Cathedrals are buildings reserved for worship and were originally the seats of bishops of the Church. Rather numerous in France, their construction took several hundred years for each of them! Majestic, the cathedrals are true architectural jewels and important testimonies of past centuries. Thus, they add more richness to the French cultural and historical heritage. This top 10 will allow you to discover the 10 most beautiful French cathedrals!
- 1. Strasbourg Cathedral
- 2. The Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres
- 3. Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
- 4. Notre-Dame de Laon Cathedral
- 5. St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral
- 6. Sainte-Cécile Cathedral in Albi
- 7. Saint-Etienne Cathedral in Bourges
- 8. The Major of Marseilles
- 9. Notre-Dame d’Amiens Cathedral
- 10. Saint-Pierre Cathedral in Beauvais
1. Strasbourg Cathedral
142 meters high, it was for a long time the tallest building in the world! Moreover, it exceeds by a few meters the famous pyramids of Egypt. Its Gothic style is immortalized in pink sandstone from the Vosges, a material that gives it a unique color. Accumulating 4 million visitors each year, Strasbourg Cathedral houses within it an astronomical clock dating from the Renaissance . All these reasons make it one of the most unmissable cathedrals in France!
To registerThe city of Strasbourg in Alsace: prepare your tourist visit.alsace-passion.comThe Astronomical Clock of Strasbourg Cathedral
2. The Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres
This gothic building is beautiful on the outside, but it is even more so once you enter. A labyrinth is drawn on the ground, probably inspired by the one imagined by Daedalus to enclose the Minotaur in Greek legends. In addition, Chartres Cathedral is bathed in multicolored light thanks to its 2,500 square meters of stained glass! It is the largest collection of stained glass windows dating from the 12th century in the world.
To registerThe main architectural styles of Catholic churchesHorse Magazine / MonChval Mag: Much more than a magazine about horses and riding!Stained glass windows in Chartres Cathedral
3. Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
It alone constitutes the most visited monument in Europe. Its Gothic architecture dates just from the end of the Romanesque era, making it a building with visionary attractions. Notre-Dame de Paris is of course the muse of many artists, such as Victor Hugo who dedicated his famous novel relating the story of Quasimodo to it. Unfortunately ravaged by flames in April 2019, this cathedral is subject to several renovation projects.
4. Notre-Dame de Laon Cathedral
It is one of the first Gothic cathedrals in the country. Its originality is based on its impressive symmetry, which can be seen in particular thanks to the two square towers which overlook the landscape. On the facade, one can observe the sculptures of 16 oxen, those who helped the builders to bring the stones and the beams to the place of foundation.
5. St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral
A wind from Russia is blowing in the heart of the city of Nice. If the majority of cathedrals in France have a Gothic type architecture, some stand out. This sublime cathedral dates from 1912, which makes it a recent building. At this time, the growing number of Russian Orthodox practitioners in Nice decided on its construction. Thus, St. Nicholas Cathedral is a very important Russian Orthodox place of worship outside of Russia.
6. Sainte-Cécile Cathedral in Albi
Located in Occitania, in the mythical city of Albi, this cathedral is distinguished by its red brick and its southern Gothic style, an architectural movement specific to the South of France. Many Renaissance painters contributed to adorning its interior with magnificent frescoes. Each wall or vault is covered with religious scenes and figures, that is, there are more than 18,000 square meters of painted material. Like what, France has cathedrals in various architectural styles!
To registerSainte-Cécile Cathedralalbi-tourisme.frAlbi Cathedral (Cathedrale Sainte-Cécile d’Albi) Place Sainte-Cecile, Albi, France
7. Saint-Etienne Cathedral in Bourges
Its charm is mainly based on its asymmetry and its disconcerting interior perspective. Its attractive colors make it less austere than its counterparts scattered throughout France. One of its towers is said to be “deaf”. Indeed, it does not contain a bell.
8. The Major of Marseilles
From its full name Sainte-Marie-Majeure de Marseille, this cathedral dates from the 19th century. It would be Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte who would have laid the first stone for its construction. Its unique architectural style comes from neo-Byzantine inspiration. Every year, on August 15, you can attend the Procession of the Madonna. During the latter, porters take out the splendid golden Virgin of the cathedral.
9. Notre-Dame d’Amiens Cathedral
It is the largest cathedral in France, famous for the Gothic sculptures that adorn its facade. The majority of its stained glass windows have disappeared, but other things remain to be admired. For example, the stalls constituting masterpieces of woodcarving. Amiens Cathedral has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981.
10. Saint-Pierre Cathedral in Beauvais
It represents the will of the builders to always want to do bigger and higher. Its choir rises to 48.50 meters in height. Unfortunately, its gigantic structure makes it very fragile. The collapse of the spire in 1573 made it impossible to build a nave. Inside, organs, stained glass windows and an astronomical clock are worth seeing.
Of course, France has many cathedrals. They are all as beautiful as each other, but those listed here will certainly leave you with an unforgettable memory!