The gemstone tapestry of the Sainte Chapelle stained glass windows. Photo © Art Journey Paris.
During the Middle Ages a new type of architecture was created where the walls became luminous tapestries of colour, translucent illustrated scripture. Its most striking example is the Sainte Chapelle, whose walls are almost entirely made of stained glass windows.
Conceived to house the Crown of Thorns, the Royal chapel is in fact an immense casket, a gem-set reliquary, a preview of Heavenly Jerusalem, depicted as "made of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone".
Like the medieval visitor who described "such degree of beauty that entering it one feels like being taken to heaven and imagines being introduced into one of Paradise's most beautiful rooms", we will enter a gigantic light box, and wonder at the light passing through the stained glass windows.
And then we will carry on this journey through medieval wonders with a walk around Notre Dame cathedral. The monument, fortunately, survived the fire, thanks to both the ambition of its architects and the courage of the Parisian firefighters.
We will walk around the cathedral, discuss its history, the first anonymous architect, the geniuses whose names are inscribed on its walls, Jean de Chelles and Pierre de Montreuil, often thought to be the architect of the Sainte Chapelle.
There would be no sadness, only admiration at the talents and ambition of those who created and build two world masterpieces, the Sainte Chapelle and Notre Dame cathedral.
A tapestry of light, the stained glass windows of the Sainte Chapelle. Photo © Art Journey Paris.
Notre-Dame cathedral before the tragic fire. In a few years, the cathedral should again look like this. Photo © Art Journey Paris.
The Sainte Chapelle - On the île de la Cité, open every day from 9 am till 5 pm in winter or 7 pm in summer.
Notre Dame cathedral - Fortunately, Notre Dame cathedral has very much survived the fire and is undergoing a major restoration. We will of course walk around it, discuss at length its architecture, how it survived the tragedy and what is done to reinforce the cathedral.
Sainte Chapelle entrance tickets - Being officially recognised we of course visit the Sainte Chapelle with a reservation time, in other words the method to Skip the Line, that is having an officially qualified guide taking care of both the tickets and reservation for you.
The entrance tickets are extra, are free for children, and we need advance notice to request a reservation time for the Sainte Chapelle.
The Conciergerie. Photo © Art Journey Paris.
The Sainte Chapelle, as Royal Chapel, was part of the Conciergerie, the King's palace in Paris. On the same location of the center of power since the days of the Roman Empire, the Conciergerie was the main Royal residence in Paris, before the Kings moved to the nearby Louvre.
The Conciergerie then became an infamous prison, where Queen Marie Antoinette was held and judged. Visiting the Conciergerie would be an ideal part of a medieval day visit.
These two monuments are likely to ignite your interest in medieval art so we can also take you to the medieval treasures of the Louvre with our Medieval Louvre tour or the Middle Ages Museum, Cluny; and a forgotten but amazing treasure, the Saint Denis Basilica where most French Kings are buried...
With the funding for the restoration of Notre Dame and rebuilding of its roof secured, let us not forget the 600 men and women who actually saved the cathedral, risking their lives in the process, the firefighters.
If you wish to thank them, please make a donation to the Oeuvres Sociales des Pompiers de Paris, the official Paris firefighters charitable fund, to help them and their families. The first page is in French but click and enter, then you have an English language choice. Please visit the Parisian Firefighters Charitable Works website.
We can also combine a photographic tour of the masterpieces of medieval architecture with our private tour of the Saint Chapelle. To give you an idea of the sites and photos that can be taken, please visit either our Art Journey Flickr, and Instagram.
Please ask in advance about taking photos of the Sainte Chapelle and the medieval monuments of Paris.
To inquire about a private tour of the Sainte-Chapelle, please mention the date of the visit as well as the number of participants, using the form below, thank you.