Appreciate panoramic city views from the top of this Gothic tower, which is the last vestige of a 16th-century church.
Stare in awe at the elaborate Gothic art and architecture of Tour Saint-Jacques (Saint Jacques Tower). Join a guided tour to learn about its history and climb to the summit for exquisite views over the rooftops of Paris. Built in the early 1500s, Tour Saint-Jacques is the only surviving remnant of the Eglise Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie, a church demolished in 1797. Major renovations in the 2000s helped to restore the tower to its original glory.
See the square-shaped structure rising to a height of 171 feet (52 meters) above a peaceful square and garden. Its opulent décor is a reflection of the affluence of the guild of butchers who commissioned the building of the former church. Famed French author Alexandre Dumas took inspiration from the tower for his theatrical drama La Tour Saint-Jacques.
Crowning the tower is a statue of St. James. Other artistic features include archways, carvings of floral patterns, gargoyles and sculptures of biblical characters. Inside the open-sided porch look for a statue of the physicist Blaise Pascal. Legends say that Pascal conducted barometric investigations at the tower.
Reach the lookout deck via a narrow 300-step stairway. Access is by guided tour only. Your reward for making the climb is a spectacular 360-degree view of central Paris. Spot the Eiffel Tower, Hôtel de Ville, Les Invalides, the Pantheon and the Seine, among other major landmarks. Hear stories about the church and tower. The church was a starting point for French pilgrims traveling by foot to Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
Find the tower in Square de la Tour Saint-Jacques, a short walk from the Châtelet and Hôtel de Ville metro stations. The square is a green oasis ideal for escaping the city’s tourist crowds. Notice a plaque honoring the poet Gérard de Nerval. Sit on a bench or the lush lawns, read, gaze up at the tower or watch people pass by.
Guided tours of Tour Saint-Jacques are available for a fee from June to October. Sign up in person or book in advance via the official website of Des Mots et Des Arts, a cultural agency for art and history tours.