Next on my day of cramming as many museum pass things in I made my way to Sainte-Chapelle. I don’t really understand why Sainte-Chapelle, a Rayonnant Gothic period church with a 1,113 stained glass windows is considered a museum.
There’s two parts to the museum. The lower and upper chapels. The main floor has some beautiful stained glass but when I went in I was initially a little disappointed.
It has a statue of the Virgin Mary who is the church’s patron saint at the far end and a couple shops and historical things. It was just underwhelming because I thought this was it. I thought, wow, it’s not nearly as intense as everyone else said.
Soon I realized there was a second floor open. (1st floor in France) . The bulk of the 13th century stained glass is on this floor. However the way to get up to the second floor is up the narrow stone spiral staircases. One is for going up the other is for going down.
Sainte-Chapelle was built between 1242 and 1248 under the wishes of Louis IX to house relics of the Passion of Christ including the crown of thorns which brought France into the forefront for Christianity. These relics were housed in the upper chapel where all the beautiful stained glass can be found today. When it was built it was accessible by the king and people close to him from a terrace that connected to the palace. I wish it was still open because those spiral staircases are not the easiest. Please note if you cannot do the stairs there should be an elevator in a nearby building. Ask the staff, they’ll escort you. The stained glass fills 15- 15 meter tall- windows (49 feet).
They follow the story of Christianity with the old and new testaments up to the relics arriving in France, and are meant to be followed left to right and from the front to the back. Here’s a map.
All of the stained glass is truly stunning. They’ve even put down some seats in areas so you can sit and take it all in. Because it is a church and religious place do remember to be respectful while visiting. (I visited in winter, I’m not sure about dress code exactly, but people were shushed by a guard.)
Open daily from 9am until 5pm. (However check their website for possible closures) Regular tickets cost 15 €.