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Visiting La Madeleine Church, Paris: Classical lines and a strong musical tradition

Updated on February 11, 2015
Flag of France
Flag of France | Source
Church of La Madeleine, Paris
Church of La Madeleine, Paris | Source
A grand wedding at La Madeleine, Paris. Illustrated 'Le Figaro', March 1900.
A grand wedding at La Madeleine, Paris. Illustrated 'Le Figaro', March 1900. | Source
Map location of Paris, France
Map location of Paris, France | Source

Splendour exhibited in a number of ways

A prominent example of church architecture in Paris, France is to be found at La Madeleine church (French: église de La Madeleine ), in rue Royale , close to the place de la Concorde , from which it is strikingly visible. The church is situated in the 8th arrondissement .

Some history

A Medieval synagoque stood on the current church site. While there were pre-Revolutionary plans for a church on this site, Napoleon I commissioned architect Pierre-Alexandre Vignon (1763-1828) to build a church based on a Roman temple in Nîmes. Completion of the church was delayed, and was finally inaugurated in 1842, the death of Vignon having caused his replacement by Jacques-Marie Huvé (1783-1852). The resulting Neoclassical building, with 52 imposing, Corinthian columns, became a major landmark in the city. It has large, bronze doors with relief references to the Ten Commandments.

La Madeleine church became established as a sought-after venue for society weddings.

Oddly, in the early 19th century there were proposals, which did not come to fruition, to create a railroad station out of the building. (In any case, it would doubtless have made a splendid terminus for trains.)

Musical associations

La Madeleine church has distinguished musical traditions and associations. Official organists at the church have included composers Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921), who served in that capacity from 1858 to 1877, and Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924), who was organist at the church from 1896 to 1905. Fauré's Requiem notably had its world première at La Madeleine in 1888. Mozart's Requiem was played at the funeral of Chopin at La Madeleine in 1849. Jeanne Demessieux (1921-1968), who committed to memory the complete organ works of J S Bach, was organist at La Madeleine from 1962 to 1968.

It remains a distinguished venue for concerts.

Also worth seeing

The visitor attractions of Paris , France are so outstandingly numerous that they would be too difficult to summarize adequately here; but a few of these include: the Bourbon Palace, near the place de la Concorde; the Champs Elysées; the Arc de Triomphe; the Eiffel Tower; Notre Dame Cathedral; the Louvre; the Sacré-Cœur church at Montmartre.

Reims (distance: 144 kilometres) has a striking Cathedral associated with the Kings of France and a Gallo-Roman, triumphal arch.


How to get there: United Airlines flies from New York Newark to Paris (Aéroport Paris-Charles de Gaulle ), from where car rental is available; but visitors to Paris may wish to use the city's excellent public transport system. The Métro (subway) stop for La Madeleine church is Madeleine . Please be advised that some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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    • MJFenn profile image

      MJFenn 6 years ago

      Trish_M: Especially when viewed from Place de la Concorde, la Madeleine is hard to miss! Thank-you for your comment.

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 6 years ago from The English Midlands

      Hi :)

      Very enlightening.

      I have been to La Madeleine, and have read quite a bit of French history, but this was new information to me.

      I found this a very enjoyable hub.