Cathedrals and Churches

Some of the most beautiful buildings I saw in France were cathedrals and churches.  Many of them were constructed centuries ago.  The details - flying buttresses, ornately carved stone, gargoyles, stained glass, pipe organs, frescos, statues, candles - are breathtaking.

Most people are familiar with Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.  There are many other Notre-Dame cathedrals throughout France.  I visited two during my time there.

Rouen, a city on the Seine River in Upper Normandy, is the site of Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen.  While a church existed on the current site as early as the fourth century, construction on the gothic style cathedral that stands today began in the 12th century.  Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen may be most notable as the subject of a number of paintings by Claude Monet, each individually estimated to be valued at tens of millions of US dollars.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Bayeux is in the town of Bayeux in Normandy.  It dates to the eleventh century, and was the original home of the Bayeux Tapestry.  The Bayeux Tapestry is an embroidered cloth measuring nearly 230 feet / 70 meters, chronicling the events that led to the Norman conquest of England.

Caen is a notable city in Normandy.  It has many historical buildings that were constructed during the reign of William the Conqueror, who is buried at the Abbaye-aux-Hommes in the city.  It's also noted for the World War II Battle of Caen in 1944, which destroyed most of the city and its environs.  Its Église Saint-Pierre is a modest church on which construction began in the early 13th century.  Its spire was destroyed during the Battle of Caen, but has since been rebuilt.

Église Saint-Sulpice is the second largest church in Paris, only slightly smaller than the Notre-Dame Cathedral.  Construction on the current building began in the 17th century on a site that had a structure dating to the 13th century.  Its Great Organ is noted for its wide ranging sounds and is considered one of the most beautiful in the world.  Recitals are presented Sundays.  Two large shells, given to King Francis I during the 16th century, are located near the entrance to the church and used as holy water fonts or stroups.  Église Saint-Sulpice has also appeared in popular culture, with questionable claims made in Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code.

Sainte-Chapelle in Paris dates to the 13th century.  Its stained glass is stunning, regarded as one of the most extensive collections of in-situ stained glass in the world.

The images I've posted only provide a glimpse of the awe-inspiring beauty of these structures.

A woman gazing at Saint Peter at Église Saint-Sulpice in Paris.

A woman gazing at Saint Peter at Église Saint-Sulpice in Paris.