Everyone is familiar with the “big name” churches in Paris: Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, Sainte-Chapelle, Saint-Sulpice and so on. And I definitely encourage visitors to the City of Light to check out as many as possible.
But beyond making specific trips to these gorgeous, well-known houses of worships, a terrific way to get a feel for Paris, its history and the role of the Catholic Church in Parisian life over the centuries is to simply wander the streets and visit the City of Light’s lesser-known neighborhood churches.
One of my favorite discoveries is Notre Dame des Blancs-Manteax in the Marais.
A bit of history: There’s been a religious presence on this site for more than 850 years, dating back to a friary founded in 1258. In fact, the white habits (called blancs manteaux) worn by those friars to honor the Virgin Mary led to the name of this church, built in 1685, and to the street on which it is located.
Visitors to the church, definitely check out the gorgeous stained-glass windows as well as the massive pipe organ, one of the largest in Paris. If you’d like to hear the organ being played, attend a Sunday mass or check out flyers posted in the vestibule that advertise upcoming organ concerts that are open to the public.
Notre Dame des Blancs-Manteaux is located at 12 Rue des Blancs-Manteaux about two blocks west of Rue Vieille du Temple (Metro: Rambuteau). The church is open to the public daily from 10 a.m. to noon and 3-7 p.m.