We visit the church of Saint-Eustache –
more impressive than Notre Dame?

Every visitor to Paris should see Notre Dame of course, but fewer go to Saint-Eustache in Les Halles, which is a shame because it’s a stunning church that is – in our eyes – at least as impressive as the cathedral…

photos: JasonW

To tell the truth, we hadn’t been back to Saint-Eustache for quite a while. As it’s right in the centre of town, we tend to go past it or catch a glimpse of it so often that it’s almost as if we know it be heart! Stepping inside for the first time in nearly a decade was a very pleasant surprise.

Construction started on the church in 1532 and was never finished (as you can see if you look at the façade). inside, with 33 metres up to the vaulted stone ceiling, looking up makes your head spin…

One side of the churh is angled south, meaning that certain stained glass window are beautifully illuminated during the day…

Other details have been restored, like the painted chapels and ornate lighting…

Unfortunately, other parts of the church are still in need of heavy restoration. Ad the façade – or at least a part of it – has been restored, there’s hope that work will continue inside…

What pushed us to visit the church again was the new installation there by photographer/artists Pierre et Gilles, as part of the Force de l’Art event that we told you about here. The parish is pretty avant garde (they even have their own blog!) and support both modern art and people living with AIDS, which is fairly rare for a church. A piece by Keith Haring is also displayed there…

For La Force de l’Art – whose main even is at the Grand Palais – Pierre et Gilles have created their first Madonna and Child, and it’s also the first time that one of their photos has been displayed in a place of worship. It’s presented on scaffolding surrounding by pulsing roadwork lamps. At its base ar car parts, echoing the photo itself.

By the way, it’s a very glamourous Madonna: she’s wearing a Christian Lacroix dress!

We like the photo, and love the setting. You can see it until 1st June 2009 and there’s more information (in French) about the installation on the church’s blog here.

We highly recomment a visit to the Saint-Eustache church (map here)! If you want to see more photos on our Flickr gallery, click here.