While I love wandering the streets of Paris on my own terms, living in a cultural capital means that I have dozens upon dozens of incredible landmarks and museums at my fingertips. I’ve taken the time to visit many places already. It’s tricky, because even in low tourist season, these places are crowded, particularly on weekends (and I have class during the week). Still, the beautiful sights far outweigh this little pitfall, even on the busiest of days. My trip to Sainte-Chapelle exemplifies this.
I went in the early afternoon on a beautiful Sunday, so basically during high-tourist-tide, especially since the chapel is right by Notre Dame and many will try to hit both in one go. But the reason why I chose this time to go is because timing- and weather- is crucial with Sainte-Chapelle.
I have been dying to go for years, and I mean years. I first learned about the chapel in Art History in high school, and remembered reading its description as a “life-sized jewelry box.” When I visit Paris for the first time that summer with a student group, a couple of my friends and I tried to go to the chapel one afternoon but were turned away; we didn’t know that those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult to enter. Our time in Paris was short, and we didn’t have another opportunity to go.
I mentioned it to my friend Sara when I got here, and she said, “Oh, you have to go… but we’ll go when it’s sunny.” And so after the perpetual gray of the winter and bad timing, last Sunday was the perfect opportunity.
I was not disappointed.
We wrestled the crowds and I was still in complete awe. I’m posting some pictures, but I have to emphasize that these do not the chapel justice; even the most professional, high-grade photography could not. You can’t capture light and color like that. And now I get why the weather is important… it wouldn’t have been quite as spectacular without the sunlight streaming in.
In short, Sainte-Chapelle is a chapel (duh) that was constructed during the 13th century in Gothic-style architecture. What it’s known for, however, is being one of the most intricate and extensive examples of stained glass in the world. It’s small, especially when compared to the scale of cathedrals of Notre Dame, but it is absolutely breathtaking. A “life-sized jewelry box” might seem like a kitschy little description, but I think that’s as accurately as one can put this place into words.
If you have not visited before and ever have the opportunity, I cannot recommend it enough.
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