Built in the sixteenth century, Saint-Etienne displays a strikingly specific style, unseen elsewhere in Paris, first noticeable in its façade. It is indeed a transition period between the flamboyant gothic style and the Renaissance style inspired by Greek-Roman antiques.
The overall structure is that of a “hall church”, 69 meter long and 25.5 meter wide : the transept does not protrude outwards, the aisles are very high.
The church is slanting leftwards, probably due to the ground’s shape, but the shifts are barely visible.
Inside the building, one can observe the progression in style : on an initial gothic plan, the decoration evolves from pointed arches in the choir to round arches in the nave with a pervasive Renaissance ornamentation. An elegant gallery runs around the church. The keystone summarizes this blending of influences.
Built between 1610 and 1622, the façade is the most noteworthy outdoor feature : a harmonious ensemble in which a Renaissance décor, unique in Paris if not in France, combines itself with a high three-level structure typical of the Middle Ages. At the ground level, the doorway is reminiscent of a Greek temple ; the structure is topped by a high gothic pinnacle.
This façade was restored in the nineteenth century by architect Victor Baltard who rebuilt the statues destroyed during the French Revolution.
It is crowned by a high bell-tower.
The church was completed by the chapel of the Virgin, at the end along the central axis, built in 1653 in Classical style. Flanking the apse, a three-sided cloister built between 1605 and 1609 enclosed a small cemetery.
Beyond the apse, a lovely “hotel particulier” (town house) was built by Louis d’Orléans, the Regent’s son, who dwelt there. It is currently the parish presbytry.
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