Cathedrals in France – I’ve got 8 suggestions for what to see after you’ve seen Notre-Dame de Paris or in case you can’t see the grand cathedral in Paris. When we all heard that Notre-Dame de Paris was on fire, we assumed the worst. And, of course, we were heart-broken that there was a possibility of losing such a magnificent cathedral with such a long history.
However, the good news is that Notre-Dame will recover! Not only that, there are many other beautiful cathedrals in France as well as churches to explore.
Northern France is considered the birth-place of the Gothic Cathedrals so there are plenty of choices. Do as I did and make a bucket-list to visit them all!
My Favorite Cathedrals Close to Paris
These cathedrals in France are less than 2 hours away from Paris by train. As they are all my favorite, I’ve listed them in alphabetical order These are some of the most impressive Gothic cathedrals outside of Paris.
You can buy train tickets before you go at trainline.eu. Just print at home and show to the conductor. I’ve listed the approximate journey time by train after each cathedral.
Amiens Cathedral [1 hr 36 min]
Amiens is considered the largest cathedral in France. Although it lacks the magnificent stained glass of some of the other cathedrals due to a tragic fire, the statuary both inside and out tells of its rich history. It has a massive labyrinth located at the crossing of the transept and nave. Read more…
Choir Screen Detail View
Angers Cathedral of Saint Maurice [1 hr 42 min]
The tapestries both here and in the Château (which is in walking distance) are some of my favorites. Angers was dedicated in 1025 and is romanesque in style. However it does have a Gothic style altar that was inspired by Bernini’s altar in St Peter’s in Rome. Read more….
St-Maurice Cathedral Tapestry
Beauvais Cathedral [1 hr 17 min]
Cathèdral de Saint Pierre de Beauvais is truly just a piece of a cathedral as part of the choir section collapsed as a result of resonating vibrations caused by high winds in 1284. The money that was to be used to build the nave was used to restore the choir so the cathedral was never actually finished. That said, it is still definitely worth the visit!! Along with Chartres, Notre Dame de Paris, Amiens, Reims, Rouen, Beauvais is listed as one of France’s finest Gothic cathedrals. Read more….
Chartres Cathedral [1 hr 15 min]
France lays claim to over 80 cathedrals constructed between 1050 and 1350, including Chartres. In addition to the 80 cathedrals, the construction of 500 large churches and several thousand smaller churches took place at the same time. Only Chartres Cathedral survived in its thirteenth century form. The blue in its stained glass is one of its “calling cards”. Read more…..
Chartres Cathedral Stained Glass
Metz [1hr 24min]
One of my favorite things about this cathedral is the stained glass. Those by Marc Chagall are breathtaking. The cathedral is constructed with a yellow-beige limestone from France named Pierre de Jaumont (stone of Jaumont). Read more…
Stained glass windows by Chagall
Reims Cathedral [45 min]
The site on which Reims Cathedral, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims, is built dates back to the 496.A.D. In this basilica, Clovis was crowned King of France by the bishop of Reims, Saint-Remi , who is buried in the present day cathedral. Each king of France was subsequently crowned in the basilica with Charles X being the last to be crowned in 1825. Read more…
L’Ange qui sourire: Reims famous smiling angel
Rouen Cathedral [1 hr 12 min]
Monet captured Rouen Cathedral on canvas in a series of 28 paintings! Each painting shows the facade at a different time of day. The Cathédrale de Notre-Dame is the tallest cathedral in France and has not 1, not 2, but three towers! Read more…
Rouen Cathedral Spires
My Favorite in France Beyond the Paris Area
Vichy Saint-Blaise [2 hr 53 min]
Vichy St Blaise is actually two churches. In 1931, Notre-Dame des Malades was constructed against Eglise St-Blaise which had grown too small. Eglise St-Blaise dates from the late 1600s. But it is the frescoes in Notre-Dame des Malades that I find absolutely captivating. The blue colors in Vichy St-Blaise are almost as captivating as the blues found in Chartres. Read more….
Bonus! My Favorite Churches in Paris
These are a “bonus” addition to this post! Since Notre-Dame de Paris is the seat of the Bishop in Paris, these churches are just that, churches, not cathedrals. However, besides the 8 cathedrals I’m listing below, these churches are quite beautiful and if you do not have the opportunity to travel beyond Paris then I believe these churches are a must see.
Located at 2 Place du Louvre, this church dates from the 15th century. When the Louvre was still a royal palace, Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois was the royal parish church. Charles V of the House of Valois turned the fortress of the Louvre into a royal residence during the 1300s. Allow plenty of time to view all the stained glass windows! Read more…
A glimpse of the choir from the side ambulatory
Located on Place Saint-Sulpice in the 6th arrondissement, this church is full of fascinating thing to examine – from the Fontaine de Quatre Evêques in front of the church to the inscription over the door with its connection to the Revolution to the obelisk and gnomon inside which, with apparently no access to the sun, can determine the equinox. It’s hard to know where to begin! Read more….
Church of Saint-Sulpice
Saint-Eustache, located close to the Louvre and the Palais Royale, was known as the Parochial and Royal church from the 17th century up until the Revolution. The magnificence of the architecture, stained glass, sculpture work and wall paintings is almost overwhelming. Read more…
If you’ve visited these three churches in Paris, look at this list for more choices.. These three just happen to be my favorites.