Tour Saint-Jacques Tower in Paris
The Saint-Jacques Tower is classified as an historical monument in Paris, yet is all that remains of a flamboyant Gothic church that was constructed in the 1500s for pilgrims on route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
A bit of history
You will find the Tour Saint-Jacques Tower stands in a small garden in Paris called the Parc de la Tour Saint-Jacques, that is close to the Les Halles area, and this was originally constructed in a flamboyant Gothic style between the years of 1509 and 1523, which was during the reign of King Francis I and it was dedicated to Saint James the Great.
Fortunately, the tower was saved from destruction, because in the 1700s a vestige and sanctuary was built around the tower named the Eglise Saint-Jacques de la Boucherie, which translates to the Saint James of the Butchery church, which was in relation to the wealth of the butchers and its patrons from the nearby Les Halles area and its market.
The Eglise Saint-Jacques de la Boucherie was designed as a sanctuary for pilgrims and the departure point of the Via Toronensis or Tours Way route from France to Saint-Jacques-de Compostelle, or spelt the Spanish way, Santiago de Compostella, which is in Spain.
But this particular church in Paris was destroyed shortly after the French Revolution, yet the Tour Saint-Jacques Tower was saved from this fate yet again, by means of a contract that stated the tower must be preserved, even though the church was purchased for its building materials.
The Tour Saint-Jacques Tower was eventually repurchased by the City of Paris and in the 1860s it was classified as one of the historical monuments in Paris, plus it was during this century that a statue of the saint was installed on the tower, along with a small meteorological station that was installed in 1891, which is now run by Observatoire de Montsouris.
About the Tour Saint-Jacques
The Tour Saint-Jacques stand approximately 52 metres high with its rich decoration in a flamboyant Gothic style and is situated within the small park in Paris called the Parc de la Tour Saint-Jacques, which is located along the famous Rue de Rivoli that was named after a victory of Napoleon Bonaparte against Austria at the Battle of Rivoli.
When the Rue de Rivoli was being constructed, to maintain the elevation of the tower, it now sits on a pedestal. And at the base of the Saint-Jacques tower there is a statue of Blaise Pascal who was a physicist, and this commemorates the experiments on gravity and atmospheric pressure that he reconstructed after those in Puy de Dome within the Auvergne region of France.
On the corners of the tower these have statues that are symbols of the four evangelists, which are the lion for Saint Mark, the bull for Saint Luke, the eagle for Saint John and the man for Saint James. And it is on the north west corner that the statue of Saint Jacques le Majeur dominates the platform where the meteorological station is installed.
These statues, along with the gargoyles and the eighteen different statues that depict saints, which adorn the walls of the Tour Saint-Jacques, were all restored last century, plus through the original pilgrimage origins, it was classified within the UNESCO world heritage sites in the 1980s.
This then followed by another major restoration project of the Saint-Jacques Tower and the surrounding Parc de la Saint-Jacques, which eventually re-opened to the public in 2009.
So, this is yet another of those national historical landmarks in Paris that you can discover, when you are wandering around this fabulous city full of history.
Access to the Tour Saint-Jacques
This tower in Paris is located in the 1st Arrondissement of Paris along the Rue de Rivoli at the Parc de la Tour Saint-Jacques, which is only open on specific days including at a weekend and on heritage days.
So even if it is not open you can still admire this historical monument, which can be accessed via the Rue de Rivoli, the Avenue Victoria, the Boulevard de Sebastopol and the Rue Saint-Martin.
You will find It situated close to the Hotel de Ville in one direction and the Palais Royal or the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel in the opposite direction, or, you have the River Seine along with the Ile de la Cite and the Notre Dame Cathedral in another and the Pompidou Centre in the opposite direction to this. Therefore, it is in an ideal location for exploring some of the famous tourist attractions in Paris, not forgetting the elegant boutiques and chic cafes around the area.
Prior booking is required in order to be able to access the inside of the Tour Saint-Jacques and as of 2018 this is a cost of €10, however, we would like to point out that children under the age of 10 are not permitted inside and only 5 people can access the tower at any one time.
Also, due to the fact that you have to negotiate a spiral staircase with approximately 300 steps, it is not suitable for the disabled and not recommended for those who are pregnant, have heart conditions, weak knees or walking problems, sight or hearing problems, vertigo because of the height and claustrophobia due to the small confined space.
Now when it comes to getting here via public transport in Paris, in an easterly direction you have the Metro station called the Hotel de Ville stop serving lines 1 and 11, yet in a westerly direction you have Metro stop called Chatelet servings lines 1, 4, 7, 11 and 14.
Alternatively, the Bus Lines 21, 38, 47, 58, 67, 69, 70, 72, 74, 75, 76, 81, 85 and 96 along with the Noctilien Night Bus Service via Lines, N11, N12, N13, N14, N15, N16, N21, N22, N24, N122 and N144 will also get you within walking distance of the Tour Saint-Jacques Tower.
However, the lines 38, 47, 70, N11, N12, N13, N15, N16, N24, N122 and N144 all stop right by the small park itself, rather than any of the streets nearby, plus there are Velib stations for the self service bike hire scheme within walking distance as is one of the docks for the Batobus, water bus on the River Seine.