We visited La Sainte-Chapelle twice during our stay in Paris last Spring. The first time was to admire the magnificent stained glass windows, two-thirds of which date back to the mid-13th century. Then we came back a few days later to attend an evening concert of popular classical music featuring a soprano vocalist, a cello and three violins.
La Sainte-Chapelle was built by King Louis IX (also known as Saint Louis) on his palace grounds (now the Palace of Justice) in the 13th century. It was originally built to house the Crown of Thorns and a piece of the Holy Cross and other relics that are now stored in Notre Dame Cathedral a couple of blocks away.
The Gothic architecture of La Sainte-Chapelle reminded us of the Aachen Cathedral, also known as Charlemagne’s Chapel, which we visited in 2012. The octagonal choir of that Cathedral also features tall stained glass windows and was built about a hundred years after La Sainte-Chapelle (see here for my posting on the Aachen Cathedral).
Before we traveled to France we went online and booked our tickets for the concert at classictic.com. Several of the great churches in Paris offer evening concerts and there are also special organ concerts throughout the year. Most of the Sunday concerts are free. We attended one at Saint-Sulpice that was basically a half-hour organ demonstration after the noontime Mass. There is usually a fee for other types of concerts, however, and tickets for these can be purchased at classictic.com.
Take a look at the variety of music offered at classictic for several different churches in Paris. We chose a Wednesday evening concert at Sainte-Chapelle that featured Les Violons de France and the soprano soloist Cécile Besnard. Frédéric Moreau is the founder, conductor and lead violinist of the orchestra and he was superb! The violin music we heard that night included Adagio by Albinoni, Une Petite Musique de Nuit by Mozart, and Le Canon by Pachelbel. Ms Besnard sang both Schubert’s and Gounod’s Ave Maria as well as Allélula by Mozart. See here for a youtube sample of her singing (with a different version of Les Violones de France and at a different church — La Madeleine).
La Sainte-Chapelle is located at 8, boulevard du Palais on the Ile de la Cité in the first arrondissement near Pont Saint-Michel and Place Saint-Michel. It’s also just a couple of blocks west of Notre Dame. The stained glass windows and the acoustics will just blow you away!