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Here is the Top 10 of France’s tallest cathedrals and churches. Nine out of ten sanctuaries are found in the North of France, except for one in Bordeaux. All churches and cathedrals reach a height of more than 100 metres. The list is followed by more than 30 other buildings. In the top 47, only three churches are Protestant (all located in Alsace-Lorraine), the remaining number corresponds to Catholic sanctuaries.

Top 10 France’s tallest cathedrals and churches

Top 10 France's tallest cathedrals and churches © French Moments
Top 10 France’s tallest cathedrals and churches © French Moments

 

Let’s start the list!

Top 10 France's tallest cathedrals and churches © French Moments
Top 10 France’s tallest cathedrals and churches © French Moments

1. Notre-Dame de Rouen Cathedral (151m).

France's tallest cathedrals - Rouen cathedral (151 m) © French Moments
France’s tallest cathedrals – Rouen cathedral (151 m) © French Moments

The tower above the crossing of the transept has carried a spire of 151 m since 1876. On the western façade, the Saint-Romain Tower is 82 m and the Tour de Beurre (Butter Tower) 75 m tall.

Find out more about Rouen Cathedral.

 

2. Notre-Dame de Strasbourg Cathedral (141m).

Strasbourg cathedral © French Moments
Strasbourg cathedral © French Moments

The only spire built on the façade of the cathedral was at 142 m the world’s tallest monument from 1439 to the 19th century.

Find out more about Strasbourg Cathedral.

 

3. Notre-Dame de Chartres Cathedral (115 m).

Chartres Cathedral © Marianne Casamance - licence [CC BY-SA 3
Chartres Cathedral © Marianne Casamance – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The ‘North Tower’ or ‘Clocher Neuf’ have stood as one of France’s tallest buildings since the 16th century. The Romanesque ‘South Tower’ or ‘Clocher Vieux’ is 105 m tall.

Find out more about Chartres Cathedral.

 

4. Saint-Michel Basilica (114 m), Bordeaux.

Saint-Michel spire, Bordeaux © French Moments
Saint-Michel spire, Bordeaux © French Moments

The bell tower of the basilica was greatly renovated in 1862-1869. The spire is now the tallest religious structure in the South of France.

Find out more about the Saint-Michel Basilica in Bordeaux.

 

= 4. Sainte-Croix d’Orléans Cathedral (114 m).

Orleans Cathedral © Vincent4145 - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Orleans Cathedral © Vincent4145 – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The central spire of the crossing has been added to the sanctuary in 1512. The towers of the western façade are 88 m tall.

 

6. Notre-Dame d’Amiens Cathedral (112 m).

Amiens Cathedral © Thierry80 - licence [CC BY-SA 4
Amiens Cathedral © Thierry80 – licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The central spire of the crossing was restored in 1533. On the western façade, the North Tower is 68 m and the South Tower 61 m tall.

Find out more about Amiens Cathedral.

 

7. Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption de Clermont Cathedral, Clermont-Ferrand (108 m).

Clermont Cathedral © Fabien1309 - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Clermont Cathedral © Fabien1309 – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The black twin towers of the cathedral date back to 1884 when the western façade was restored by Viollet-le-Duc.

 

8. Saint-Joseph, Le Havre (107 m).

Le Havre © French Moments
Le Havre © French Moments

The church was designed by Auguste Perret and was completed in 1956. It overlooks the city of Le Havre.

 

= 8. Les Invalides, Paris (107 m).

The Dome church of Les Invalides © French Moments
The Dome church of Les Invalides seen from avenue de Tourville © French Moments

The highest point of Hardouin-Mansart’s chapel dome was built between 1670 and 1679.

Find out more about Les Invalides.

 

10. Notre-Dame-de-l’Immaculée-Conception Basilica, Boulogne-sur-Mer (101 m).

Boulogne Basilica © Marc Ryckaert - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Boulogne Basilica © Marc Ryckaert – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The dome and the church were built between 1827 and 1866 on the foundation of a cathedral destroyed at the Revolution.

 

My book recommendation!

Its name? Simply:

Gothic: Architecture, Sculpture, Painting by Rolf Toman, Publisher: Ullmann

My copy of the book "Gothic: Architecture, Sculpture, Painting"
My copy of the book “Gothic: Architecture, Sculpture, Painting”

This book has been for me a great resource that helped me better understand the Gothic movement in art from the 12th century to the Renaissance. An architectural style that first originated from France and spread all over Europe.

Over 500 pages it focuses on the development of Gothic architecture with many illustrations and photographs, but not only. I’ve also found interesting the in-depth discussion of the most diverse art forms, including painting, sculpture, metalwork and even book illumination! It also includes specific coverage of the Cathars’ Heresy and the Papal Palace in Avignon. And, of course, it mentions France’s tallest cathedrals!

This is definitely the book I recommend if – like me – you love everything about Gothic such as churches, gargoyles, stained glass, flying buttresses and so much more.

Order it online!

 

Top 40

11. Temple Saint-Étienne, Mulhouse (97 m).

Mulhouse Christmas Market © French Moments
Temple St Etienne, Mulhouse © French Moments

Completed in 1866, the neo-Gothic sanctuary located in the old town of Mulhouse is France’s tallest Protestant church.

 

12. Temple de Garnison, Metz (97 m).

The two Protestant churches of Metz © French Moments
The two Protestant churches of Metz © French Moments

The spire is the only part of the church built by the Germans in 1881 which was not destroyed during WW2.

 

13. Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral (96 m).

Notre-Dame Paris
Notre-Dame and square Jean-XXIII viewed from Pont de l’Archevêché © French Moments

The spire of the crossing was restored by Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century. It was destroyed by a fire in April 2019 and many hope it will be rebuilt. The twin towers of the façade are 69 m high.

Find out more about Notre-Dame Cathedral.

 

14. Saint-Étienne de Metz Cathedral (93 m).

Metz Cathedral © French Moments
Metz Cathedral from Place de Chambre © French Moments

The Mutte Tower was completed in 1481. The Chapitre Tower is 69 m high.

Find out more about Metz Cathedral.

 

= 14. Saint-Bénigne de Dijon Cathedral (93 m).

The spire of the crossing is Dijon’s tallest structure and was rebuilt in 1894.

The chevet of Dijon cathedral © French Moments
The chevet of Dijon cathedral © French Moments

 

16. Mont Saint-Michel Abbey (91 m).

Mont Saint-Michel © French Moments
Mont-Saint-Michel © M. Martin – French Moments

The statue of archangel Michael soars 170 m high above the sea level. The floor level of the abbey church is at an altitude of 79 m above sea level.

Find out more about Mont Saint-Michel.

 

= 16. Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre, Paris (91m).

Sacré-Coeur basilica © French Moments
Sacré-Coeur basilica © French Moments

The edifice stands atop the hill of Montmartre. The dome is 80 m tall and the campanile 91 m.

Find out more about the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur.

 

18. Notre-Dame de Reims Cathedral (87 m).

Reims 16 © French Moments
West front of Reims Cathedral © French Moments

The Angel Tower spire above the apse is Reims’ tallest structure. The twin towers of the western façade are 81 m tall.

Find out more about Reims Cathedral.

 

= 18. Saint-Epvre Basilica, Nancy (87 m).

Saint-Epvre Basilica, Nancy © French Moments
Saint-Epvre Basilica, Nancy © French Moments

The Gothic church was built in the old town of Nancy between 1864 and 1874 on the site of a much small sanctuary.

 

= 18. Saint-Nicolas-de-Port Basilica (87 m).

Saint-Nicolas-de-Port Basilica © French Moments
Saint-Nicolas-de-Port Basilica © French Moments

The two towers of the western façade are respectively 87 and 85 m tall.

Find out more about Saint-Nicolas-de-Port Basilica.

 

= 18. Notre-Dame de Rodez Cathedral (87 m).

Built in 1526, the bell tower is the tallest ‘flat’ tower in France.

 

= 18. Notre-Dame de l’Assomption, Marciac (87 m).

Marciac Steeple © Florent Pécassou - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Marciac Steeple © Florent Pécassou – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

A church built in the 15th century. Its bell tower is the tallest in the Gers département.

 

23. Saint-Pierre Church, Marennes (85 m).

Saint-Pierre de Sales in Marennes © Cobber17 - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
Saint-Pierre de Sales in Marennes © Cobber17 – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
The spire was added in the 19th century.

 

=23. Notre-Dame de l’Assomption de Luçon Cathedral (85 m).

The spire was added in the 19th century.

 

=23. American Cathedral Church of Paris (85 m).

The church inaugurated in 1886 was built in less than 4 years in the Gothic Revival style. The sanctuary is the gathering church for the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe.

American Cathedral Church of Paris © French Moments
American Cathedral Church of Paris © French Moments

 

26. Notre-Dame et Saint-Privat de Mende Cathedral (84 m).

The Bishop Bell Tower (Clocher de l’évêque) is seconded by the Chapter Bell Tower (Clocher du Chapitre) of 65 m high.

 

=26. Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes Basilica in Nancy (84 m).

The church was built from 1908 to 1933 in Neo-Gothic style. The spire was completed in 1929.

 

28. Saint-Salomon-et-Saint-Grégoire de Pithiviers Church (83 m).

The current spire replaces a wooden one that burnt in 1853.

 

= 28. Saint-Maclou Church, Rouen (83 m).

Saint Maclou from Cote Sainte Catherine copyright French Moments
Saint-Maclou Church © French Moments

The spire on the lantern tower at the crossing of the transept was added in the 19th century.

Find out more about Saint-Maclou church.

 

= 28. Saint-Étienne Abbey, Caen (82 m).

The Gothic twin spires were built in the 13th century atop the Romanesque towers.

 

= 28. Saint-Ouen Abbey Church, Rouen (82 m).

General View of Saint Ouen Abbey Church in Rouen copyright French Moments
General View of Saint Ouen Abbey Church in Rouen © French Moments

The lantern tower rises above the crossing of the transept. On the western façade, the twin octagonal towers and their spires are 76 m tall.

Find out more about Saint-Ouen Abbey.

 

32. Saint-André de Bordeaux Cathedral (81 m).

Bordeaux cathedral © French Moments
Bordeaux cathedral © French Moments

The spires of the twin towers of the North Transept were built in the 15th century.

Find out more about Bordeaux Cathedral.

 

33. Notre-Dame de l’Annonciation de Moulins Cathedral (81 m).

The twin towers of the façade were added to the sanctuary in the 19th century.

 

34. Trinity Abbey, Vendôme (80 m).

Vendôme abbey © French Moments
View of Vendôme Abbey from the terrace of the castle © French Moments

The old stone spire of the Romanesque bell tower is the tallest structure in the Vendômois region.

Find out more about Vendôme Abbey.

 

= 34. Sainte-Marie de Bayonne Cathedral (80 m).

The twin spires of the cathedral are amongst the tallest in the South of France. They were added to the church in the 19th century.

 

= 34. Notre-Dame de Dijon Church (80 m).

The lantern tower at the crossing of the transept was added to the existing church in the 19th century.

 

=34. Saint-Augustin Church (80 m).

Saint-Augustin Church © French Moments
Saint-Augustin Church © French Moments

Built by Baltard between 1860 and 1871 in the 8th arrondissement, Saint-Augustin was the first church in Paris designed with a metal frame.

 

37. Saint-Étienne de Sens Cathedral (78 m).

The South Tower and its little Renaissance campanile were finally completed in 1534.

 

=37. Notre-Dame du Kreisker, Saint-Pol-de-Léon (78 m).

The spire was completed in the second half of the 15th century.

 

=37. Notre-Dame de Senlis Cathedral (78 m).

The South Tower and its spire were completed circa 1240.

 

=37. Sainte-Cécile d’Albi Cathedral (78 m).

Episcopal City of Albi © Ville d'Albi
Episcopal City of Albi © Ville d’Albi

The bell tower has been built as a keep.

 

=37. Saint-Thiébaut de Thann Collegiate (78 m).

Saint-Theobald collegiate church Thann 16 copyright French Moments
Saint-Theobald collegiate church, Thann © French Moments

Its fine spire date back to the Middle Ages and is one of France’s oldest example of tracery art.

Find out more about Thann Collegiate.

 

=37. Notre-Dame de l’Annonciation de Nancy Cathedral (78 m).

Nancy Cathedral © French Moments
Nancy Cathedral © French Moments

The twin bell towers of the Classical cathedral are only the second tallest behind the basilica of Saint-Epvre. Nancy is France’s tallest Classical-style cathedral.

Find out more about Nancy Cathedral.

 

=37. Notre-Dame de la Croix de Ménilmontant, Paris (78 m).

Notre-Dame de la Croix © French Moments
Notre-Dame de la Croix © French Moments

Not very well known, the church built in the 19th century between the Parc de Belleville and the Père Lachaise Cemetery is ranked 6th for Paris’ tallest churches.

 

44. Saint-Lazare d’Autun Cathedral (77 m).

The lantern tower was built in 1479 to replace a Romanesque tower that was struck by lightning.

 

=44. Notre-Dame de Coutances Cathedral (77 m).

The lantern tower at the crossing of the transept is 57 m tall.

 

=44. Saint-Martin Church, Pau (77m).

The bell tower and the church were rebuilt in the 19th century.

 

47. Saint-Corentin de Quimper Cathedral (76 m).

The twin spires of the cathedral were added to the sanctuary in the 19th century.

 

=47. Notre-Dame de Bayeux Cathedral (76 m).

The twin towers of the façade are 2 metres higher than the magnificent lantern tower (74 m) above the crossing of the transept.

 

=47. Saint-Paul Temple, Strasbourg (76 m).

Strasbourg Cruise French Intensive Course 2012 45 © French Moments
St. Paul’s Church, Strasbourg © French Moments

The twin spires of this neo-Gothic church were built by the Germans between 1892 and 1897.

 

=47. Notre-Dame Church, Niort (76 m).

The spire of the bell tower is the tallest in the Deux-Sèvres département.

 

Other tall cathedrals and churches include monuments in the following cities: Angers, Évreux, Caen, Sainte-Chapelle of Paris, Saint-Esprit Church in Paris (75 m), Moulins (74 m), Saint-Sulpice in Paris (73m), Lisieux, St. Odile in Paris (72 m), Colmar (71 m), Sées, Metz, Niort and St. Clotilde in Paris (70 m), Tours, Paris (69 m), Saint-Ambroise in Paris (68 m), Aix-en-Provence, Toulouse, Voiron (67 m), Noyon (66 m), Bourges, Toul, Sainte-Trinité in Paris (65 m).

 

Good to know

Saint-Denis Basilica © French Moments
Saint-Denis Basilica © French Moments

The crossing tower of Saint-Pierre de Beauvais Cathedral used to reach 153 m, which made it France’s tallest cathedral of all times. The tower was struck by lightning and eventually collapsed in 1593.

If built, the spire of the North Tower of Saint-Denis Basilica will reach 86 m, making it the 20th tallest church in France.

Our list was made following extensive research about the heights of churches in France. Sometimes data were in contradiction and we assessed what was the most pertinent website or source of information in making our decision. This list may need your cooperation: if you know of a building that is missing or incorrectly reported, please contact us with a pertinent source. Thank you!

Find out more about Paris’ Tallest Churches.

 

English-French Vocabulary

France's tallest cathedrals - Strasbourg cathedral © French Moments
France’s tallest cathedrals – Strasbourg cathedral (142 m) © French Moments

(f) for féminin, (m) for masculin, (adj) for adjective and (v) for verbs

  • abbey = abbaye (f)
  • architect = architecte (m)
  • architecture = architecture (f)
  • basilica = basilique (f)
  • bell tower = clocher (m)
  • to build = construire (v)
  • cathedral = cathédrale (f)
  • Catholic = catholique
  • chapel = chapelle (f)
  • church = église (f)
  • crossing = croisée (f)
  • dome = dôme (m)
  • façade = façade (f)
  • Gothic art = art gothique (m)
  • height = hauteur (f)
  • Middle-Ages = Moyen-Âge (m)
  • monument = monument (m)
  • Protestant = protestant
  • Romanesque art = art roman (m)
  • sanctuary = sanctuaire (m)
  • spire = flèche (f)
  • steeple = flèche (f)
  • temple = temple (m)
  • tower = tour (f)
  • transept = transept (m)
About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of the Discovery Course on the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas book "Voyage au Pays de Noël".

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