The Watch

Churches of Saint Merri and Notre-Dame-de-Lorette

Paris, France

2014 World Monuments Watch

The Church of Saint Merri was built in the late flamboyant Gothic style during the first half of the sixteenth century, just as Renaissance taste was taking hold in Paris. The church is very similar in plan to Notre-Dame Cathedral, with an elongated choir, and the traditional design features such as elaborate window tracery and ribbed vaulting. The Church of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette was built between 1823 and 1836 by Louis-Hippolyte Lebas (1782–1867), who won the design competition for the building. The neoclassical design is typical of the period in which it was conceived, and was inspired by the plans of ancient Christian basilicas. The sober exterior is dominated by a monumental entrance portico surmounted by a pediment with sculpted figures of Faith, Hope, and Charity. Inside, rich painted decoration covers every interior surface, which shocked Parisians with its extravagance when the church first opened. The care of these structures is under the stewardship of the City of Paris, but like many of these significant but lesser-known churches, they do not have adequate maintenance and conservation resources. The churches were included on the 2014 World Monuments Watch in order to raise awareness about the plight of these smaller jewels, which are so integral to the historic urban landscape of Paris.

Since the Watch

In the spring of 2015, WMF collaborated with the City of Paris and the “association pour la sauvegarde de Notre-Dame-de-Lorette” to carry out diagnostic and structural surveys, from which the subsequent restoration of the Baptistery Chapel occurred. Funded by a 2014 grant from American Express, the restoration began in the fall of 2015 and was completed in 2017.

Since inclusion on the Watch, some of the lesser-known places of worship have been brought to the public's attention. In April 2015 the City of Paris announced the allocation of €80 million for the restoration of the city’s religious buildings, and much work has been carried out to improve the conditions of these parish buildings.

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