As long as I had been in Paris, the Tour Saint Jaques had been under scaffolding, and hidden by the screens that cover them. I had no idea what was underneath all that white. A complete mystery to me, I heard that it had been under scaffolding since 2001 waiting for the argument over who was to pay for the restauration to come to a conclusion. Finally in 2007 the tower started to shed it’s heavey coat and reveal it’s gorgeous gothic head.
I was particularly looking forward to seeing whatit looked like, having never seen it. And when it was finally uncovered I was thrilled to see such a gem from the middle ages. It’s been cleaned and has a lovely creamy white color, and sticks out gloriously against the blue sky.
The tower is what remains of a church called Saint-Jaques-de-la-Boucherie which was founded in the 12th century, apparantly ordered by Charlemagne, but this has never been confirmed. The tower was added in the 16th century (flamboyant gothic style, which I find a little odd for that century which was suddenly preoccupied with Italian style architecture and the Renaissance was about to happen, but perhaps the got a discount from an architect who was having a promotion on anything retro styled… It was designed by these three guys : Jean de Felin, Julien Ménart et Jean de Revier.
It seems that this tower held a relic of Saint Jaques, and was a place of pilgrimage. The tower fell under the ownership of the city of Paris in 1836, and in 1862 was classified as a historical monument.
There is a lovely garden surrounding it, where you can sprawl out, or sit under a tree, or snuggle on one of the park benches. You can’t go up the tower, but you can sit in it’s shade and enjoy its beauty.
Access it on rue de Rivoli, in the 4th and on the edge of the 1st arrondissements. the closes metros are Châtelet and Hôtel de Ville.
the square below it is open at 8:00am on weekdays and 9:00am on weekends and holidays. It closes at 8:30pm from May 1st to August 31st. After that date, I am not sure, but I am assuming it closes earlier (probably around sundown).