Paris - Ile De France

Saint Eustache Church - Les Halles - History

This page was updated on: Friday, March 31, 2017 at: 1:57 pm

Saint Eustache Church district


St-Eustache Church

Saint Eustache Church is located near Les Halles.

The district started to develop in the late 12th century after the construction of Philippe-Auguste's Wall, which enclosed the right bank of Paris.

The Louvre fortress and Les Halles market were built and triggered the appearance of new communities.

The demographic expansion resulted in the construction of Saint-Eustache, Saint-Leu-Saint-Gilles and Saint-Roch churches because Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois became too small.

In 1213 a wealthy inhabitant of Paris built a small chapel for the workers of Les Halles.

The dwellings built in the vicinity of the chapel soon became a village then a vibrant district.

The population expended steadily over the centuries.

By the 1500s the modest chapel had become obsolete.

It was replaced therefore by a large church dedicated to St. Eustache, a Christian martyr who lived during the 2nd century AD.

The legend has it that he and his family were burnt alive after being locked in a giant bronze bull statue which was set alight.

Saint Eustache Church, one of the largest Gothic churches

Saint Eustache Church boasts imposing dimensions: 100m long by 43m wide and 33.50 m high!

The construction of Saint Eustache Church stretched over 105 years.


Renaissance facade

The original plans were respected, however, the architect is unknown!

The architecture and decoration are a therefore blend of Gothic, Renaissance and early Baroque styles that reflect a century of architectural evolution.

The imposing facade is French Renaissance.

It blends with the Gothic main building.

It was, however, rebuilt to the identical in 1854 after being partially cracked as a result of subsidence.

The left tower has two bells; the largest weighs 200kg.

It was cast with the metal recovered from the Samaritaine's four pumps, which operated under the Pont-Neuf.

Saint Eustache Church - Interior

The nave and transept are Gothic, the South door Renaissance.


Church wardens' pews

The south transept is decorated with a tapestry originally woven for the chapel of Versailles.

It was amazingly re-discovered in the attic of the church in 1926!

It was restored in the workshops of the prestigious Manufacture des Gobelins.

The chancel is adorned with a splendid stained glass representing Saint-Eustache in The Midst of the Apostles.

The Chapelle de la Vierge (1640) is adorned with a statue sculpted by Jean-Baptiste Pigalle.

The wall paintings are more recent; they were indeed created by Thomas Couture during the 19th century.

The clock that faces the chapel was installed in 1718 and was restored by the clock-maker Lepaute in 1851.

The splendid Churchwardens' pew was a present of the Regent of France, Philippe d' Orléans, in 1720.

The imposing organ dates from 1854.

Who worshipped in Saint Eustache Church?


Virgin by Pigalle

The majestic Saint Eustache Church was chosen as place of worship by many kings and illustrious people.

The composer Lully was married in Saint Eustache Church and Cardinal Richelieu baptized.

The funerals of the writer La Fontaine and the composer Rameau took place there.

Mozart's mother was buried in the church.

The tomb of Colbert, Louis XIV's minister, was decorated by the painter Lebrun.

It is located in the chapel to the left of the chancel.

Finally, the composers Verdi, Liszt and Berlioz took advantage of the excellent acoustics to play some of their music in the church.

Saint Eustache Church is considered the Mecca of Sacred Music in Paris.

Directions: 1st district
Metro: Les Halles on Line 4
Coordinates: Lat 48.863393 - Long 2.345099

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