Cathedrals in France

Toulon Cathedral

The first cathedral at Toulon existed in the 5th century, but no trace of it remains. The present building was begun in 1096 by Gilbert, Count of Provence, according to tradition in gratitude for his safe return from the Crusades. The first three travées, or bays of the nave, remain from the Romanesque 11th century church, and the present Chapel of Saint Joseph was originally the choir apse. The Chapel of Relics ...
Founded: 1096 | Location: Toulon, France

Meaux Cathedral

Meaux Cathedral construction began between 1175-1180, when a structure in Romanesque style was started. Defects in the original design and construction had to be corrected in the 13th century, in which the architect Gautier de Vainfroy was much involved. He had to remove the previous cathedral almost totally and start a new structure in Gothic style. In the later 13th century work was often interrupted due to lack of fund ...
Founded: 1175-1180 | Location: Meaux, France

Dol Cathedral

Dol Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Samson de Dol) was formerly the seat of the Archbishop of Dol, one of the nine ancient bishoprics of Brittany. The archbishopric was suppressed during the French Revolution and abolished by the Concordat of 1801, when it was merged into the dioceses of Rennes and St. Brieuc. The building is notable for its eclectic mix of styles and idiosyncrasies, such as the incomplete north tower ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Dol-de-Bretagne, France

Agde Cathedral

Agde Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Stephen and stands on the bank of the Hérault River. The present building was constructed in the 12th century, beginning in 1173 under the direction of bishop William II of Agde, and replaced a Carolingian church of the 9th century that stood on the foundations of a 5th-century Roman church, formerly a temple of Diana. The cathedral is remarkable for being built of black basalt from ...
Founded: 1173 | Location: Agde, France

Saint-Pol-de-Léon Cathedral

Saint-Pol-de-Léon Cathedral was formerly the seat of the Bishop of Saint-Pol-de-Léon, a bishopric established in the 6th century and abolished under the Concordat of 1801, when its territory was transferred to the Diocese of Quimper. It is dedicated to its 6th-century founder, the first bishop Saint Paul Aurelian. He was originally from Wales and he is considered to have been the first bishop of the L&eacut ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Saint-Pol-de-Léon, France

Lectoure Cathedral

The former Lectoure Cathedral dominates the town and the belfry tower of 1488 can be seen at a distance as the town is approached. The repairs and modifications of the cathedral go back to the 12th century. The unadorned west front erected in the 15th century has been modified through the ages, and niches above the door have all but melted away due to the fragility of the limestone. The nave was vaulted at the end of th ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Lectoure, France

Le Havre Cathedral

Le Havre Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame du Havre) was previously a parish church dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, and is the oldest of the very few buildings in central Le Havre to have survived the devastation of World War II. It became a cathedral and the seat of the Bishop of Le Havre in 1974, when the diocese of Le Havre was created. The belltower dates from around 1520 and the main façade is ...
Founded: 1575 | Location: Le Havre, France

Bazas Cathedral

Bazas Cathedral was the seat of the Bishop of Bazas until the French Revolution (after which it was not restored but was instead, by the Concordat of 1801, divided between the dioceses of Bordeaux, Agen and Aire) and its main attraction is still the cathedral dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, so named because the blood of John the Baptist was venerated here. The cathedral dominates the town and stands at the east end o ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Bazas, France

Alet Cathedral Ruins

The origins of this Benedictine abbey in Alet remain unknown: its foundation is attributed to Béra, the count of Razès, and his wife, Romille, in 813 A.D. but the documentary source of this information is not sure. The history of the abbey has been one of a succession of quarrels and conflict due to its strategic location: for example, in the 11th century the abbey was ravaged by the Count of Carcassonne, t ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Alet-les-Bains, France

Lisieux Cathedral

Lisieux Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Lisieux) is a former Roman Catholic cathedral, and a national monument of France. Built between 1170 and the middle of the 13th century through the initiative of Bishop Arnulf, the cathedral was the seat of the Bishop of Lisieux until the diocese of Lisieux was abolished under the Concordat of 1801 and merged into the Diocese of Bayeux. The west front of the building c ...
Founded: 1170 | Location: Lisieux, France

Carcassonne Cathedral

Carcassonne Cathedral was built in the 13th century as a parish church, dedicated to Saint Michael. Following war damage in the 14th century it was rebuilt as a fortified church. In 1803 St. Michael"s was elevated to cathedral status, replacing the earlier cathedral dedicated to Saints Nazarius and Celsus, now the Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse. The cathedral plan is characterised by its relative simplicity. ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Carcassonne, France

Oloron Cathedral

Oloron Cathedral, now St. Mary"s Church, is a Roman Catholic church and former cathedral located in the town of Oloron-Sainte-Marie. It is in the Romanesque and Gothic architectural traditions. Construction was started in the 12th century by Gaston IV, Viscount of Béarn. It was the seat of the Bishopric of Oloron, suppressed by the Concordat of 1801. Restored in 1850, listed in 1939, the cathedral is inscribed ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Oloron-Sainte-Marie, France

Lescar Cathedral

The building of Lescar Cathedral was begun in 1120 by Bishop Guy de Lons, and was sacked by the Protestants during the reign of Jeanne III of Navarre. It was restored in the 17th and 18th centuries. The apse, housing a pavement mosaic from the 12th century with hunting scenes, is in Romanesque style. In the interior, columns have capitals depicting histories of the life of Daniel, of the birth of Christ and the S ...
Founded: 1120 | Location: Lescar, France

Mende Cathedral

Dominated by the silhouette of its two differently-sized bell towers, the Mende Cathedral was built from the 14th century onwards at the request of Urbanus V, a pope from Gévaudan, whose bronze statue has stood on the forecourt since 1874. Once inside the building, discover the crypt of St. Privatus, the black Virgin dating from the 12th century, brought back from the East by the crusaders, the carved wooden stalls, the ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Mende, France

Vaison-la-Romaine Cathedral

The cathedral of Vaison was built on the ruins of a Roman temple, the remains of which can be seen outside the chevet. More than one church has existed on this site; a 6th-century basilica was destroyed by Frankish invaders. The present building dates primarily from the 11th and 12th centuries. After a dispute with the Count of Toulouse in the late 12th century, the medieval city of Vaison was mostly abandoned for the ne ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Vaison-la-Romaine, France

Sées Cathedral

Sées Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Sées) dates from the 13th and 14th century and occupies the site of three earlier churches. The west front, which is disfigured by the buttresses projecting beyond it, has two stately spires of open work 230 ft. high. The nave was built towards the end of the 13th century. The choir, built soon afterwards, is remarkable for the lightness of its construction. In ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Sées, France

Lodève Cathedral

Originally Lodève Cathedral was dedicated to Saint Genesius of Arles, who was a martyr of the Diocletian persecution, and was beheaded in 303 (his martyrdom is represented on the keystone of the vault of the apse). Since 1410 the cathedral has been dedicated to Saint Fulcran, who as bishop of Lodève restored the cathedral in the 10th century. Some traces of previous buildings are preserved in the crypt. The first cathe ...
Founded: c. 1265 | Location: Lodève, France

Agen Cathedral

Agen Cathedral's (Cathédrale Saint-Caprais d'Agen) visible structure dates back to the 12th century. It was built as a collegiate church of canons dedicated to Saint Caprasius, on the foundations of a basilica sacked by the Normans in 853 but thereafter restored. Sacked again in December 1561 during the Wars of Religion, by two years after the countrywide coup d'état that took place in 1789, the cathedral had come to s ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Agen, France

Aire Cathedral

Aire Cathedral, dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, is located in the town of Aire-sur-l"Adour. It was the seat of the Bishops of Aire until the diocese was abolished in 1801 and again from 1822 when the diocese was restored; in 1857 it was renamed the Diocese of Aire and Dax. In 1933 the bishop moved to Dax, making Dax Cathedral his seat, when the cathedral at Aire became a co-cathedral. The cathedral is s ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Aire-sur-l'Adour, France

Pontoise Cathedral

Pontoise Cathedral, raised to the status of cathedral in 1966 when the Diocese of Pontoise was created, is dedicated to Saint Maclovius (Maclou). Construction began in the 12th century on the site of an ancient chapel of Saint Eustace and the building was enlarged and completed in the 15th and 16th centuries. Thus the central and eastern parts of the cathedral are 12th century, while the tower and the central portal are i ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Pontoise, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Caerleon Roman Amphitheatre

Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.

Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.

Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.