Église Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie

L’Église Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie or the Church of Saint James of the Butchery was a church that was built around the 12th century. Its name was derived from the patron butchers who did their trading in Les Halles market not so far away. The church started off as a small establishment, and it was continually being expanded, more so between the 14th and the 16th century. It was during the latter age that it was finally completed. A magnificent structure adorned in gothic architecture, L’eglise Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie was a place of worship for many a religious folk. Besides being the church of the patron butchers, it was the destination of choice for pilgrims who were only about to start their pilgrim journeys. They would congregate at the church before they set out on what is commonly referred to as The Way of Saint James.

In the early 1500s, it was decided that a tower needed to be built not only to amplify the worth of the church, but make it a monument that could be appreciated by all. The Tour Saint-Jacques was constructed between 1509 and 1523. Gothic influence was heavy with the architectural styles of those centuries, and it was evidently used in the construction of the tower. It rose above the church and stood at a height of 52m. The tower is highly ornamental, and is adorned in many unique figures. Part of the reason is because the generosity of the financiers that ranged from parishioners made up of the patron butchers to the Grand Boucherie in Paris.

During the French Revolution, almost all the churches in Paris were abandoned. They were quickly transformed from places of worship to meeting places. They were looted, and some were completely destroyed. L’eglise Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie succumbed to such a fate, and it was torn apart. However the tower was spared, as its importance was felt to be greater than just that of any tower built next to a church. In fact, even after the church was destroyed, the tower was considered a monument on its own, and was consequently taken care of. A restoration project was undertaken at around the same time the Rue de Rivoli was being built. The reconstruction was massive, with the lower parts of the church where the pedestal was built being almost completely redone. The gargoyles and the statues were reconstructed from scratch. In addition, a statue of Blaise Pascal was erected at the base of the tower. He did some of his experiments there on atmospheric pressure, and a lab that he reportedly used is still present at the tower. A statue of the patron saint of the church that once stood, Saint Jacques was also installed at the top of the tower. There are four others- a bull, a lion, an eagle and a man, and these are placed on each of the four top corners of the tower. There is a park around the tower that was built during the restoration, and it exists even today. A second restoration project was completed in 2009 to enhance the integrity of the tower, and fix the imperfections that were starting to show.