The Madeleine is an obese Napoleonic structure on the classical temple model which was built for the emperor as yet another monument to the victory of his army.
Following many vicissitudes and changes of plan, the present building is now a windowless edifice with a Greek temple facade of Corinthian columns 20 metres high. Work on the church was begun in I764.
However, following the death ofthe architect in 1777 a new scheme was considered, and a Greekcross building begun. Well before its completion the revolutionary government dreamt up more rational uses for the building in progress. Napoleon decided on a Temple of Glory dedicated to the Great Army and in I806 commissioned Barthelemy Vignon to build it. After the erection of the colonnades, Louis XVIII, restored to power in I8I4, ordered that the temple be once more a church.
Unlike the exterior, the interior is lavishly overdecorated. At the east end a series of frescoes celebrates heroes of Christianity in a span which includes, surprisingly, Napoleon. Sculpted by Lemaire, the pediment represents the Last Judgement J.C. baptism by Rude.
And, just outside the Madeleine, along the east side , you can find every day except Monday, a beautiful flower market. Also, a luxurious Art Nouveau by the metro at the junction of place and boulevard de la Madeleine. But the greatest appeal of place de la Madeleine is the famous “Fauchon”delicatessen shop, in the northeast corner. And, down the west side for rich gourmets and window-gazers you’ll find the smaller Hédiard’s, as well as caviar, truffle and spirit specialists.
Place de la Madeleine
Tel. : 01 44 51 69 00
Metro line 8 or 12 : Madeleine
RER A : Auber
Monday to Saturday : 7 am to 7 pm
Sunday : 8 am to 1.30 pm and 3.30 pm to 7pm