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France is a country steeped in history and culture, with a rich spiritual heritage. From picturesque cathedrals and grand basilicas to ornate abbeys, every city has at least one spectacular church. But how many churches are there in France?
Whether you plan on living in France or you’re just visiting, you’ll likely come across a church. In fact, there hasn’t been a place I lived or visited that didn’t have a church. So, taking the time to learn about this aspect of France will help you adapt and understand the values of its people.
In this article, I’ll cover the number of churches in France and touch on some of the most famous places of worship that can be found within its borders.
Table of Contents
- How Many Churches Are There in France?
- How Many Churches Are in Paris, France?
- 10 Most Famous Churches in France
- What Is the Main Religion in France?
- What Percent of France Goes to Church?
How Many Churches Are There in France?
France is home to an astonishing 100,000 religious buildings. Of these, 45,000 are Catholic churches and 3000 are Protestant places of worship. There’s also a significant number of non-Christian buildings (2,200 are mosques, 500 are synagogues, and 300 are Buddhist temples). With so much faith-based architecture, it is no surprise that 15,000 of these are historic sites.
How Many Churches Are in Paris, France?
There are approximately 197 churches in Paris. These include iconic landmarks such as the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. Most of these churches are Catholic. But there are also Protestant, Orthodox, and non-denominational places of worship.
10 Most Famous Churches in France
1. Reims Cathedral
The Reims Cathedral is one of the most well-known pieces of Gothic architecture in France. Built between 1211 and 1516, this grand structure has been home to some of the most important events in history. To name but a few, it served as the coronation site for the kings of France and played a vital role in World War I. If you’re spending one day in Reims, the Reims cathedral should be at the top of your list.
2. Strasbourg’s Notre Dame Cathedral
There’s no doubt that France is home to a plethora of awe-inspiring churches, but my favorite is Strasbourg’s Notre Dame Cathedral. It stands at an incredible 142 meters (465 feet) and the bell tower can be seen even from the outskirts of the city. The exterior is made from stone that displays intricately carved Gothic sculptures. Then, of course, there are the stained-glass windows, each one is more beautiful than the last.
On the inside, there are several sculptures and various works of art. But the most impressive is the astronomical clock. From the time of day to the position of the planets, it’s a masterpiece in and of itself. If there’s one historic monument you have to add to your Strasbourg itinerary, this is it!
Book your guided tour of Strasbourg’s Notre Dame Cathedral by clicking here.
3. Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris
One of the most well-known churches in France is Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral. Construction began in the 12th century and continued through the 14th century. One look at this Gothic masterpiece and you’ll see why it took so long to build. Not only that but it has played a vital role in the history of France. It’s even where the coronation of Napoleon I took place!
In 2019, a fire destroyed the spire of the church, and it has since been closed to the public. Plans are in place for it to reopen in 2024, so for now you’ll have to admire this grand cathedral from a distance.
4. Notre Dame Cathedral of Dijon
Dijon is home to several churches, but none compare to its Notre Dame Cathedral. In fact, when I spent one day in Dijon this was my first stop! This Gothic cathedral was built during the 13th century and was classified as a historic monument in 1840. Some of its most impressive elements include its five original stained-glass windows and the 51 stone gargoyles that line the front of the church.
5. Mont Sainte Odile
Surrounded by the Vosges mountains overlooking the towns in Alsace is Mont Sainte Odile. It once served as an important pilgrimage site and convent. Today, you can follow the steps of the pilgrims and trek to the church or visit as part of a tour.
From its terrace, at a whopping 767 meters (2516 feet) in elevation, you’ll be treated to some of the best views over the region. And on a clear day, you can even see the spire of Strasbourg’s Notre Dame Cathedral!
6. Chartres Cathedral
Chartres Cathedral is touted as one of the most beautiful churches in France. So much so that in 1979, it earned UNESCO World Heritage Site status. In fact, it represents the high point of Gothic Art.
It was built between 1194 and 1220 with several prominent features. The most stunning include the 13th-century stained-glass windows and the gigantic labyrinth. So, whether you’re an art enthusiast or looking for something unique, Chartres Cathedral is worth a visit.
The best way to visit the Chartres Cathedral is on a day trip from Paris with this tour.
7. Sacré-Cœur Basilica
The Sacré-Cœur Basilica is one of Paris’ most prominent landmarks. Located on the summit of Montmartre, this stunning white basilica stands out against the skyline. Not only that but it’s also been a symbol of faith for more than 100 years. With its Romano-Byzantine style architecture and elegant interior décor, it’s no surprise that people flock to visit this beautiful place of worship. If you’re visiting Paris this summer, I recommend watching the sunset from the terrace in front of the church. It’s the best spot in the city. Then, you can explore Montmartre at night!
Click here to book a guided tour of the beautiful Sacré-Cœur Basilica.
8. Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste
The Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste sits on the banks of the Saône in the middle of Vieux Lyon. It’s a unique mix of Gothic and Romanesque style architecture that dates to the 12th century. Of course, that’s not all. Its astronomical clock rivals that of Strasbourg’s Notre Dame Cathedral. If you want to see the church in all its glory, wake up early and watch the sun’s rays light up the church. It’s one of the best things to add to your Lyon itinerary.
9. Amiens Cathedral
Amiens Cathedral is one of the largest Gothic cathedrals from the 1200s. In fact, it’s the largest in France at 200,000 cubic meters (7 million cubic feet)! That means two of Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedrals can fit inside this UNESCO World Heritage Site. And for something so big you’d think it took hundreds of years to build, but it only took half a century. An astonishing feat, to say the least! Some of its most notable features include the two bell towers, the high gothic rose window on the western side, and the gigantic organ.
You can book a self-guided audio tour of Dijon by clicking here.
10. Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière
The Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière is one of the most iconic churches in Lyon. Located on top of a hill overlooking the city, this stunning basilica has been standing since 1872. It’s a combination of Byzantine architecture and Romanesque artistry that will leave you in awe. But that’s not even the best part. The intricate mosaics that line the ceiling are truly something to behold. Marvel at its exterior, tour the inside, and take in the views from the terrace. You’ll stop by for a few minutes but find yourself spending an hour. So, make sure to create space in your Lyon or eastern France itinerary for this work of art.
To book the best tour of the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière, click here.
What Is the Main Religion in France?
The main religion in France is Christianity, with Catholicism as the largest denomination. But there are also sizable Protestant, Muslim, and Jewish populations.
What Percent of France Goes to Church?
According to a 2020 survey, approximately six percent of people in France go to church. This figure has been decreasing over the past few decades as fewer people abandon the Catholic church.
France has no shortage of beautiful churches. From the Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Paris to Strasbourg’s Notre Dame Cathedral, it’s an impressive collection, to say the least. It’s even one of the many reasons why I love France. And if you’re not religious, the architecture of these churches alone is something that can be enjoyed by everyone. In fact, if you take the time to explore the spiritual aspect of France, it will no doubt give you a better understanding of its people and their beliefs.
Read More Articles About France
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