If you want to begin your pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, begin at Châtelet and the Tour Saint-Jacques in Paris. Or skip the pilgrimage and let MagmaCultura help you discover the fabulous history of the tower and its uses through the centuries. A specialized guide leads you to one of the most beautiful, panoramic views of Paris! Along the journey up 300 steps, you will also visit a room with tower decoration fragments and a meteorology room that was in use until 2000.
MagmaCultura works with the City of Paris for the ticketing and guided tours. The Tower is open to visitors every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from the second weekend in June until the second weekend in November, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For group visits, school visits or visits in languages other than those offered online, write to firstname.lastname@example.org. For the English tour at 1 p.m., use the contact email address to request specific dates and times. In September, October and November a minimum of two per weekend are planned depending on the availability of the guides. The French tours run every hour between 10 a.m. and 6 pm.
To be sure of going up in the tower, reservations should be made online www.toursaintjacques.fr. Tickets are for timed entry. There is a ticket kiosk at the foot of the Tour Saint-Jacques. Full price is 12 euros and reduced price is 10 euros. The reduced price (for visitors under 18 and students) includes admission and the guided tour. The tour lasts one hour. Access restrictions: People suffering from claustrophobia and vertigo. People with walking difficulties or heart problems, with visual, hearig or physical disabilities. You must be over 10 years old.
MagmaCultura agency’s tour retraces the history of this eleventh century vestige on the Right Bank (Rive Droite). The former bell tower of the Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie church has dominated the landscape of the Right Bank of the Seine for five centuries. The church was sold during the French Revolution and only the tower remains. Prior to the City of Paris’s purchase of the tower in 1836, it was a bomb-making facility. The city turned it into an ornamental tower surrounded by a garden, which remains today.
More information from the City of Paris
A Little History Before You Go
I would highly recommend reading the history of the area before you take the tour. Read about the Grand Châtelet and Grand Boucherie (in French so needs a translation). Because of the smell, this area was outside the city walls. The butchers and fish mongers worked and cleaned and sold the meat and fish. The Seine was so close they could conveniently jettison the carcasses and innards to float away. This area was so filthy and unhygienic! What a difference a couple of centuries makes.
The church, Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie, originally finished in 1523, was dismantled stone-by-stone in 1793 and only the clock tower was allowed to remain. The tower was saved when a private individual persuaded the revolutionaries to save this unique piece of their heritage and history. They agreed as long as it was transferred into secular hands and out of the church’s possession.
The City of Paris bought and restored the tower of the former church, Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie, in 1836. It was renovated in 1858 to not look like a church bell tower. The tower survived the Haussmannien period and became an ornament along the public thoroughfare of rue de Rivoli.
Wanting to have green spaces as in London, a park was made around the tower and a facing street was named in honor of Queen Victoria coinciding with her Paris visit. The tower of Saint-Jacques was used as a meteorological observatory from 1895 to 2000. For anyone that visited Paris after 2001, you would have seen the tower engulfed in scaffolding. The renovations were so extensive to match stone fragments and reinforce the foundation that work could not begin until 2006 and lasted until its reopening in 2013.