Eglise Notre Dame de Lorette

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Visited the church ‘Notre dame de Lorette’ for the first time. What an interesting history and background she she holds.

Designed by Louis-Hippolyte Lebas, an architect who trained under Percier and Fontaine (Napoleon’s preferred architects), Notre dame de Lorette is an interesting homage to neoclassical architecture.

The austere attention to form and structure of its exterior gives little insight into the generously elaborate ceilings and walls within its confines. Plastered with representations of biblical figures and of the Franks who placed French history into motion including Saints Remy, Genevieve and Clotilde, and King Clovis, Notre dame de Lorette also offers an interesting space to study some of France’s founding myths and beliefs.

Apparently, the fact that the Lebas chose to build the church ‘on stilts’ is not merely a matter of aesthetic preference. I am not sure how to say this in correct architectural terminology – but the neoclassical design was as much a stylistic choice as it was one made in consideration of the nature of the soil in the area and the need for sustainable weight distribution.

Interestingly as well, this building is in fact the third iteration of a religious space after two unsuccessful attempts, which were originally placed under the patronage of other saints before its current dedication to ‘Our Lady of Lorette’.

That being said, it is also correct, it seems, to appreciate the buidling as a broader commentary on the 19th century and the neoclassical tastes of the time. Some readings that I’ve come across even make comparisons and attributions of inspiration to Basilica di Saint Maria Maggiore. The list of sculptors who contributed to the building (Denis Fotayer, Charles- Francois Leboeuf) further reinforce the neoclassical ambitions of Notre dame de Lorette.

The buildings’ history, perserverance and elaborate interior decor make it a fascinating window into a Paris of a different time. Not only does it represent the 19th century and leave a mark of the politics of the time but it faithfully echoes back to various episodes of the cities past and the characters that have entered history to shape the beliefs, tastes and aesthetics of Paris.

It also is clearly well suited as a space to take a pause and take a breather. On a sunny day its’ front steps also seem to be a preferred spot to sun bathe or grab sandwiches. Well, if one prefers to do that, why not. It is a pity though to miss out on what lies inside.

Métro: Line 12 stop Notre dame de Lorette
18 bis, rue de Châteaudun, Paris 9th Arr.