logo monuments of parisparis museums logoparis park logorestaurants in paris logoparis pubs and bars logologo paris bar and publogo paris hotel and hostel

Église du Val-de-Grâce in Paris

The story of the Église du Val-de-Grâce began in 1621, when Louis XIII gave his authorization for a Benedictine abbey to be built in Paris. It was supposed to replace the one in Bièvres, a city located 15 km from the capital, which was subject to extreme humidity and dryness.

The nuns who lived in the "maison du petit Bourbon" (house of the little Bourbon) waited until 1624 for the first stone of their new covent to be set on a ground near the hotel they were staying in.

Église du Val-de-Grâce Paris historical paintingVal-de-Grâce church Paris guidebook

Queen Ann of Austria (1601-1666), who had been barren for years, frequently stayed there and made a vow to God to erect a beautiful church if He gave her a son. Louis XIV was born in 1638.

The queen became a regent after Richelieu and Louis XIII died, so she decided to make her promise a reality.

On April 1st 1645, the king, who was 6 years-old at the time, settled the first symbolic stone of the Val-de-Grâce church.

dome of the Val-de-Grâce church Pariséglise du Val-de-Grâce in Paris gravure

Several architects worked on the project of the Église du Val-de-Grâce, so the construction took some time. The most famous are François Mansart, who designed the Château de Blois, Lemercier (Palais Royal du Louvre and the Église de la Sorbonne), and Le Muet (Hôtel d’Avaux), assisted by young Gabriel Le Duc (Basilique Notre Dame des Victoires).

The dome was finalized in 1663. It was painted by Pierre Mignard (1612-1695), famous for decorating the Château de Versailles, and having two paintings at the Louvre. The dome’s proportions were modelled after Rome’s Saint Peter basilica.

The inner and outer sculptures were by Philippe de Buyster, who sculpted "Le poème satyrique" in the Versailles gardens, and by the brothers Anguier, authors of the sculptures at the Porte Saint Denis.

fresco in the Val-de-Grâce church Parisinside of the Val-de-Grâce church Paris

In 1669, the latin-cross-shaped church was finally built, 24 years after construction began. It was consecrated 40 years later, in 1710.

In 1790, the abbey was closed because of the French revolution. It was saved from destruction as a work of architecture.

In 1793, the Convention issued a decree which made the monumental building a military hospital.

église Val-de-Grâce Paris sculpturesnativity Val-de-Grâce church in Paris

The canopy, designed by Gabriel Le Duc, and the Nativity sculpture by Michel Anguier, on the altar of the church definitely make this place unique.

Still present even after the church became a hospital, the Nativity group is actually a copy of the original one in Église Saint-Roch (1st arrondissement in Paris), which was ordered by Napoléon III.

Today, the Val-de-Grâce is still a military hospital. Since 1979, the actual hospital is located where the benedict nun’s kitchen garden used to be.

Open: Tue-Sat (2pm-6pm),
Sun (9am-12pm; 2pm-6pm).
Exceptional Opening:: Jan. 1st, Easter, Easter Monday, Ascension Day, May 8th, Pentecost, Pentecost Monday, July 14th, August 15th, Nov 1st, Nov 11th, Dec 25th.

Rates: Free entrance.

How to get there: 1 place Alphonse Laveran 75005 Paris.
Métro line 7 "Censier - Daubenton",
RER B Station "Port Royal",
Buses lines: 21, 27, 83 and 91.

paris cinema logologo paris shoppinglogo paris activitieslogo paris visit and transportsports in paris logologo paris entertainmentcontact us logo