Église Saint-Sulpice – Paris’s towering Baroque masterwork
What makes the Église Saint-Sulpice in Paris so special?
Distinguished by soaring twin towers and tiers of columns, the Église Saint-Sulpice is the second-largest church in Paris. Only Notre-Dame is bigger. A baroque masterpiece steeped in history, this landmark in the spirited Latin Quarter is a stunning sight, inside and out.
You may also like
The striking exterior opens into an equally magnificent interior, decorated with wood panels and murals by Eugène Delacroix. Victor Hugo was married there, and it featured in The Da Vinci Code book. It’s an enchanting sanctuary filled with cultural and architectural curiosities that add to the wonder of this soaring monument.
What is Saint Sulpice?
Église Saint-Sulpice is a Roman Catholic Church first constructed in 1646 on the foundations of a 12th-century church. The work was led by Jean-Jacques Olier, founder of the Saint-Sulpice society, created to honor Sulpitius the Pious. The Sulpitius still meet today. Noted for its slightly mismatching towers and neat columns, the church is more than an imposing exterior.
Inside are delightful Eugène Delacroix murals and the eye-catching painted dome of the Lady Chapel. At one end of an ornate interior studded with gold and statues rises the Grand Organ, an instrument worthy of the name. The church is renowned for its skilled organists, with the roll call of past organ masters dutifully remembered in the church.
The church has played host to several noted figures of Parisian history. The poet Charles Baudelaire was baptized there, as was the future libertine and scandal factory, the Marquis de Sade. Victor Hugo married his long-term wife, Adèle Foucher, there. And a funeral mass was held in the church for the former president, Jacques Chirac. An arresting façade and beautiful interior have encouraged several writers to feature Saint Sulpice in novels.
Its role in the wildly popular The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown has frustrated resident clergy, who have posted a notice clarifying that every Saint Sulpice reference is entirely fictitious. A request to film the subsequent Hollywood was declined. Probably without hesitation. Today, visitors drop by to pray and marvel at the elegant grandeur. It’s a compelling alternative to nearby Notre Dame and Sainte Chapelle. A calming haven where you can happily lose an hour appreciating the extraordinary craftsmanship.
Tickets and entrance to Saint Sulpice
Saint Sulpice is free at all times. Contributions are accepted and guided tours in French are offered by volunteers.
Tours of Saint Sulpice
To experience the beauty and astonishment of Saint Sulpice and everything around this church, you should do a tour. There are a million options for a great tour throughout the streets and stories of Paris, but we give you a quick overview over the best ones!
Saint-Germain-des-Près: 2-hours Walking Tour
Da Vinci Code in Paris: Follow the Trail with a Local
Private Tour: Secrets of Notre Dame & Latin Quarter
A tour through the Saint-Germain-des-Prés quartier passing Saint-Sulpicea and the Luxembourg Gardens.
Discover secrets about the Da Vinci Code, which was filmed near Saint Sulpice.
Let a local paint revealing pictures, touring around the streets of Île de la Cité and the Latin Quarter.
Tours of the Saint Sulpice: The Details
Saint Germain Mythical and Artistic TourWalking Tour in Quartier Saint-Germain-des-PrésAdd to myTravel added
With history seeping out from the cobblestones of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, some local knowledge can help reveal the secrets of this celebrated neighbourhood in the 6th arrondissement. Exciting sights mixed with fascinating stories will await you on this tour. Immerse yourself in the myth of Saint Germain des Pres. The following spots will be visited on this tour: Église de Saint Germain des Prés, Les Deux Magots, Café de Flore, Rue de Furstemberg, Rue de Seine, Rue Dauphine and Le Procope.
The Da Vinci Code in Paris: Follow the Trail with a LocalWalking Tour in 6. ArrondissementAdd to myTravel added
Learn secrets — real and imagined — on an English language tour that navigates the locations and fantastical ideas of the inordinately popular book.
Saint Sulpice is central to the plot, even if the fading notice in the church tells you to look elsewhere. A perfect tour for every Fan of Dan Brown Fans which would like to hear something new about the Da Vinci Code!
Private Tour: Secrets of Notre Dame & Latin Quarter with a LocalWalking Tour in Île de la CitéAdd to myTravel added
Let a local paint revealing pictures, touring around the intoxicating streets of Île de la Cité and the Latin Quarter.
With centuries of history to unwrap in the heart of Paris, an expert speaking English or French will add color to a view-filled tour.
The soaring Saint Sulpice is among the largest and most beautiful churches in Paris
Highlights of Saint Sulpice
The star turns at Saint Suplice are found inside and out. First, admire the towers and then note how they look slightly different. The novel design still fires discussion today. The public square, Place Saint-Sulpice, is the ideal place to linger and drink in the detail.
Afterwards, head in to see the striking murals by the celebrated Romantic artist Eugène Delacroix. Filling the walls and ceiling of the Chapel of the Holy Angels, the finest work is the acclaimed ‘Jacob Wrestling with the Angel.’
The delicately decorated Dome of the Lady Chapel is another astonishing sight. And you can’t ignore the immense organ towering above the pulpit. You can hear the fabled organists of Saint-Sulpice clearing the pipes before Sunday mass and during irregular Sunday concerts.
A refuge for churchgoers and curious travelers, Saint-Sulpice is an absorbing breakpoint when exploring the inimitable Latin Quarter and Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
Tips for visiting Saint Sulpice
There aren’t too many need-to-know tips before visiting this functioning church. However, a couple can ensure you don’t miss the highlights.
- French-language guided tours can be joined for free. Check online. Every Saturday afternoon, a public reception reveals the history of Église Saint-Sulpice (2:30pm – 5.30pm.)
Magnificent organ concerts on sundays
Sunday organ concerts from the city’s finest organists are a regular event. You can check the church website for updates. Otherwise, you’re guaranteed a short performance before Sunday masses.
Is Saint Sulpice worth visiting?
Saint Sulpice is an unmissable stop on a tour of Paris’s most compelling tourist quartiers. Impressive in stature and style, visitors are welcome to step inside and admire the elegant interior, making it a worthy visit for culture-hungry explorers.
Historic facts about Saint Sulpice
Saint Sulpice was raised on the foundations of a 12th-century church. Commissioned by the founder of the Saint Sulpice Society, a seminary dedicated to training new priests, it was built to honor Sulpitius the Pious. A bell tower and new façade were added the following century, partially inspired by the St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. More renovations followed: the church was not formally completed until 1870, more than two centuries after the first stones were laid. An integral part of the local community, many Parisians have worshiped there. The most notable is Victor Hugo, who married there.
Infamously, in 1871 Paris Commune revolutionaries commandeered the sumptuous interior. Fortunately, they did not burn it down like so many other landmarks. However, the church had a near-miss following an arson attack in 2019, the same year Notre-Dame was gutted by fire. The church’s other claim to fame is attracting incredibly skilled organists.
You can still hear the Grand Organ in action today, a haunting sound in the right hands. You can also meet Sulpicians who are still running the Saint Sulpice Society. It’s an enduring tribute to Jean-Jacques Olier, the visionary who made the church a reality.
What to do after visiting Saint Sulpice
Step outside Église Saint-Sulpice, and there is a world of choice.
- Head into the Latin Quarter, home to the Panthéon and the venerable Sorbonne University. Stop for coffee and cakes near the Seine at the fabled Shakespeare and Company bookstore and café.
- Or move into Saint-Germain-des-Prés for buzzing bistros, chic shops, and the oldest cafés in Paris. Add a detour to see the Saint-Germain-des-Prés church, built in 543.
- If you haven’t tired of religious edifices, Île de la Cité is a 15-20 minute walk away. There you’ll find the iconic Notre-Dame and glittering Sainte-Chappelle, even older and more magnificent churches. For a picnic, head to the lawns of the picturesque Luxembourg Gardens nearby.
Is Église Saint-Sulpice bigger than Notre-Dame Cathedral?
No – Notre-Dame Cathedral shades Saint-Sulpice into second place. Both are majestic sights.
What is the nearest Métro stop for Église Saint-Sulpice?
The nearest Métro stations for Église Saint-Sulpice are:
- Sulpice (Line 4) and
- Mabillon (Line 10)
Can you go inside Église Saint-Sulpice?
Yes – it’s free to enter Saint Sulpice church and admire the extraordinary interior.
You may also like
I am an absolute travel enthusiast with a great love for the USA, Spain and Italy. And England. And France. You can find lots of travel inspiration from me regularly on our YouTube-channel .
Leave a Reply