One of the city’s prettiest churches, this gem is a joyous mix of late Gothic and Renaissance styles. The 17th-century facade combines Gothic tradition with a dash of classical Rome; inside, the 16th-century chancel sports a magnificent rood screen (an intricately carved partition separating the nave from the chancel) with decorations inspired by the Italian Renaissance. Bookended by twin spiraling marble staircases, this rood screen is the only one left in the city. The entire church has been cleaned, making it easy to appreciate its riches, which include 16th- and 17th-century stained glass. A pilgrimage site, the church was once part of an abbey dedicated to St-Geneviève (Paris’s patron saint), and stones from her original sarcophagus lie in an ornate shrine here. That’s about all that is left of her—the saint’s bones were burned during the Revolution, and her ashes were thrown in the Seine. The remains of two other great minds, Racine and Pascal, are buried here.
- Anna Brooke