Header Image


Navigation images

The 300 steps of Tour St Jacques

For a very long time, the Tour St Jacques (i.e. St James’ Tower) had been under scaffolds for restoration works. It wasn’t until shortly before my move to Paris that it emerged cleaned and repaired to the eyes of the public. However, access to the tower itself remained elusive. No more. Between 5 July and 15 September this summer, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, visitors can ascend this former bell tower to the church of St-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie via some 300 spiral stairs to the open summit, but only if you are quick enough to book a spot among the 136 per day.

Dedicated to St James, the detroyed church and its tower form part of the landmarks on the French pilgrimage route of El Camino de Santiago. This tower that measures about 12m by 12m in base dimension and attains 62m in height (including that of the statue of St James on its pedestal) is the sole structure within the heart of Paris where a complete 360° panoramic view is on offer. A summer day blighted by heatwave may be unappealing as a day to work those gluts and go all the way up, but the effort is richly rewarded.

Tour St Jacques

Tour St Jacques

Tour St Jacques

Tour St Jacques

Tour St Jacques

Tour St Jacques

Tour St Jacques

Tour St Jacques

Tour St Jacques

Tour St Jacques

Tour St Jacques

Tour St Jacques

Tour St Jacques

Tour St Jacques

Tour St Jacques

Tour St Jacques

Tour St Jacques

Tour St Jacques

Tour St Jacques

Tour St Jacques

The view from up here is truly spectacular. The tower of the Notre Dame cathedral nearby may be a tad higher, but it is at Tour St Jacques that we saw everything surrounding us. I’ve basically put together the shots above in an order they would be seen if one is panning for the complete 360° view, starting from the direction of Montmartre. ;)

We were accompanied by guides who recounted, in French, the history of this flamboyant Gothic tower: it was built together with a church by the wealthy butchers from the nearby then Les Halles market; its rise and fall – its status as part of St James’ Way and subsequent demolition of the church during the French Revolution; its alternative roles – as scientific/meteorological laboratory and as a lead bullet manufacturing plant; its links to famous personalities – including Nicolas Flamel, Blaise Pascal; and many more little details.

The tour itself lasts about 45 minutes, to include about 20 minutes at the summit to photograph the city and/or take in the view. Tours run daily, on the hour, from 10am to 5pm. A group of only 17 visitors may be accommodated at each time slot. Reservation can only be done for the same day, from 9.30am, until all slots are filled. Standard ticket costs €6 whereas concession price is €3. What are you waiting for??



Category: Event, Paris

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , ,

8 scribbles & notes

  1. m3d says:

    from the rooftop photos…many parts seems quite packed eh…tightly ‘squeezed’ city?

    • Lil says:

      Paris is a very compact city (105 km²; vs KL 243 km² / London 1,570 km² / NYC 1,213 km²). For a major capital of the world, you can walk north to south within city boundary in 2 hours, and east to west in about 3 hours.

      Then, consider how much treasures there are in Paris. It is a rather amazing feat!

  2. Janice says:

    Awesome views! It’s on my list of things to do but I’ll wait until this heatwave episode is over. I’ve had my dose of climbing and descending of stairs and hills for now. Just got back from a hot week in the French Riviera and Monaco :).

    • Lil says:

      I know exactly how you feel! I had lots of walking done while in Greece too and in pretty much similar temperature as the heatwave right now. The only difference was, there was at least some sea breeze in Greece, and it was relatively easy to find a spot to take a cooling dip before continuing further.

      Must meet for coffee/lunch/park visit sometime soon ;)

  3. Janice says:

    Meet-up sounds great. We are off to Brittany next week for about 2 weeks. Will get in touch with you when I get back :).

    • Lil says:

      Cool! Enjoy your fortnight in Brittany (I’ll be checking out Morbihan next week where a friend’s wedding is taking place) and see you when you’re back in Paris :)

  4. Mary Kay says:

    Wow! The view from the top is spectacular. I’ll definitely have to try to get one of the tickets to climb to the top before it closes in September. I’m going to share the link for your blog on my blog’s FB page so that others can enjoy the view. Thanks!

    • Lil says:

      Definitely grab a spot when possible – probably best not to leave it till last minute either because if queueing lesson in Paris is anything to go by, last days of exhibitions etc usually means extra demand!

      And thanks for sharing the link out :)

Scribble a note to Janice × Cancel reply


Notify me!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Most read today