Last Updated on 11th February 2017 by Sophie Nadeau
If you give yourself one rule when you visit Paris, then make it this: always take a peek behind the unclosed doors you pass. The city is full of magical spots, just waiting to be discovered. Each time you discover one, it feels like you’re the first person in decades to have stumbled upon a well-kept secret. One such secret is the Cloitre des Billettes and Church…
Situated on the ancient Rue des Archives at number 24, in the very heart of the prestigious le Marais area of Paris, the Lutheran church is a throwback to a bygone era. A couple of months ago, my boyfriend and I decided to check out a wine tasting in the 4e arrondissement (as you do, it was a Saturday!) On our way, we stumbled upon a little sign saying ‘Open Gallery, Free Entry’. Like I said, never pass up the opportunity to peek behind a Parisian door! I’m so glad we chose to go inside because what greeted us next was the remainder of the last medieval cloisters in Paris…
Cloitre des Billettes: A Step Back in Time
There has been a church and cloisters on the site since as early as 1294 as it was the apparent location of a miracle. The pope himself authorized the site as religious grounds and a chapel was in place by the end of 1295. By the end of the following decade, the church had become the place, King Phillippe IV ordered religious services from and donations started pouring in from all over the nation.
With their new found wealth, the monks decided to expand, rebuilding the church and adding the cloisters which are still around today. The building as we see it, therefore, dates all the way back to 1427. The cloisters are named after the brothers, the order of Billettes who were later renamed ‘Carmelites’. Although the church started out as catholic, Napoleon ordered the church to be converted into a Lutheran one in 1808. He recognized the cultural and historical importance of the site and decided it should house his own branch of Christianity.
Today, the cloisters are used as a quirky art gallery. Entrance is free and upon arrival, you can expect to see all manner of artwork. But if you do choose to visit this special location, just remember to look up and look around at your surroundings. I mean, it’s not every day you get to step into medieval France, is it?