One of my favorite things about Paris is all the gorgeous buildings with the history of France woven through every detail.

So I was over the moon when I got the chance to hop on a historical tour of Île de la Cité last October that included stops at some of Paris’ most iconic historical buildings.

I was especially excited because the tour included a skip-the-line entry to Sainte Chapelle.

I’d had it on my Paris bucket list for years, but never really wanted to deal with the lines to get in, so it worked out perfectly.

While lots of iconic landmarks and buildings around the world don’t always live up to the hype, I’m happy to report that this jewel box of a history absolutely does!

If you haven’t been yet, I highly suggest finding a spot for this gorgeous chapel on your itinerary.

Bonus points if you’re able to set aside an entire morning to do the historical walking tour I went on with Walks—I seriously cannot recommend it enough!

Either way, keep reading to find out everything you need to know to plan the perfect trip to Sainte Chapelle.

Sainte-Chapelle Overview

sainte chapelle paris

Head to the Île de la Cité in the heart of Paris, you’ll find the stunning Sainte-Chapelle.

This Gothic-style royal chapel is truly a sight to behold, even if it doesn’t look like much from the outside.

I’m ashamed to say, it took multiple trips to Paris to cross this place off my list because I never wanted to wait in line.

So I was thrilled when Walks Tours invited me on their Île de la Cité tour last fall.

If you’re looking for a tour with skip-the-line and a knowledgeable guide, you can’t beat this tour group.

I learned so much on our walking tour, and was absolutely blown away by all the history and architecture.

Sainte Chappelle is famous for its breathtaking stained glass windows that effectively turn the chapel into a jewel box of color.

As you step inside, you’ll notice the vibrant panels illustrate biblical stories, allowing an immersive experience into sacred history.

King Louis IX, who later became Saint Louis, directed the construction of Sainte Chappelle in the 13th century. The primary purpose of the chapel was to enshrine precious Christian relics, including the Crown of Thorns.

With its consecration in 1248, the chapel is an enduring testament to Gothic architecture’s grandeur, despite its relatively modest size.

Notable features of Sainte-Chapelle:

  • High-Gothic design
  • 15 stained glass windows measuring 15 meters each
  • Two-tiered structure
  • Presence of a unique spire

This chapel, embodying the spirit of medieval France, has gracefully withstood the passage of time, remaining one of Paris‘s can’t-miss landmarks.

Architectural Design

Gothic Influence

inside first level of sainte chapelle in paris medieval church

Sainte Chapelle’s design features the hallmark elements of Gothic construction, including slender pillars, a dynamic spire, and the distinct upward-reaching lines that draw your eyes heavenward.

If you really want to get into details, technically experts say this is a prime example of Rayonnant Gothic style architecture.

This is because decorative elements are given lots of detail and consideration, and the appearance of structural lightness to the building.

Chapel Divisions


The Sainte Chapelle has two levels, so be ready to do a winding staircase when you visit.

Back in the day, the palace staff primarily used the lower chapel.

The glamorous upper chapel was exclusive to the king and his close entourage.

When you visit the second level, pay attention to the network of vaulted ceilings and delicate pillars that culminate in an awe-inspiring display of architectural prowess while supporting the chapel.

Iconic Stained Glass


While you’re visiting, don’t miss out on the Sainte Chapelle’s renowned stained glass windows.

Over 1,113 panels depict over 1,000 biblical figures, including scenes from the Old Testament, the lives of the 12 apostles, and the complex narrative of the Last Judgment.

I loved our tour because our guide had lots of fun fact to go along with the historical ones.

The rose window is a centerpiece, casting a kaleidoscope of colors across the chapel interior.

If you visit at the right time of day, when the sun is glowing, the inside of Sainte Chapelle is truly unforgettable.

Historical Significance

Royal Chapel and Relics

Ceiling and Stained glass windows at Sainte chapelle

Sainte-Chapelle, which was ordered to be constructed by King Louis IX, also known as Saint Louis, was consecrated on 26 April 1248.

They designated it as the royal chapel and a reliquary to house the sacred relics of the Passion of Christ.

Among these were the Crown of Thorns and a piece of the True Cross, elevating the chapel’s religious significance profoundly.

It’s easy to see how the chapel’s design reflects its holy intent, with its soaring stained glass windows illustrating bible scenes, leading the spectators’ gaze toward the heavens.

Revolution and Restoration

Paris Ceiling of Sainte Chapelle in Paris FRANCE

The French Revolution caused significant damage to Sainte-Chapelle and resulted in the dispersal of its relics.

Oddly enough, over the years, the piece of the crown somehow ended up in Anthony’s Chapel, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The 19th century brought a wave of restoration led by architects, including Jean-Baptiste Lassus, Émile Boeswillwald, and Félix Duban.

Thanks to their collective work, they restored the chapel to its former grandeur, balancing historical authenticity with the era’s artistic sensibilities.

Location and Accessibility

Getting There

Tourists inside Sainte chapelle in Paris ile

Sainte-Chapelle is on the Île de la Cité, a natural island on the Seine River in central Paris.

If you’re already planning on seeing Notre Dame, this is on the same island, making it an easy addition to your itinerary.

The best part is it’s easy to reach, since there’s lots of transit options nearby:

Metro: The closest metro station is Cité on line 4. You’ll emerge just a short walk away from the chapel’s entrance.

Bus: Several bus lines, including 21, 27, 38, 85, and 96, serve the area. Bus stops are conveniently located nearby.

On Foot: If you’re near iconic landmarks like the Notre-Dame Cathedral or the Louvre, a scenic stroll along the Seine will lead you directly to Île de la Cité.

Due to the challenging parking situation on the island, it is advisable to opt for public transportation.

Nearby Attractions

Conciergerie in Paris Ile de Cite

When planning your visit Sainte-Chapelle, you must set aside some time to explore the nearby attractions within walking distance:

  • Notre-Dame Cathedral: Just a stone’s throw away, this world-famous cathedral is a must-see. Obviously, it’s still under construction after the infamous fire, but it’s so worth checking out, regardless.
  • Conciergerie: Right next to Sainte-Chapelle, holds centuries of history as a former royal palace and prison. Marie Antoinette was held here until her execution.
  • Louvre: Across the Seine to the north, you’ll find the Louvre, another former palace, and an iconic treasure trove of art and culture.
  • Palais de Justice: Just next to the chapel, this imposing complex of judicial buildings that was also previously a palace. It’s one of the oldest surviving buildings in Paris, even though its suffered several fires and was partly rebuilt in the late 1800s.

If you’re interested in seeing all of these, I highly suggest signing up for Walks Tours’ Île de la Cité walking tour. They stop by most of these spots, and talk about the history of all of them.

I was so blown away by their tour last October when I went. It’s hands down my favorite historical walking tour that I’ve done in Paris.

If you want to check out the tour, the link is below, and you can also virtually check it out on my YouTube channel.

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Cultural Impact

Visiting Sainte chapelle in paris

This absolutely stunning chapel is an outstanding example of the Rayonnant period of Gothic architecture.

If you are scratching your head about what the Rayonnant period of Gothic architecture is, keep reading for a quick rundown.

Basically, it’s a period of French Gothic architectural style characterized by thinning vertical support beams, larger windows, and more elaborate decorative elements.

This was a popular design style between roughly 1240-1350.

This unique style set a precedent for the use of light and intricate structural designs amongst architects.

Ever since its construction, Sainte-Chapelle continues to inspire artists, historians, and visitors with its blend of art, history, and spirituality.

I didn’t think this place would ever live up to all the hype surrounding its beauty, but it absolutely took my breath away!

Getting to see it as part of a historical tour, hearing amazing stories and facts about Sainte-Chapelle, it’s impossible not to connect with this pivotal era in French and European culture.

Modern-Day Contributions

Restoration Efforts

Rose Window inside Sainte Chapelle in Paris, France

A jewel of Gothic architecture, it’s amazing to stand inside imagining all the history that’s taken place.

Sainte-Chapelle was one of the first targets of French Revolutionaries in 1789, so it’s no surprise it’s needed restoring over the years.

It’s undergone several restoration phases to preserve its intricate stained-glass windows and ornate stonework, ensuring its splendor endures for future generations to and marvel at.

Two-thirds of its stained glass windows are still original, with the rest replaced as seamlessly as possible.

Between 1840 and 1868, they worked on restoring the chapel to its most authentic appearance.

Today, there’s still a focus on preserving its historical value for future generations.

Visitor Information

entrance to Sainte Chapelle in Paris

If you know you want to see Sainte Chapelle, I highly suggest you book tickets ahead of time.

Or, ideally, book a tour that includes a visit and a guide so that you get to learn all about the magnificent history of the chapel.

Below are the most recent opening times from the chapel’s official website.

From April 1st to September 30th
9am – 7pm

October 1st to March 31
9am – 5pm

Last access to the monument, 30 minutes before closing time. Honestly, I’d recommend giving yourself more than just 30 minutes inside to marvel at the beauty.

Priority access is given only to visitors with a ticket and time slot reservation.

Visitors who get free access, or who have a Passion Monument/Paris Musée card, absolutely must reserve a time slot free of charge on the online ticketing service.

The chapel is always closed on January 1, May 1 and December 25.

Also note, that because of the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, the Sainte-Chapelle will be also be closed on July 26th this year.

Guided Tours

Ceiling and Stained glass inside Sainte Chapelle in Paris

One of my favorite things about my visit to Sainte Chapelle was getting to listen to our tour guide passionately speak about the history and architecture as we all got to soak in the beauty of this iconic spot.

There are a lot of different tour options available, so depending on the vibe you want, you can do an audio tour or sign up for an actual tour group.

I was lucky enough to get invited on Walks Tours’ Île de la Cité historical walking tour, which included a stop here and cannot rave about it enough.

While on your tour, you’ll hear lots of tales, both historical and religious, including learning about the following.

  • Historical Significance: Insights into the reign of King Louis IX and medieval Paris.
  • Artistic Value: An understanding of Gothic architecture and the significance of stained glass in storytelling.
  • Religious Importance: The role of relics in the Christian faith and their influence on the Sainte-Chapelle.

If you’re looking for a fun, educational, and interactive tour group, you’ll love this one.

Just check out my link below to book your tour today!

Walks Tours

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If you click this link and make a purchase, I earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Plans and Conservation

Restoration Projects

chair in sainte chapelle paris

The French Ministry of Culture monitors restoration work to make sure the historical significance of the chapel continues to be honored.

Here’s a general timeline of the major work that has been completed over the years.

  • 1980s: Major restoration to address structural and aesthetic deterioration.
  • 2008-2015: Further restoration to clean facade statues and merge stained glass.

Ongoing Care

  • Routine Maintenance: Regular maintenance works to prevents damage by environmental factors.
  • Climate Control: This is crucial in preserving fragile interior elements, including the iconic stained glass.

Knowing the care taken to preserve their vivid storytelling heightens your appreciation of Sainte-Chapelle’s stained glass windows, statues, and architecture.


Sainte Chapelle Chapel in Paris 1

What are some interesting facts about Sainte-Chapelle?

Sainte-Chapelle is renowned for its 15 magnificent stained glass windows, depicting over 1,100 scenes from the Bible.

According to our tour guide, the original stained glass makers used wine, urine, or vinegar to help apply the pigment to the glass.

What is the historical significance of Sainte-Chapelle?

Sainte-Chapelle, built in the 13th century, was dreamt up to house precious Christian relics, including Christ’s crown of thorns.

What is the cost of admission to Sainte-Chapelle?

Admission prices vary, but generally, visitors need to pay a fee to enter this historic chapel, which contributes to its preservation.

Is there a best time or suggested duration for visiting Sainte-Chapelle?

The best time to visit Sainte-Chapelle is during morning hours, for softer light through the stained glass. You’ll want to spend at least an hour to fully appreciate its beauty.

Are there any days when admission to Sainte-Chapelle is free?

Admission to Sainte-Chapelle is free on the first Sunday of each month, from November to March.

So, it’s a perfect opportunity for budget-conscious travelers to glimpse this gorgeous jewel box of a chapel.

Final Thoughts


I hope this guide to Sainte Chapelle has you excited to visit this iconic jewel box while in Paris.

Let me know in the comments below what your most looking forward to checking out on your next trip!


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