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The 800th Anniversary of Saint Eustache in Paris

Published on , by Marie-Laure Castelnau

Saint Eustache, a masterpiece of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, is celebrating its 800th anniversary. The church in the historic Les Halles area of Paris has always taken pride in welcoming art, old and new.

The nave with the great organs and new furniture designed by Constance Guisset.©...  The 800th Anniversary of Saint Eustache in Paris

The nave with the great organs and new furniture designed by Constance Guisset.
© Vincent Leroux, DA Constance Guisset Studio

Placidas is said to have been baptized under the name Eustathios, which means “well-balanced” or “consistent”. The Catholic and Orthodox churches now know him as Saint Eustace of Rome or Mâcon, his presumed hometown. The massive church named after him stands "like a sentinel of the Invisible" in the heart of the city close to where Les Halles, the central food market that Emile Zola called the "Belly of Paris”, used to be. Saint Eustache had close ties to the area and the guilds of the people who worked there. But in February 1969, when the market moved to Rungis, the teeming life linked to its bustling activity was suddenly drained out of the neighborhood. Perhaps the only good thing that came out of losing Les Halles is that the demolition of Baltard’s market in 1972 opened up amazing vistas of the church, which has never looked so beautiful and now stands in front of a free space. Saint Eustache soars heavenward, light and imposing, with its tall transept, high-perched windows and long nave. In his 1868 book October Nights, Gérard de Nerval described it as “This admirable edifice […] with its Gothic frame, multiple rows of flying buttresses like the ribs of a gigantic whale and Roman arched doors and windows, whose ornaments seem to belong to the ogival style.”   Anonymous, Saint Joseph chapel , The Assumption of the Virgin, 17th century, detail. “Notre Dame’s Daughter” This year the church, which looks more like a cathedral, celebrates its 800th anniversary. In keeping with its musical and artistic tradition, Saint Eustache is holding theater events, concerts and lectures to…
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