Top 10 France’s tallest cathedrals and churches

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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).

Cote Sainte Catherine in Rouen 07 copyright French Moments

Rouen Cathedral seen from Côte Sainte-Catherine © 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 our 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 our 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 our 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 our 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 our 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 our 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.


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 our more about Notre-Dame Cathedral.


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

Metz Cathedral © French Moments

Metz Cathedral seen from Place de Chambre © French Moments

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

Find our 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 our 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 our 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 our 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 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 our 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 octogonal towers and their spires are 76 m tall.

Find our 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 our 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 our 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 our 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 an 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 taking 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

Strasbourg cathedral seen from the Palais Rohan © French Moments

The cathedral seen from the Palais Rohan © 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)

 

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About 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. In 2014 he moved back to Europe from Sydney with his wife and daughter to be closer to their families and to France. He has a background teaching French 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.

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