the churches and cathedrals to religious use and restored, with a few exceptions such as The Panthéon, which has remained a secular shrine to great men (and a couple of women) of France.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Paris

One of the great churches of the world, Notre Dame Paris dates back to 1160 when Bishop de Sully began construction on the "Parisian church of the kings of Europe".

Two hundred years and a half-dozen architects later, the cathedral as we know it today was completed. The flying buttresses and gargoyles are familiar to millions of visitors. Learn all about this magnificent cathedral, the best times to visit, how to beat the line-ups and how to attend a concert.

La Sainte-Chapelle


La Sainte-Chapelle, or The Holy Chapel, is on Ile de la Cité and was built in the courtyard of the Royal Palace by Louis IX.

Completed in a relatively short period, construction started in 1240 and finished in 1248. Inside, the church appears weightless and airy, and is one of the most amazing examples of Gothic architecture. The stained glass walls are among the most magnificent anywhere in the world.

La Sainte-Chapelle is also our readers' favourite venue for classical music in Paris. We'll tell you more about this stunning church and how to reserve your seats for a concert.

Église de la Madeleine

Eglise de la Madeleine

L'Église de la Madeleine owes its existence to some of France's last kings and also its first emperor.

In the end it was Napoleon who decreed that a memorial to the Grand Army would be built on the place at the top of Rue Royale, modeled on Greek temples of antiquity.

The history of La Madeleine was by no means straight-forward after that! It took years and upheavals to complete. Today, as well as a church, it's a favoured venue for classical music.

Sacre-Coeur – The White Beast on the Hill


The newest church on this list, Basilique du Sacré-Cœur was completed in 1914 and has become one of the best known Paris churches due to its prominent location and brilliant white color.

There's no better view of Paris than from atop the steps of Sacre-Coeur. In fact, because it's built on the hill of Montmartre, it's the highest point in Paris (higher than the Eiffel Tower).

Other Historic Churches of Note

Other Historic Churches of Interest

There are other fascinating historic churches in Paris — many of them from the Gothic era of architecture, and some of those hosting classical music concerts on a regular basis.

We've already mentioned the oldest church in this list, St Germain des Prés, and that may be familiar to you. But there's also Saint Ephrem, Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre, and Église Saint-Sulpice with its two mismatched towers and its magnificent fountain.

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