A Catholic’s Guide to Paris, France
Saint Denis introduced Christianity to Paris in the Third Century, and by the Fifth Century, the first churches were built in the city. As time went on Paris, located in the area known as Ile de France, became home to some of the most magnificent churches in Christendom. What can we say that has not already been said? Paris is Europe’s most popular destination….and for the Catholic traveler, there so many beautiful and spiritually rich experiences here that you would need to spend a few years there to see them all. But listed here are just a few.
Most of the major churches offer daily Mass while some, such as the Sacre Coeur, have perpetual adoration. Some churches, such as Saint Germain des Pres, offer concerts on a regular basis. Upon your first visit you might want to schedule an orientation tour to see the highlights of the city before exploring more deeply.
Major Catholic Sites in Paris:
Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Sacre Coeur): Perpetual Adoration for over 100 years
Basilica of Saint Denis: Tombs of many kings and queens of France in the crypt area
Chapel of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Thomas: Statue of Our Lady of Good Deliverance in nearby Neuilly-sur-Seine
Church of Saint Germain-l’Auxerrois: medieval church near the Louvre..temporary location for Masses of Notre Dame Cathedral
Church of Saint Nicholas: Statue of Our Lady of Miracles on the outskirts of Paris
La Madeleine Church: originally designed by Napolean, later dedicted to Saint Mary Magdalene
Notre Dame Cathedral: Most famous Church in Paris
Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption: Polish mission church in Paris
Notre Dame des Victoires (Our Lady of Victories): Relics of Saints Louis and Zélie Martin..parents of St. Therese of Lisieux.
Picpus Cemetery & the Martyrs of Compiegne: 1,306 people interred in the mass graves…victims of “The Terror”, including the martyrs of Compiegne as well as the grave of General-Marquis de La Fayette
Saint Chapelle: a royal chapel,the residence of the Kings of France until the 14th century, beautiful stained glass
Saint Etienne du Mont (Chapel of Saint Genevieve): dedicated to Saint Genevieve, patron saint of Paris
Saint Germain des Pres: noted for its’ wonderful acoustics….hosts concerts and recitals featuring Gregorian chant
Saint Joseph’s: English-speaking Church in Paris
Saint Pierre de Montmartre: a hidden gem near Sacre Coeur…over 800 years old
Saint Sulpice: dedicated to Sulpitius the Pious…second in size only to Notre Dame
Shrine of the Miraculous Medal at Rue du Bac: Site of the apparitions to St. Catherine Laboure where she received the Miraculous Medal , plus her incorrupt body
Shrine of Saint Vincent de Paul: His tomb and skeleton covered in wax
We have just added a new Paris Guidebook Little Black Book of Paris to our bookstore that gets great reviews because it is organized geographically rather than categorically. Not necessarily just for Catholic sites, by the way.
And, of course, we always recommend the “Streetwise” maps–easy to carry & waterproof. There is also a companion Streetwise Map for the Paris subway system (Le Metro).
Paris is divided into 20 districts, known as “Arrondissements“. The twenty arrondissements that branch out in a clockwise spiral pattern from the center of the city. The number of the arrondissement matches the last two digits of the postal code.
It might be helpful if taking a taxi or asking for directions, to know the arrondissement as well as the address just in case the person you are asking (or the taxi cab driver) is not familiar with the street. Street signs will normally have an abbreviation of the arrondissement as well as the street number as shown here (7th Arr).
You may wish to consider a day tour of Paris including a Dinner Cruise on the River Seine, a favorite of many visitors.
Traveling by air? Paris has two major airports: Charles de Gaulle and Orly. Most international flights use Charles de Gaulle, although some use Orly as well. Check airline schedules, see fares & buy tickets here
Traveling by train?
As you can tell by the map, Paris originally had 4 major train stations, one for each point of the compass. In addition, there are now two more, bringing the total to six. Check out this great guide Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide for Independent Travellers. And, of course Paris can be a great base for some day trips to cities such as Chartres or Lisieux.
A flashback in time to elegant dining: for a unique dining experience, consider Le Train Bleu, located in the Gare du Lyon train station. This magnificent setting will probably surprise you.
Perhaps you can imagine yourself dining as you wait to board the Orient Express traveling from Paris to Istanbul back in the early 20th Century…….is that Hercule Poirot I see over there?