Which one is better? Notre Dame vs Sainte Chapelle

By Aashima

Paris is home to several stunning historical monuments that dazzle you with magnificence and glamor. 

It holds several historical sites of interest for visitors. However, the Notre Dame Cathedral and Sainte Chapelle stand out distinctively. 

Even though both sites have historical significance, they carry an element of distinction, making them among the top tourist attractions in Paris. 

While the massive size and intricate architecture contribute to the grand persona of Notre Dame Cathedral, the stunning stained glass windows add to the beauty of Sainte Chapelle. 

Because of such distinctions in their personalities, visitors often wonder if Notre Dame is better than Sainte Chapelle or if it’s the other way around. 

Well, Notre Dame and Sainte Chapelle’s Gothic Architecture are both charming and hold historic significance in their own right. 

Although both are cathedrals, keep reading this article to know what makes Sainte Chapelle different from Notre Dame.

Comparison Between Sainte Chapelle And Notre Dame

To settle the debate between Notre Dame Cathedral and Sainte Chapelle, we researched the most prominent features of both cathedrals. 

Notre Dame symbolized Paris’s economic, political, and cultural power as the city rose as the hub of power. 

On the other hand, Sainte-Chapelle’s history says it was home to King Louis’ collection of holy relics.

This included the Crown of Thorns, the Holy Lance, and a fragment of the True Cross. 

However, it was later transferred to Notre Dame Cathedral.

Cathedral Notre Dame’s History goes back to the 12th century, when its cornerstone was laid in 1163 by King Louis VII and Pope Alexander III.

While Sainte Chapelle’s construction began sometime after 1238, under the reign of King Louis IX.

Both cathedrals share the same Gothic architectural styles and dominate in their respective areas of craftsmanship. 

Construction of Notre Dame

Construction of Notre Dame
Image: Time.com

The Cathedral of Notre Dame took 300 years to complete, and it has undergone several renovations, destructions, and restorations throughout the centuries. 

The long building history of Notre Dame Cathedral tells about the additions and modifications throughout the centuries. 

The cathedral’s choir was renovated in the 18th century by removing a 13th-century spire.

Other works include reconstructing the arch bay and renovating the roof’s frame and drainage. 

Also, a gallery of 100 statues on the façade and the restoration of the southern rose window underwent modifications and replacements in the 19th century. 

In the 2019 fire, the spire, a large part of the roof, and various glass windows were severely damaged.

However, the firefighters and locals saved historical relics and artifacts. 

The restoration work is going on, and officials have announced the reopening date of the cathedral at the end of 2024. 

Learn about its restoration process in detail by clicking on this link.

Construction of Sainte Chapelle 

The construction of Sainte Chapelle took only six years to complete. However, Sainte Chapelle has also undergone some restoration work during its lifetime. 

The Chapelle was in the crosshairs during the French Revolution. 

Most furniture, stalls, roof screens, and regalia were damaged during the revolution.

Sainte Chapelle underwent massive restoration work in the 19th century and again in 2008. 

The latest technologies have helped preserve the beauty of stained glass windows, which are always ready to mesmerize you with a brilliant light show.

Architectural Features of Notre Dame vs Sainte Chapelle

Notre Dame Cathedral and Sainte-Chapelle are two famous Gothic cathedrals in Paris that are close to each other. 

The Cathedral of Notre Dame is more prominent and famous, but Sainte-Chapelle is considered to have more beautiful architecture.

Let’s learn in detail about the architectural features of Notre Dame Cathedral and the Sainte Chapelle.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
Image: Anastasia Collection (Canva)

Notre Dame is characterized by its massive size, two towers, and flying buttresses. 

The interior is spacious and has a wide nave, rib vaults, and high columns. 

Its 10 bells are located in the south tower, and the largest one, Emmanuel, is tolled at most historical events. 

The three rose windows on the west facade are the only ones that still have their original glass from the 13th century.

Sainte-Chapelle in Paris

Sainte-Chapelle in Paris
Image: RicoK69 from Getty Images (Canva)

Sainte-Chapelle is smaller than Notre Dame, but its stained glass windows are considered some of the world’s most beautiful. 

The upper chapel is filled with 15 stained glass windows that depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments. 

Its windows are so large and intricate that they bathe the entire chapel in a kaleidoscope of color. 

The Sainte Chapelle architecture details of the lower chapel are also decorated with stained glass windows removed after a flood in 1690.

Both cathedrals have undergone significant modifications over the centuries, including renovations, destructions, and restorations. 

However, they remain two of the most popular tourist attractions in Paris.

Visitor Experience and Accessibility: Sainte Chapelle vs Notre Dame

Regarding visitor experience, both Sainte Chapelle and Notre Dame offer unique opportunities for exploration and appreciation. 

Sainte Chapelle’s smaller size and intimate atmosphere create a more immersive experience, allowing visitors to admire the intricate details up close. 

However, its narrow staircase and limited space may pose challenges for those with mobility issues. 

With its larger size, Notre Dame offers a grander scale and the opportunity to climb to the top of its towers for breathtaking panoramic views of Paris. 

The cathedral’s accessibility has been enhanced with ramps and elevators to accommodate more visitors.

Location of Sainte Chapelle vs Notre Dame

The Gothic churches are close to each other and show visitors two contrasting aspects of the city.

Sainte Chapelle location: 10 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris, France

Cathedral of Notre Dame Location: 6 Parvis Notre-Dame, Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France

Both cathedrals sit at a distance of 900 meters on the Île de la Cité. 

You can take the metro, bus, or train to both cathedrals. 

Ticket Prices: Notre Dame vs Sainte Chapelle

Notre Dame Cathedral has been closed to the public since the fire incident in 2019, as it is undergoing restoration. 

So, tickets will be available once it reopens. 

The Notre Dame Cathedral will open in December 2024, which is the official date announced. 

You have to buy tickets to enter the Sainte Chapelle. Here are the details of the ticket prices to the Sainte Chapelle:

Visitor’s AgeTicket Price
Adult ticket (18 to 99 years)€12 
Child ( Up to 17 years) Free

Also, you can enter the cathedral for free on the first Sunday of January, February, March, November, and December.

Timing: Notre Dame and Sainte Chapelle

Notre Dame Cathedral Timings

The cathedral will reopen at the end of 2024, but here are the opening hours before the closure.

Monday to Friday8 am to 6.45 pm (no midday closure)
Saturday and Sunday8 am to 7.45 pm (no midday closure)

The new Cathedral Notre Dame opening hours will be updated as per the official announcement. 

Sainte Chapelle timings: 

From April to September 9 am to 7 pm
From 1 October to 31 March 9 am to 5 pm

Sainte Chapelle is closed on January 1, May 1, and December 25.

Best Time to See Notre Dame and Sainte Chapelle

If you are willing to know the rich history of the cathedral and its stunning architecture, visit it early in the morning when it is less crowded. 

Sunset is the best time to watch the city from the top of Notre Dame Cathedral. 

Moreover, it is also the best time for photography in Sainte Chapelle.  

The spring lasts from April to June, and the fall, from September to November, is the best time to visit the Cathedral of Notre Dame and Sainte Chapelle. 

These seasons have pleasant temperatures and fewer crowds. 

The summer months (March to May) are the busiest. 

If you do not mind the cold, winter is also an excellent time to visit both cathedrals. 

There are fewer crowds during this time, and you can explore comfortably.

If this information is not enough to make you plan for these two attractions, you can read our detailed article on the Best time to visit Sainte Chapelle.

Concerts in Sainte Chapelle or Notre Dame

Tucked away on the Île de la Cité, Sainte Chapelle provides an intimate and immersive setting for musical performances. 

It creates a compelling atmosphere that complements the beauty of the music. 

As the melodies fill the air, the light dances through the vibrant glass panels, casting a kaleidoscope of colors upon the audience.

Attending Sainte Chapelle concerts is a must if you visit this attraction. 

However, attending concerts at Notre Dame will not be possible, as Notre Dame is not currently holding any musical events due to the restoration work. 

Hence, grab this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience a concert in a historic Sainte Chapelle.

For more information, check out our detailed article on Sainte Chapelle Concerts.

Conclusion: Two Gems, One Paris

In comparing Sainte Chapelle and Notre Dame, it becomes evident that both are architectural treasures that contribute to the rich cultural heritage of Paris. 

Visitors are drawn to Sainte Chapelle’s ethereal beauty and mesmerizing stained glass windows, while Notre Dame’s grandeur and historical significance make it a city symbol. 

Each holds a particular place in the hearts of those fortunate enough to experience their magnificence. 

We can’t make a comparison between Sainte Chapelle and Notre Dame.

You can marvel at Sainte Chapelle’s jewel-like splendor or be awed by Notre Dame’s soaring heights.

Both attractions offer a glimpse into the artistic and spiritual legacy of Paris.

If you want to visit both, purchase the Paris Museum Pass and enter both attractions for free.


Is Sainte Chapelle better than Notre Dame?

It is incorrect to say that one cathedral is better than another because both sites hold importance in the history of Paris. 

They have different histories, styles, and purposes and appeal to different tastes and preferences. 

Some people may prefer the grandeur and majesty of Notre Dame, while others may admire the delicacy and elegance of Sainte-Chapelle. It is a matter of personal opinion.

However, with Notre Dame being closed for renovations until the end of 2024, it makes sense to visit the Sainte Chapelle in Paris.

What to see at Notre Dame Cathedral? 

Notre Dame Cathedral is a stunning example of Gothic architecture with towers, flying buttresses, gargoyles, and stained glass windows.

The west facade, the cathedral towers, the stained glass windows, especially the rose windows, the sanctuary, and the crypt are something to marvel at.

What to see in the Sainte-Chapelle?

The Sainte-Chapelle is known for the beauty of its immense stained-glass windows, the relic shrine, the lower chapel, and the upper chapel. 

The monument stands out for its grace and daring design, which features a high chapel with hardly any walls.

What to see in the Sainte-Chapelle?

The Sainte-Chapelle is known for the beauty of its immense stained-glass windows, the relic shrine, the lower chapel, and the upper chapel. 

The monument stands out for its grace and daring design, which features a high chapel with hardly any walls.

How much does visiting the Sainte Chapelle and Notre Dame Cathedral take? 

Allow yourself around 45 minutes to explore the grandness of Sainte Chapelle and immerse yourself in the lights of stunning stained glass windows. 

Although Notre Dame is closed now, you can visit the cathedral up close and visit the interactive exhibition near the cathedral. 

Is Sainte Chapelle and Notre Dame suitable for people with limited mobility?

In Sainte Chapelle, the lower chapel has a gentle ramp, and the upper chapel, where the main attraction is located, has a lift that can be used.

Although Notre Dame is closed because of restoration work, it will not be accessible to anyone before 2024. 

It is advisable to visit the official website to check the accessibility features once the cathedral opens in December 2024.

What is the difference between Sainte Chapelle and Notre Dame?

Sainte Chapelle and Notre Dame differ in architectural style, size, stained glass prominence, historical significance, and visitor experience. 

Both structures hold immense cultural and historical value, showcasing the magnificence of Gothic architecture and contributing to the allure of Paris as a global cultural capital.

More Articles on Sainte Chapelle

Featured Image: Sergey Novikov/serrnovik from Sergey Novikov (Canva), Lunamarina (Canva)

Aashima (1)
About the author

Aashima is an avid traveler who seeks out thrills and lives a simple, peaceful life. Bright clear skies are her calling.