Louis the Beloved was the successor of the Roi Soleil, AKA Louis XIV, aged just five years old. And despite a nickname of the ‘well-beloved’, his many failures more than contributed to the eventual French Revolution. All said and done, Louis XV still ordered the construction of many monuments and churches during a fifty-year-plus reign, including that of Eglise Saint-Philippe-du-Roule.
History of Eglise Saint-Philippe-du-Roule
Somewhere between Musée-Jacquemart André, the Jardins des Champs-Élysées, and a metro station of the same name (Saint-Philippe-du-Roule), the Church of Saint-Philippe-du-Roule cuts a striking image on the façade of the street and is built in the Neo-Classical style.
The current church was constructed at the behest of Louis XV on the site of a former chapel which was in such poor repair, that it had to be demolished. Originally much smaller in size, the previous chapel was dedicated to Saint Jacques and Saint Philippe.
Former church via Wikimedia
The King wanted to create a place of worship in the very heart of the 8th arrondissement so as to give back to the community. However, what is less spoken of, is that the original plot of land which Louis XV gifted was actually unsuitable for building a church owing to its shaky foundations. Instead, the land was used as a cemetery.
For the next couple of decades, the project was abandoned. That was, until 1764 when inhabitants of the area wrote to the king once more, asking for a plot of land whereby they would be able to build a church. And so, in the following decade, actual building works were finally undertaken.
Works lasted from 1772 until 1784 and were overseen by architect, Jean-François Chalgrin. At the time, Chalgrin was well-known for his Neo-Classical designs. In fact, you may well be familiar with his works. After all, he designed the iconic Arc de Triomphe!
How to visit Eglise Saint-Philippe-du-Roule
Since 1933, the church has been listed as a designated historic monument. For those who wish to see the beautiful frescoed and carved interior of the ecclesiastical building, a visit inside is an absolute must. Be sure to take your time to truly marvel at the stunning stained glass and vast domed ceiling.
Reminiscent of Roman temples, the church’s interior is equally as impressive and features plenty of stained glass, some of which was even designed by acclaimed painter, Émile Hirsch. Free to visit, the opening hours of the church remain pretty complicated and can be found on the Paroisse St Philippe du Roule’s website.
Things to do in the 8th-arrondissement
The eighth district of the city is easily one of the best areas to get a feel for Haussmannian architecture, traditional French food, and experience many of the iconic attractions that the French capital has to offer. Home to the likes of the Arc de Triomphe and the Avenue des Champs Elysees, here are some of the best things to do in the 8th arrondissement:
Stroll around Parc Monceau: Filled with 18th-century follies and meandering streams, this is the perfect spot to chill out, read a book, or enjoy a picnic among friends. Commissioned by the Duke of Orleans, this green space is a real slice of history, wrapped up in a picture-perfect oasis of calm in the centre of the city.
Visit the Musée Jacquemart André: Once you’ve seen the Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre, where do you go? Well, while there’s no denying that Paris is one vast living, breathing museum, there are plenty of ‘proper’ house museums dotted around the city. And one of the most lavish of them all is that of Jacquemart André, complete with ornate French furniture and Italian Renaissance paintings.