When Notre Dame went up in flames, it wasn’t just a physical building that was devastated, but a part of history. The cathedral has long been an international landmark and is the most visited monument in Europe. French President Emmanuel Macron has declared it will be rebuilt, but in the meantime, one way to honor Notre Dame is to visit some of Paris’ other churches.
It took a century to build this church, starting in 1532, and you understand why upon discovering its awe-inducing size. Located at the northern edge of the Halles neighborhood, in the 1st arrondissement, Saint-Eustache regularly hosts concerts of all kinds. As the fate of Notre Dame’s majestic organ remains uncertain, it’s reassuring to know the one from Saint-Eustache is still there. You can hear its 8,000 pipes at Sunday mass and during regular concerts (many of them free). 146 rue Rambuteau; saint-eustache.org
While we associate Parisian churches, cathedrals and basilicas with the Gothic and Renaissance eras, some spectacular ones were built long afterward. The most famous is probably the Sacré-Cœur, perched atop Montmartre and consecrated in 1919. But you may also want to check out the 9th arrondissement’s slightly older Saint-Eugène Sainte-Cécile, built in the mid 1850s. The Neo-Gothic exterior is relatively nondescript, but inside is an abundance of eye-popping stained glass and paintings. 4 rue du Conservatoire, saint-eugene.net
The layout of the Saint-Roch church, one of the biggest in Paris, was inspired by that of Notre Dame. The Sun King himself, Louis XIV, put down the first stone, in 1653. But what truly distinguishes Saint-Roch is its vast collection of religious art. The building suffered much during the French Revolution, but it endured and became a repository for art that had been hosted in destroyed or impaired churches. A short walk from the Tuileries, Saint-Roch is a quiet haven in a touristy part of the city. 296 rue Saint-Honoré, paroissesaintroch.fr
Located a stone’s throw from the Pantheon, in the 5th arrondissement, this imposing 16th-century church embodies the transition between the Gothic and Renaissance styles. Notably, it hosts the remaining relics of Saint Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris, as well as those of playwright Jean Racine and mathematician and theologian Blaise Pascal. The church also boasts the city’s only “jube” — a kind of ornate partition or screen separating the religious space from the laity in the nave, here a stunning double spiral staircase. Place Sainte-Geneviève, saintetiennedumont.fr
This 17th-century church in the 11th arrondissement is off the beaten tourist path but features a treasure trove of art such as stained glass in varying styles and unusual sculptures and paintings, including a trompe-l'œil frieze. History buffs will be fascinated by the headstone bearing the name Louis XVII — the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Latter analysis showed the bones were that of an older boy, so the mystery surrounding the prince’s remains endures. 36 rue Saint-Bernard, saintemargueriteparis.fr