Cathédrales of France

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France is rich with ancient architecture ranging from small Romanesque churches to breathtakingly-large Gothic cathedrals. Many French towns and cities have at least one major church, basilica, or cathedral. France is also well-known for its cathedrals and there are nearly 200 still-standing, many of which were originally built in the 12th and 13th-centuries.
Notre Dame de Paris gargoyles north tower
Notre Dame gargolyes on the North Tower
Among these are some of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in all of Europe.

As France emerged from the Dark Ages in the eleventh century, there was a surge in Romanesque-style construction, based on the Roman model that included very thick walls, rounded arches, heavy vaults, simple decoration, and fewer yet larger structural piers. French architects improved this basic structure which developed in northern France and over time spread throughout Europe between 1150 and the 1500's. Characteristics of Gothic architecture include pointed arches, ribbed vaulting, and flying buttresses, all of which were key factors that allowed for much taller buildings with larger windows than were previously constructed in the Romanesque examples.

Cathédrales of France

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City Cathédrales Region Photos
Agde Saint-Etienne Languedoc-Roussillon Photo
Agen Saint-Caprais Aquitaine Photo
Aire-sur-l'Adour Saint-Jean-Baptiste Aquitaine Photo
Aix-en-Provence Saint-Sauveur Provence Photo
Ajaccio Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption Corse Photo
Albi Sainte-Cécile Midi-Pyrénées Photo
Alès Saint-Jean-Baptiste Languedoc-Roussillon Photo
Alet-les-Bains Saint-Benoît and Notre-Dame Languedoc-Roussillon Photo
Amiens Notre-Dame Picardie Photo
Angers Saint-Maurice Pays-de-la-Loire Photo
Angoulême Saint-Pierre Poitou-Charentes Photo
Annecy Saint-Pierre Rhône-Alpes Photo
Antibes Notre-Dame-de-la-Platea Provence Photo
Apt Sainte-Anne Provence Photo
Arles Saint-Trophime Provence Photo
Arras Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Vaast Nord-Pas de Calais Photo
Auch Primatiale Sainte-Marie Midi-Pyrénées Photo
Autun Saint-Nazaire and Saint-Lazare Bourgogne Photo
Auxerre Saint-Etienne Bourgogne Photo
Avignon Notre-Dame-des-Doms Provence Photo
Avranches Saint-André Basse-Normandie Photo
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Bastia Sainte-Marie Corse Photo
Bayeux Notre-Dame Basse-Normandie Photo
Bayonne Sainte-Marie Aquitaine Photo
Bazas Saint-Jean-Baptiste Aquitaine Photo
Beauvais Saint-Pierre Picardie Photo
Belfort Saint-Christophe Franche-Comté Photo
Belley Saint-Jean Rhône-Alpes Photo
Besançon Saint-Jean Franche-Comté Photo
Béziers Saint-Nazaire-et-Saint-Celse Languedoc-Roussillon Photo
Blois Saint-Louis Centre
Bordeaux Saint-André Aquitaine Photo
Boulogne-sur-Mer Notre-Dame Nord-Pas de Calais Photo
Bourg-en-Bresse Notre-Dame-de-l'Annonciation Rhône-Alpes
Bourges Saint-Etienne Centre Photo
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Cahors Saint-Etienne de Cahors Midi-Pyrénées Photo
Calvi Saint-Jean-Baptiste Corse
Cambrai Notre-Dame Nord-Pas de Calais
Carcassonne Saint-Michel and Saint-Nazaire-et-Saint-Celse Languedoc-Roussillon
Carpentras Saint-Siffrein Provence
Castres Saint-Benoît Midi-Pyrénées
Cavaillon Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Véran Provence
Cervione Saint-Erasme Corse
Chalon-sur-Saône Saint-Vincent Bourgogne
Châlons-en-Champagne Saint-Etienne Champagne-Ardenne Photo
Chambéry Saint-François-de-Sales Rhône-Alpes
Chartres Notre-Dame Centre Photo
Choisy-le-Roi Saint-Louis Saint-Nicolas Ile-de-France
Clamecy Notre-Dame Bourgogne
Clermont-Ferrand Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption Auvergne Photo
Condom Saint-Pierre Midi-Pyrénées Photo
Corbeil-Essonnes Saint-Spire Ile-de-France
Coutances Notre-Dame Basse-Normandie Photo
Créteil Notre-Dame Ile-de-France
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Dax Notre-Dame Aquitaine Photo
Die Notre-Dame Rhône-Alpes
Digne-les-Bains Saint-Jérôme and Notre-Dame-du-Bourg Provence
Dijon Saint-Bénigne Bourgogne Photo
Dol-de-Bretagne Saint-Samson Bretagne
Eauze Saint-Luperc Midi-Pyrénées
Elne Sainte-Eulalie-et-Sainte-Julie d'Elne Languedoc-Roussillon
Embrun Notre-Dame Provence
Entrevaux Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption Provence
Evreux Notre-Dame Haute-Normandie Photo
Evry Cathédrale de la Résurrection d'Evry Ile-de-France
Forcalquier Notre-Dame-du-Bourguet Provence
Fréjus Saint-Léonce Provence
Gap Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Arnoux Provence
Glandèves Notre-Dame-de-la-Sède Provence
Grasse Notre-Dame-du-Puy Provence
Grenoble Notre-Dame Rhône-Alpes
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La Rochelle Saint-Louisand Saint-Barthélémy Poitou-Charentes
Langres Saint-Mammès Champagne-Ardenne Photo
Laon Notre-Dame Picardie Photo
Laval Cathédrale de la Trinité Pays-de-la-Loire
Lavaur Saint-Alain Midi-Pyrénées
Le Havre Notre-Dame Haute-Normandie
Le Mans St-Julien Pays-de-la-Loire
Le Puy-en-Velay Notre-Dame Auvergne Photo
Lectoure Saint-Gervais-et-Saint-Protais Midi-Pyrénées
Lescar Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption Aquitaine
Lille Notre-Dame-de-la-Treille Nord-Pas de Calais
Limoges Saint-Etienne Limousin Photo
Lisieux Saint-Pierre Basse-Normandie
Lodève Saint-Fulcran Languedoc-Roussillon
Lombez Sainte-Marie Midi-Pyrénées
Lucciana Sainte-Marie-de-l'Assomption Corse
Luçon Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption Pays-de-la-Loire
Lyon Saint-Jean-Baptiste Rhône-Alpes Photo
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Mâcon Saint-Vincent Bourgogne
Maillezais Saint-Pierre Pays-de-la-Loire
Marseille Sainte-Marie-Majeure Provence Photo
Meaux Saint-Etienne Ile-de-France
Mende Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Privas Languedoc-Roussillon
Metz Saint-Etienne Lorraine Photo
Mirepoix Saint-Maurice Midi-Pyrénées
Montauban Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption Midi-Pyrénées
Montpellier Saint-Pierre Languedoc-Roussillon
Moulins Notre-Dame Auvergne Photo
Moûtiers Saint-Pierre Rhône-Alpes
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Nancy Notre-Dame-de-l'Annonciation Lorraine
Nanterre Sainte-Geneviève-et-Saint-Maurice Ile-de-France
Nantes Saint-Pierre Pays-de-la-Loire Photo
Narbonne Saint-Just-et-Saint-Pasteur Languedoc-Roussillon Photo
Nevers Saint-Cyr-et-Sainte-Julitte Bourgogne
Nice Sainte-Réparate Provence
Nice Cathédrale Orthodoxe Russe Saint-Nicolas Provence
Nîmes Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Castor Languedoc-Roussillon
Noyon Notre-Dame Picardie Photo
Oloron-Sainte-Marie Sainte-Marie Aquitaine
Orange Notre-Dame-de-Nazareth Provence
Orléans Sainte-Croix Centre
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Pamiers Saint-Antonin Midi-Pyrénées
Paris Notre-Dame Ile-de-France Photo
Paris Saint-Louis-des-Invalides Ile-de-France
Paris Cathédrale de la Sainte-Trinité Ile-de-France
Paris Saint-Jean-Baptiste-Armenian Ile-de-France
Paris Saint-Etienne - Greek Orthodox Ile-de-France
Paris Saint-Alexandre-Nevski - Russian Orthodox Ile-de-France
Paris Saint Volodymyr-le-Grand - Ukrainian Ile-de-France
Périgueux Saint-Etienne-de-la-Cité and Saint-Front Aquitaine Photo
Perpignan Saint-Jean-Baptiste Languedoc-Roussillon
Poitiers Saint-Pierre Poitou-Charentes Photo
Pontoise Saint-Maclou Ile-de-France
Quimper Saint-Corentin Bretagne
Reims Notre-Dame Champagne Photo
Rennes Saint-Pierre and Notre-Dame-en-Saint-Mélaine Bretagne
Rieux-Volvestre Cathédrale de la Nativité-de-Marie Midi-Pyrénées
Riez Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption Provence
Rodez Notre-Dame Midi-Pyrénées Photo
Rouen Notre-Dame Haute-Normandie Photo
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Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges Notre-Dame Midi-Pyrénées Photo
Saint-Brieuc Saint-Etienne Bretagne
Saint-Claude Saint-Claude Franche-Comté
Saint Denis Saint-Denis Ile-de-France
Saint-Dié-des-Vosges Saint-Dié-des-Vosges Lorraine
Saint-Etienne Saint-Charles-de-Borromé Rhône-Alpes
Saint-Florent Saint-Florent Corse
Saint-Flour Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Flour Auvergne
Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne Saint-Jean-Baptiste Rhône-Alpes
Saint-Lizier Notre-Dame-de-la-Sède and Cathédrale Midi-Pyrénées
Saint-Malo Saint-Vincent-de-Saragosse Bretagne Photo
Saint-Omer Notre-Dame Nord-Pas-de-Calais Photo
Saint-Papoul Saint-Papoul Languedoc-Roussillon
Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux Notre-Dame Rhône-Alpes
Saint-Pol-de-Léon Saint-Paul-Aurélien Bretagne
Saint-Pons-de-Thomières Saint-Pons Languedoc-Roussillon
Saint-Servan Saint-Pierre d'Aleth Bretagne
Saintes Saint-Pierre Poitou-Charentes
Sarlat (la-Canéda) Saint-Sacerdos Aquitaine
Sées Notre-Dame Basse-Normandie
Senez Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption Provence
Senlis Notre-Dame Picardie Photo
Sens Saint-Etienne Bourgogne
Sisteron Notre-Dame-des-Pommiers Provence
Soissons Saint-Gervais-et-Saint-Protais Picardie Photo
Sospel Saint-Michel Provence
Strasbourg Notre-Dame Alsace Photo
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Tarbes Notre-Dame-de-la-Sède Midi-Pyrénées
Thérouanne Cathédrale de Thérouanne Nord-Pas-de-Calais
Toul Saint-Etienne Lorraine Photo
Toulon Notre-Dame-de-la-Sède Provence Photo
Toulouse Saint-Etienne Midi-Pyrénées
Tours Saint-Gatien Centre Photo
Tréguier Saint-Tugdual Bretagne Photo
Troyes Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul Champagne-Ardenne Photo
Tulle Notre-Dame Limousin
Uzès Saint-Théodorit Languedoc-Roussillon
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Vabres-l'Abbaye Saint-Sauveur-et-Saint-Pierre Midi-Pyrénées
Vaison-la-Romaine Notre-Dame-de-Nazareth Provence
Valence Saint-Apollinaire Rhône-Alpes
Vannes Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Patern Bretagne Photo
Vence Cathédrale de la Nativité-de-Marie Provence
Verdun Notre-Dame Lorraine
Versailles Saint-Louis Ile-de-France
Vescovato Saint-Martin Corse
Vico Saint-Appien Corse
Vienne Saint-Maurice Rhône-Alpes Photo
Villeneuve-lès-Maguelone Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul (Maguelone) Languedoc-Roussillon
Viviers Saint-Vincent Rhône-Alpes

Cathédrales of France in Overseas Territories




Basse-Terre Notre-Dame Guadeloupe
Cayenne Saint-Sauveur French Guiana
Fort-de-France Saint-Louis Martinique
Matâ 'Utu Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption Matâ'Utu, Wallis and Futuna
Nouméa Saint-Joseph New Caledonia
Papeete Notre-Dame Tahiti
Pointe--Pitre Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul Guadeloupe
Saint-Denis Saint-Denis Réunion
Saint-Pierre Saint-Pierre Saint Pierre and Miquelon
Tai o Hae Notre-Dame de Taiohae or des Marquises Marquesas

Useful Terms

France Paris Notre Dame rose window

* Aisle - The part of a church that runs parallel to the main areas including the nave, choir, and transepts, and is separated from them by an arcade.
* Ambulatory - An aisle that curves around the east end of the church passing behind the sanctuary.
* Apse - The end or termination of the building usually at the east side of the church and often rounded.
* Arcades - A set of arches and supporting columns usually on the floor level.
* Basilique or Basilica - Early church with two aisles and nave lit from above by clerestory windows.
* Buttress - Mass of structural masonry built to support a wall. Large stone pier that rises across the aisle from the pier and is connected to a pier by a flying buttress.
* Capital - The top of a column which is usually wider, usually carved, and creates a visual transition between the top of the column and whatever it supports.
* Cathédrale or Cathedral - a Christian church and religious building for worship that contains the seat of a bishop. Specifically, a denomination with an episcopal hierarchy, such as Roman Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, and some Lutheran churches.
* Centering - The timber framework that supports the stones of an arch until the mortar between them can dry.
* Choir - The section of the church east of the transept crossing that is sometimes above the level of the nave. It is traditionally where the choir stands to sing during the service.
* Clerestory - A row of windows illuminating the nave from above the aisle roof.
* Crossing - The center of the cruciform where the transepts cross the nave.
* Crown - The highest part of the arch, where the keystone is located.
* Crypt - Usually below ground and is used for burial or as a chapel.
* Flamboyant Gothic - Carved stone tracery with flame-like windings in its tracery and a lengthening of pediments and the tops of arches.
* Flying buttress - An arched support that transmits the thrust of the roof and wall weight-loads downwards.
* Gargoyle - A carved and sometimes grotesque figure, animal, or creature that functions as a water diverter away from the roof.
* Lantern - A turret with windows to illuminate the interior often with with a cupola or domed ceiling.
* Mullion - The narrow upright stone framework used to divide the panels of a stained-glass window.
* Nave - The central and usually largest area of a church where the congregation normally stands.
* Pier - The pillar or column that supports an arch.
* Portal - Monumental entrance to the building, often decorated.
* Rib vault - A vault supported by projecting ribs or spans of stone.
* Rose - Circular window often made of stained glass.
* Tracery - The ornamental carved stonework within a Gothic window that provides the framing and support for the glass.
* Transept - Two extensions of a cruciform-shaped church at right angles to the nave.
* Triforium - The arcaded story between the nave arcades and the clerestory.
* Truss - A triangular wooden frame. The roof frame for a cathedral is formed by a series of trusses fastened together.
* Tympanum - Decorated and often carved space over a door or window lintel of a cathedral.
* Vault - The construction element made of brick or mortar that follows the shape of the arch and makes up the ceiling and roof.
* Voussoirs - Blocks of stone cut into wedge shapes to form an arch.

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Amiens Cathédrale floor plan

France Amiens Cathedral floor plan

Additional Resources for Cathédrales of France

French Cathedrals Blogspot

Gotik-Romanik Gothic and Romanesque photos
Sacred Destinations

Structurae - Structural architecture
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