TOWER OF SAINT JACQUES … TOUR SAINT-JACQUES …IN PARIS … OPEN FOR VISITS …

    If you are to visit Paris this summer you will see a high stone edifice in a small park in the very centre of the city. You will think there ought to be some more of it – it ought to be part of something – yet it will stand there all alone: […]

 

Tour Saint-Jacques

Tour Saint-Jacques

 

If you are to visit Paris this summer you will see a high stone edifice in a small park in the very centre of the city.

You will think there ought to be some more of it – it ought to be part of something – yet it will stand there all alone: 54 metres high (171 ft).

It’s quite beautiful and you will want to take photos of it from all angles.

It is the Tower of Saint Jacques – the tour Saint-Jacques – some five centuries old.

And indeed once it was part of the Church of Saint James of the Butchery – Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie – named for the butchers of the wholesale market of Les Halles which was close by. (You my think that the French for the name ‘James’ is ‘Jean’, but no, it is Jacques.)

Les Halles market

Les Halles market

Les Halles market too no longer exists: traffic snarl-ups had in 1971 compelled the city authorities to move the market outside Paris to a town named Rungis. Many a bistro and restaurant owner had valiantly fought against the market moving, and indeed so had Paris’s pimps and prostitutes because the district – quartier – was where the girls plied their trade. Where you around in 1963? If so you will recall the Hollywood movie Irma la Douce with Jack Lemmon and Shirley Maclaine.(If you have an opportunity to watch it on television one night late, do so, because it is delightful.)

The church with its tower was constructed from 1509 to 1523 when the King of France was Francis 1 (1494-1547) – François 1ere. You will come across him in many places in and around Paris: and I even sat on his bed in the Château de Rambouillet , outside Paris. (No, he was absent!)

However, in 1793, the French Revolution raging, the State bought the church from the Catholic Church planning to demolish it, which was then done, but the Church had made a condition, it would only sell the building to the State if the tower was to remain standing.

The church and the tower

The church and the tower

And the tower had remained standing, and just as had happened when the church was there, pilgrims continued to see off from the tower for Santiago de Compostela. On foot of course.

In 1836 the City of Paris bought the tower from the State and in 1862 it was declared an Historic Monument – Monument Historique.

In 1998 it was UNESCO’s turn to declare the tower a World Heritage Site.

A €8.4 million ($11.5 million / £6.7 million) renovation of the tower which had become almost black with centuries of grime and dust was then begun. For most of the time from 1998 to 2009, when the renovation was finished, the tower had been covered in white sheeting.

If you find the tower beautiful, and I know you will, you can visit it, and what is more you can climb up to the top: climb its 300 steps up to the top.

You can do so from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on any Friday, Saturday and Sunday until Sunday, September 28.

It will cost you €8 ($11 / £7).

From the top you will have a splendid 360-degree view of Paris because you will be at a height of 16 floors of a Paris building.

However, if you suffer from claustrophobia or from your heart or lungs, or from a fear of heights, or you are a little corpulent you better not attempt to go up there because the width of the stairwell is just 23 inches (60 cm).

Have I climbed up there?

I’ve seen Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, Sacre Coeur, the Grande Arche of La Defense, the tower of the Chateau of Vincennes … and the Montparnasse Tower. And not just once for each but many times. I think that will do for now.

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

2 Responses to “TOWER OF SAINT JACQUES … TOUR SAINT-JACQUES …IN PARIS … OPEN FOR VISITS …”

  1. 2
    Marilyn Z. Tomlins Says:

    I also never climbed it …

  2. 1
    Sara Says:

    Oh, thanks for the info. I had always assumed that it had been destroyed during the revolution (assuming it was the revolutionaries who did the destroying). I never climbed, but it was a handy landmark for me.

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