MARCH 16, 2017: a stained glass window inside the Sainte Chapelle church.



Top choice in Paris

Visit Sainte-Chapelle on a sunny day when Paris’ oldest, finest stained glass (1242–48) is at its dazzling best. The chapel is famous for its stained-glass windows, holy relics, and concerts.

Enshrined within the city's original, 13th-century Palais de Justice (Law Courts), this gem-like Holy Chapel is Paris’ most exquisite Gothic monument, completed in 1248. It was conceived by Louis IX to house his personal collection of holy relics, including the famous Holy Crown. Some 70% of the stained glass, covering a total area of 640 square meters, is original. To understand the biblical stories illustrated in the 1113 scenes, view or 'read' the windows from left to right, and from bottom to top.

Beautiful interior of the Sainte-Chapelle's stained glass windows
Gothic stained-glass bedazzlement in Sainte-Chapelle Paris ©Prasit Rodphan/Shutterstock


Sainte-Chapelle was built in the courtyard of the royal palace on the Île de la Cité as a sacred space to house Louis IX's collection of Christian artefacts. The famous Ste-Couronne (Holy Crown) was acquired by the French king in 1239 from the emperors of Constantinople for a sum of money easily exceeding the amount it cost to build the chapel. Formerly safeguarded in the treasury at Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris, the wreath of thorns was transferred to a safe inside the Louvre for safekeeping following the devastating cathedral fire of April 2019. Sainte-Chapelle was built in just six years (compared with nearly 200 years for Notre Dame) and consecrated in 1248.

Insider tips

Join a free 1½-hour guided tour in English (daily between 11am and 3pm); rent a 30-minute audioguide (€3); or download the Sainte Chapelle smartphone app to explore all 1113 windows in luxuriant, intricate detail.

Sainte-Chapelle's location within the Palais de Justice (Law Courts) means extra-tight security; be sure to leave pocket knives, scissors et al at your accommodation.

Classical- and sacred-music concerts held here are a soul-stirring experience really not to be missed. Check schedules and buy tickets at Fnac.

Interior of the Saint Chapelle
Statues, foliage-decorated capitals, angels and so on decorate this sumptuous, bijou chapel ©Botond Horvath/Shutterstock

Tours, tickets and accessibility

Free 45-minute guided tours (only in French) depart from the information desk at the far end of the ground-floor bookshop daily at 11am and 3pm. Audioguides (30 minutes) cost €3, or download the Sainte-Chapelle Windows smartphone app. Entry is free on the first Sunday of the month from November to March.

Skip long queues at Sainte-Chapelle by purchasing a combination ticket next door at Conciergerie, allowing you to join the shorter 'priority access' queue at the chapel.

The number of visitors in wheelchairs is capped at two visitors per floor. There's an accessible entrance on Boulevard du Palais. The lower chapel is accessible by an access ramp, while access to the high chapel is by an elevator in the adjacent building. Visitors can avail of an adapted wheelchair. Toilets are wheelchair-friendly. It's advisable to make a reservation for assistance in advance.

What's nearby?

Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris is about a 10-minute walk away. Local dining is typically geared towards tourists and office workers. That said, pretty Place Dauphine is home to several eateries, including bistro Ma Salle à Manger. Sleek Sequana cooks up creative modern-French dining courtesy of a French-Senegalese chef duo.

Low Angle View Of Sainte-Chapelle Against Cloudy Sky
Sainte-Chapelle was built in just six years (compared with nearly 200 years for Notre Dame) and consecrated in 1248 ©Bianca Pontes/EyeEm/Getty Images

How to get there

Metro Cité (line 4) stop, practically next door.

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