Paris - Ile De France Section

Saint Eustache Church - Les Halles - History

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Saint Eustache Church district

Saint Eustache Church is located near Les Halles.

The district developed in the late 12th century when the newly built Wall of Philippe-Auguste enclosed the Rive Droite.

The construction of the Louvre fortress and the covered market triggered the appearance of new communities.

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

In 1213, a wealthy inhabitant of Paris therefore built a small chapel for the workers of Les Halles. The dwellings that appeared in its vicinity soon became a village then a vibrant district.

The population expended steadily over the centuries and by the 1500s the modest chapel was obsolete.

A large church, dedicated to St. Eustache, replaced it. Legend has it that St. Eustache and his family were locked inside a giant bronze bull statue which was then set alight.

Saint Eustache Church, one of the largest Gothic churches

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

Its construction stretched over 105 years, however, the original plans were respected. Amazingly the architect is unknown!

The architecture and decoration are a therefore a successful blend of Gothic, Renaissance and early Baroque styles.

The imposing French Renaissance facade beautifully blends with the Gothic building. However, it was rebuilt to the identical in 1854 as cracks appeared following subsidence of the structure.

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

This diversity of architectural stye is also found inside the church; the nave and transept are indeed Gothic, while the South door is Renaissance.

A tapestry, originally woven for the chapel of Versailles, adorns the south transept. It was amazingly 're-discovered' in the attic of the church in 1926 and was restored in the workshops of the Manufacture des Gobelins.

A splendid stained glass representing Saint-Eustache in The Midst of the Apostles adorns the chancel.

Jean-Baptiste Pigalle sculpted the statue in the Chapelle de la Vierge (1640) and Thomas Couture painted the murals in the 19th century. The clock that faces the chapel dates from 1718 and was restored by the clock-maker Lepaute in 1851.

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

Finally, the imposing organ dates from 1854.

Who worshiped in Saint Eustache Church?

Many kings and illustrious people worshiped in Saint Eustache Church.

The composer Lully was indeed married there 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 painter Lebrun decorated the tomb of Colbert, Louis XIV's minister, which is located to the left of the chancel.

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

Saint Eustache Church is indeed 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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