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Chapelle Expiatoire Paris: remembering Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette

La Chapelle Expiatoire Paris (the Expiatory Chapel) is one of those hidden gems which blends, history, art and architecture and offers a quiet oasis not far from the busy Grands Boulevards. Built on the location of an ancient cemetery (le Cimitière de la Madeleine) which received hundreds of corpses during the revolutionary days, the chapel was indeed constructed at the exact point where King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were buried after their execution in 1793.

In 1814 France restored the monarchy with Louis XVIII. It was King Louis XVIII, Louis XVI’s brother, who ordered to move the rests of the royal couple to Basilique de Saint Denis and built this chapel to honor their memory. Designed by the architect Fontaine (1816-1826), the Chapelle Expiatoire’s main purpose was to ask for pardon on behalf of France.

Related:  Basilique de Saint Denis - best tips to enjoy the Most Beautiful Church in Paris

 

THE CHAPEL’S ARCHITECTURE

Fontaine designed a chapel in a Neo-classical style, taking some elements from Roman and Greek antiquity, Middle Ages and Renaissance. The decoration is very minimalist, reminding us that this chapel is a memory place.

Inside the chapel we can find the statues of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Louis XVI is ascending to Heaven with the help of an angel. The pedestal is engraved with the King’s testament, written before his execution. We especially liked the sculpture called “Marie Antoinette soutenue par la Religion” (Queen Marie Antoinette hold by Religion) designed by Jean Pierre Cortot in 1835. Queen Marie Antoinette, downhearted, asks Religion for help and Religion shows her the cross. Religiona veiled woman, has the traits of Elisabeth, the king’s sister. Elisabeth, who also passed through the guillotine in 1794, received a last letter from the queen just few hours before Marie Antoinette death.

The altar in the crypt marks the exact location of the king’s body exhumation.

 

THE SWISS GUARDS’ TOMBS

We access to this nostalgic place through an alley flanked by some tombs. These tombs are just symbolic, they remind us of the Swiss Guards, the soldiers who died at the king’s service in 1792.  On this green space in front of the chapel we can also find different kind of trees symbolizing the different social classes, all victims of the Revolution.

Chapelle Expiatoire Paris

 

CHAPELLE EXPIATOIRE PARIS – PRACTICAL INFO 

La Chapelle Expiatoire is in Paris 8. 29 Rue Pasquier, Paris 75008; M. Saint Agustin, L9; Vélib Station #8016

Open from Tuesday to Saturday

Tickets : Full price 6€. Free admission for people under 18, people from 18-25 (citizens of the 27 countries of the European Union and non-European residents regularly resident in France) and during speial occasions like Les Journées du Patrimoine (usually end of September).

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31 Comments

  • Reply
    Johna
    05/04/2017 at 5:19 am

    Stunning! I was actually in Paris this time last year. Missing it a lot. Too bad we didn’t have enough time to visit this place. Looks so interesting!

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      05/10/2017 at 4:55 pm

      That means you will have to come back again 😉

  • Reply
    Joanna
    05/02/2017 at 4:41 pm

    It’s amazing how Paris has so many beautiful and interesting places to visit. The architecture of the chapelle is so pretty and from your photos I can see that it’s not a touristy place and you can enjoy it in peace.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      05/10/2017 at 4:57 pm

      It is a very calm and peaceful place. It is hidden in the middle of a garden so you see it only if you know about it

  • Reply
    MICHAEL SORIANO
    05/02/2017 at 12:24 pm

    The architectural design of the place is really fascinating and the story behind is really worth reading.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      05/06/2017 at 8:27 pm

      I agree with you Michael. I particularly like the sculpture of M A and her sister in law (and the story behind)

  • Reply
    Fábio inácio
    05/02/2017 at 11:23 am

    I love your posts and hate at the same time ahaha, it just make me realize that when I was in Paris I miss so many awesome things but also make me want to go there again, and I will next monthhh 😀 😀 😀
    I love minimalist places and the architecture so I am sure that I will not miss this Chapell now in May!

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      05/06/2017 at 8:27 pm

      Oh cool! Don’t forget to tell us about your Parisian adventures on our FB page 😉

  • Reply
    Claire
    05/01/2017 at 10:49 am

    I love the architecture here. I’m in Paris soon so I might have to check this out.

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      05/06/2017 at 8:28 pm

      The Paris bucket list is growing for you Claire . . lol

  • Reply
    Emily
    12/07/2016 at 11:38 am

    Fascinating. I’d love to visit this chapelle and learn a bit more of its history. La prochaine fois…

  • Reply
    sher
    08/02/2016 at 6:32 pm

    gorgeous shots! i loved reading about all the history behind the church as well.

    Sher
    http://www.shershegoes.com

  • Reply
    Claire
    08/02/2016 at 11:19 am

    Oooh I’ve never heard of this! Looks great, thanks for drawing some emphasis on a hidden gem

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      08/08/2016 at 11:32 am

      thanks Claire!

  • Reply
    Karla at GlobalETA
    08/01/2016 at 6:14 pm

    I really like historical travel and this looks very interesting! Thanks for sharing your experiences!

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      08/01/2016 at 7:51 pm

      Thanks to you Karla for dropping by 🙂

  • Reply
    travelling chingrita
    08/01/2016 at 5:48 pm

    fascinating! i love that you were able to enjoy the rich history and culture of this lovely chapelle. pictures are incredible as well. what was your most favourite fact on this tour?

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      08/01/2016 at 7:53 pm

      It is a very small chapel so the visit was short. It was during the Journées du Patrimoine and there were long queues everywhere but it seemed nobody knew about this chapel

  • Reply
    Victoria
    08/01/2016 at 1:19 pm

    “Marie Antoinette soutenue par la Religion” is beautiful sculpture <3

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      08/01/2016 at 1:26 pm

      Agree! Thanks for your comment 🙂

  • Reply
    Castaway with Crystal
    08/01/2016 at 1:03 pm

    What a great history lesson! Awesome photos too. Thanks for this post 🙂

    Crystal recently posted… Trash the Dress: Medieval Edition

  • Reply
    Alex Datsev
    07/31/2016 at 8:46 pm

    How interesting! Love discovering less-known historical sites like this…

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      08/01/2016 at 1:26 pm

      Thanks Alex 🙂

  • Reply
    Paul
    07/31/2016 at 7:03 pm

    So much history in this place, I would love to visit here one day!

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      08/01/2016 at 1:27 pm

      Think about us if you decide to come 😉

  • Reply
    Rebecca
    07/31/2016 at 6:43 pm

    What a beautiful place with such rich history. Love the photos!

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      08/01/2016 at 1:27 pm

      Thanks Rebecca 🙂

  • Reply
    Carmel jansen
    07/30/2016 at 11:23 pm

    Such history, these are beautiful photos, such detail in the construction

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      07/31/2016 at 12:05 pm

      Thanks Carmel! It is a small but beautiful chapel 🙂

  • Reply
    Norbert
    07/30/2016 at 3:24 pm

    nice! Ilove the pictures

    • Reply
      WorldInParis
      07/31/2016 at 12:05 pm

      Thanks N! I hope you also loved the chapel’s history behind 😉

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