Alright, folks, let’s dive into the fascinating world of Tour Saint-Jacques and its lively neighbor, Square de la Tour Saint Jacques.
Brace yourself for a rollercoaster ride through history and panoramic views that’ll knock your socks off!
Tour Saint-Jacques and Its Backstory
Imagine a lone wolf, standing tall amidst the lush greens and shady trees of Square de la Tour Saint-Jacques. That’s right, we’re talking about Tour Saint-Jacques!
It’s the only surviving relic of the Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie church, which used to be the talk of the town in Paris.
The Tower That Touches the Sky
Hold onto your hats because this tower isn’t your run-of-the-mill structure, my friends. It soars to a majestic height of 62 meters, crowned by a splendid statue of St. James at its base. And that’s not all; the view from its terrace will leave you breathless! You’ll find this treasure right in the heart of Châtelet, nestled in the 4th arrondissement of Paris.
Unveiling the History of Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie
Now, let’s delve into the juicy details. Back in the 12th century, the Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie church was built in the vibrant neighborhood of Grande Boucherie. Why the fancy name, you ask? Well, it was to set it apart from its counterpart, Saint-Jacques-du-Haut-Pas, which was kicking it on the Left Bank.
Fast forward to 1406, and King Charles VI decided to give a nod to the butchers by letting them host their guild shindig in the chapel. As time passed, the church expanded, particularly in the 16th century, giving birth to the Tour Saint-Jacques we know today.
The Bell Tower’s Magnificence
This isn’t just any bell tower; it’s the real deal, constructed during the reign of King François I between 1509 and 1523. Architects Jean de Felin, Julien Ménart, and Jean de Revier gave it that flamboyant Gothic flair. It stands tall at 54 meters, graced by statues representing the four Apostles – a lion for Mark, a bull for Luke, an eagle for John, and an angel for Matthew. The showstopper, of course, is St. James himself.
Legend has it that the Paris Butchers’ Guild, thriving at Les Halles market, generously funded this tower. That’s why you’ll find flamboyant features like statues, crockets, and niches.
Surviving the Sands of Time
Fast forward once more to the French Revolution. It rolled into town, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. However, the bell tower emerged unscathed. In 1824, an enterprising individual bought it to turn into an ammunition plant. Luckily, the City of Paris swooped in to rescue the tower in 1836. They gave it a massive makeover, adding over 20 statues, including some intriguing gargoyles.
During the revolution, the original St. James statue met its untimely demise. But fear not! Sculptor Paul Chenillon stepped up to create a worthy replacement. As a result, the first ‘square’ in Paris was born right under the Tour Saint-Jacques. For the uninitiated, a ‘square’ is a quaint urban hangout complete with a public garden. The Square de la Tour Saint Jacques made its grand debut in 1856.
A National Treasure
In 1862, Tour Saint-Jacques earned its rightful place on the French National Heritage Site list. Since 1891, it’s been home to a meteorological laboratory.
But wait, there’s more! From 2005 to 2013, the tower underwent a jaw-dropping 8.3 million euro restoration, leaving it looking more splendid than ever.
A Panoramic Delight
Here’s the icing on the cake: You can actually climb this beauty via a 300-step spiral staircase. It’s a bit of a workout, but trust us, the view from up there is out of this world. You can spot everything from Notre-Dame to the Pompidou Centre and from the Eiffel Tower to the Arc de Triomphe.
How to Join the Adventure
Ready to conquer this iconic tower? Head online and book your spot. Tickets cost 12 euros for adults and 10 euros for those who know how to pull some strings for a concession. A word of caution – this climb isn’t for the young’uns under ten. It’s a bit of a challenge, so make sure you’re in tip-top shape and free from dizziness or claustrophobia.
When to Embark on Your Journey
Mark your calendars from June 10th to November 13th, 2022. You’ve got every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm to conquer the Tour Saint-Jacques.
Now, it’s your turn to embark on this epic adventure and savor the magic of Paris from the top!