Built in spectacular High Gothic style by French King Louis "The Pious" IX to house his collection of sacred Crucifixion relics including Christ's Crown of Thorns, Sainte Chapelle was completed in 1248 on Île de la Cité (one of the two small Seine River islands) in a former royal palace-fortress, Palais de la Cité, until recently home to the Palais de Justice.
When you visit Sainte Chapelle, you'll enter on the ground floor, pass through a lovely first floor chapel once used by palace staff and now sharing space with a bookshop/souvenir stand, and walk up 33 well-worn stone steps enclosed by a narrow circular stairwell.
At the top, take a deep breath - you're about to emerge into a dazzling stained glass kaleidoscope sparkling like a million multi-faceted jewels framed by narrow 50-foot stone columns. Overhead, a vaulted dark-blue ceiling studded with golden stars seems to float in the light-filled space.
On closer inspection, you can see many different scenes - 1,113 in all - in the 15 stained glass windows. Most depict Biblical scenes from the Old and New Testaments - if you want to "read" them in chronological order, go left to right, bottom to top. At the chapel's west end, a magnificent rose window composed of 86 stained glass panels shows the Apocalypse of Saint John. But when you reach the last window on the right end of the south wall, look closely and you'll see something different: scenes of King Louis IX bringing the Crown of Thorns and other relics back to Paris.
Although the brilliant colored glass steals the show, don't miss the chapel's other rich ornamentation: lavish gilding, lushly painted medieval frescoes, countless carvings, and magnificent statues of the 12 Apostles standing in the alcoves.
Superb acoustics, along with the chapel's magnificent beauty, also make Saint Chapelle a popular place for hearing baroque and classical music evening candlelight concerts - an experience you should not miss!
Top photo: Sainte-Chapelle stained glass panels
How to Visit Sainte Chapelle: Tours & Concerts
What's the best way to experience Sainte Chapelle?
You have two excellent options:explore on your own or with a guide during the day, or enjoy a memorable candlelight concert of classic or baroque music during the evening. Even better, do both!
If you visit during the day, remember that as a top Paris attraction, Sainte Chapelle attracts numerous visitors throughout much of the year. You can save time when you book a skip-the-line ticket or tour online in advance.
If you want to attend one of the evening candlelight concerts at Sainte Chapelle, book early. This is the city's most popular historic concert venue and tickets frequently sell out, especially during May-September and for special event concerts on Christmas Eve, Mother's Day, etc.
Sainte Chapelle Entry Tickets
Skip the Line Tickets
This basic Sainte Chapelle entrance ticket through Get Your Guide lets you walk right past the ticket line and gives you priority entry access to the security check line and entrance. You'll be given a complimentary brochure that tells you exactly what to look for in each window. If you're visiting with your family, lease note that free admission is available for all visitors under 18 (photo ID required) and EU/EEA visitors 18-25 (photo ID required).
Other options for skip-the-line entry: If you plan to visit other Paris museums and monuments, the Paris Museum Pass can save you a lot of money. Not only does provide it give you free entry to Sainte Chapelle, but you can also use it for skip-the-line admission to 60+ other Paris attractions such as the Louvre, Versailles, and Arc de Triomphe. Choose a 2, 4, or 6 day pass.
Paris Pass Lib' is a similar option - but in addition to free skip-the-line access to 60+ attractions including Sainte Chapelle, you also get a hop on/hop off Big Bus sightseeing tour, a Seine River cruise, and free travel on the Paris public transportation system while your pass is valid.
Combo Skip-the-Line Tickets to Sainte Chapelle + Conciergerie
Save money when you get a combo skip-the-line ticket giving you entrance to both Sainte Chapelle and the Conciergerie, the famous medieval prison where Marie Antoinette awaited her fate at the guillotine during the French Revolution.
There are plenty of other options for exploring Sainte Chapelle and nearby Île de la Cité attractions available as well - you can check them out here.
Sainte Chapelle Concert Schedules & Tickets
For a memorable experience as well as the chance to see by this beautiful medieval venue by candlelight, attend a classical music concert on Saint Chapelle's second floor chapel, surrounded by the sumptuous stained glass.
Concerts usually take place 2-3 times each week. You can see the complete Sainte-Chapelle concert schedule and get your tickets here. To maintain the intimate feel of this unique space, most concerts seat only 200 - so don't wait to get your tickets, as availability is often limited. Tickets are provided through ClassicTic, Sainte-Chapelle's official ticket partner.
Open: Daily - Monday through Sunday Closed: January 1, May 1, December 25
Schedule: October 1 - March 31: 9am - 5pm
April 1 - September 30: 9am - 7pm
Last admission is 30 minutes before closing
Location: 8 Boulevard du Palais, 1st arrondissement. Sainte-Chapelle is located on the Île de la Cité near Notre Dame and the Conciergerie. GPS Coordinates: Latitude - 48.8554; Longitude: 2.3450 Metro: Line 4, Cité station Bus: Lines 21, 27, 38, 85, 96 and Balabus (Notre Dame or Hotel de Ville stop) Batobus: (Notre Dame or Hotel de Ville stop) - Get Batobus hop on hop off river cruise tickets
Know Before You Go
Due to security considerations, the maximum allowed bag size is 40 x 40 x 20 cm (7.9 x 7.9 x 15.7 inches). No onsite storage facilities are available for bags of this size or larger.
Sainte Chapelle is not wheelchair accessible. Also, if you have mobility or balance issues, be aware that there are no hand rails on most of the circular staircase from the ground floor to the second floor chapel containing the magnificent stained glass windows.
More about Sainte Chapelle - Interesting Facts
Although Sainte Chapelle measures only 118 feet long x 56 feet wide, the ceiling reaches 139 feet high.
The Crown of Thorns and Louis IX's other religious relics became scattered during the French Revolution. Most of them were recovered, and now reside at Notre Dame Cathedral. Even though Louis IX paid a small fortune for them - more than three times the cost of building Sainte-Chapelle - their authenticity has never been confirmed.
Pope Boniface VIII canonized Louis IX as a saint in 1297, the only French king awarded this distinction. Île Saint-Louis, the small island in the Seine River next to Île de la Cité where Sainte-Chapelle is located, is named after him (as is Saint Louis, Missouri, along with many other places around the world).
The king ordered the best stained glass craftsmen from the recently-completed Chartres Cathedral to create Sainte Chapelle's windows, and if you visit both places, you can see similarities: brilliant colors surpassing the simplicity of the windows' designs.
Although Sainte Chapelle sustained heavy damage during the French Revolution and required extensive renovation, much of the stained glass escaped destruction. About two-thirds of what you see today is original, dating back to the 13th century and making it the oldest surviving stained glass in Paris.
To protect the priceless treasures from destruction by the Nazis during World War II, workers removed and carefully labeled every piece of glass prior to the German invasion, and then replaced them after the war.
Sainte Chapelle's 275-foot spire dates back only to 1853. The chapel's previous four spires burned down.
A 7-year project to clean and restore Sainte Chapelle's stained glass completed a few years ago, leaving the windows more sparkling and beautiful than ever.
The Rose Window is most brilliant right before sunset as almost-horizontal streams of light shine through the glass.
As a French cultural site, Sainte Chapelle offers free admission for all visitors under 18 (photo ID required) and EU/EEA visitors 18-25 (photo ID required).
Where to Stay near Sainte Chapelle
Staying near Sainte Chapelle and Île de la Cité puts you in a wonderful location for exploring the many historic attractions, beautiful parks, and excellent bistros and restaurants in this central part of Paris. Here are several excellent choices within a 5-minute walk:
Hotel Britannique - Romantic boutique hotel on the Right Bank across from Île de la Cité and Sainte Chapelle Book best deals
Relais Hôtel du Vieux Paris - Charming 4-star boutique hotel in a historic 15th century building in the Latin Quarter - just a quick walk across the Pont Saint-Michel bridge to Sainte Chapelle Book discount deals
Hôtel Europe Saint Séverin Paris - Small Latin Quarter hotel close to Sainte Chapelle, Notre Dame, and the Pantheon; request a room with a balcony! Find best rates
Two nearby bistros on Boulevard du Palais (the same street where Sainte Chapelle is located) are popular choices, especially if you want a relatively quick bite or just a drink: Les Deux Palais, almost directly across the street, and Paris en Scène, on the corner across from the Right Bank.
If you have more time, walk around the corner and follow the road along the river to Place Dauphine (1 block away - see the map below). You'll see 8-10 small restaurants and cafes lining the square. Check the posted menus to find what you like - all are good.
Place Dauphine is one of those quiet, hidden spots in Paris known to locals but usually not discovered by visitors. Enjoy the small shops and eateries.
More Places to Explore near Sainte Chapelle
To explore the rest of this ancient area behind Sainte Chapelle, continue walking west (ie, away from Sainte Chapelle).
You'll see a magnificent statue of King Henry IV on horseback, and below that, a lovely park called Square de Vert Galant at the very tip of Île de la Cité.
Walk down the stairs (they're easy to spot) to Square de Vert Galant, and find a spot on the grass or a nearby bench to relax for a bit after your Sainte Chapelle tour and watch all the sightseeing boats as they cruise down the Seine River.