According to some accounts, France’s history can be traced back to the Iron Age. Throughout the centuries, France has housed many historically and architecturally significant churches.
French religious structures, from Gothic cathedrals to modern churches by contemporary architects, embody a significant aspect of the country’s rich cultural heritage. Explore some of France’s most famous and beautiful churches on your next trip to this incredible country.
1. The Bourges Cathedral
Bourges, France‘s, saw the construction of this Roman Catholic Cathedral in the early 13th century. The Bourges Cathedral, constructed in the French Gothic style, proudly stands on a site of great religious importance that can be traced back to at least the third century.
Today, the cathedral has three-part elevations, a modern double-aisled design, and a grand facade adorned with intricate carvings and embellishments, making it even more breathtaking. Surprisingly, many of the original stained glass windows still exist, showcasing various fables and stories from the Old and New Testaments.
2. The Strasbourg Cathedral
Some people call the Strasbourg Cathedral the Pink Cathedral because of its unique color. Sandstone gives the cathedral its pink color, and a large spire adorns one side instead of the originally intended two.
The cathedral features a blend of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, and it continues to host Catholic church services that visitors can attend. Keep an eye out for the astronomical clock inside the cathedral. It dates back to the 19th century and is the third version of the structure.
3. The Monolithic Church of Saint-Jean
Aubeterre-sur-Dronne is a small and picturesque town boasting traditional architecture and charming homes. Underground lies the most incredible attraction in Aubeterre-sur-Dronne. Almost entirely made of limestone, the Monolithic Church of Saint-Jean is a testament to its grandeur.
The church, constructed in the 7th century and expanded in the 12th century, features a vaulted nave, a baptismal pool, and numerous ancient coffins. This unique religious structure stands out from the traditional picture of a French church, making it truly one of a kind.
4. The Rouen Cathedral
5. The Sacre-Coeur
One of France’s most famous churches is the Basilica of Sacré-Coeur in Paris. Perched on a hill overlooking the trendy, artsy Montmartre district, it exudes an imposing presence.
The Romano-Byzantine style influenced its design, strikingly resembling the renowned Hagia Sophia Cathedral in Istanbul. The Sacré-Coeur boasts an impressive mosaic of Jesus, showcasing his golden heart as one of its standout features.
6. Saint Michel d'Aiguilhe.
Reaching the Saint Michel d’Aiguilhe poses quite a challenge. You’ll need to climb 268 steps carved into the rock face to reach this incredible church perched on a rocky point.
The climb is well worth the effort as it offers the opportunity to witness the magnificent sacred brick and rock building constructed in the middle of the 10th century. From below, the church is truly incredible. However, reaching the top offers breathtaking views of the French landscape and the city of Aiguilhe.
7. Notre-Dame de la Garde
Notre-Dame de la Garde, a magnificent cathedral in Marseille, pays tribute to the patron saint of sailors. Builders constructed the Roman Catholic Cathedral in the 19th century, utilizing the Byzantine Revival style, on the remains of an ancient fort.
Make sure you don’t miss out on seeing the iconic Madonna and Child statue, sculpted from copper and adorned with brilliant gold leaf. Also, take a moment to admire the impressive belfry and the beautifully crafted stone arches.
8. The Mont Saint Michel Abbey
The location of the Mont Saint Michel Abbey adds to its appeal and beauty. Access to the island of Mont Saint Michel is limited due to its proximity to the coast near Normandy, being just half a mile away.
As you approach the island, the abbey will come into view, rising majestically from the water and dominating the entire island. The abbey, constructed in the 15th century, continues to be inhabited by Benedictine monks. It is situated amidst charming streets, shops, cafes, and museums dedicated to the island and its rich history.
9. The Reims Cathedral
Construction on Reims Cathedral started over 800 years ago. The cathedral in Reims is a magnificent showcase of Gothic architecture. It stands as the primary draw for visitors to the city. Many French kings were coronated in this cathedral, and historical records indicate that Joan of Arc even attended one of these ceremonies in the 15th century.
The Reims Cathedral took almost a century to complete, featuring multiple chapels and being the first in France’s to use bar tracery.
10. The Amiens Cathedral
The Cathedral of Amiens is just two hours outside Reims in Amiens. The population of Amiens desired a structure similar to the Reims Cathedral when it was revealed. The French Gothic Cathedral of Amiens was constructed in the 13th century. The one in Reims is slightly shorter, as planned.
The nave’s interior is truly a sight to behold, thanks to the impressive cantilevers that create a soaring ceiling. Explore this beautiful cathedral in France and discover the detailed carvings of saints, many of which have been intricately painted.