This gorgeous church is Saint Augustin Church. Although I’ve passed it quite frequently and can see the top of its dome by Parc Monceau, I never actually took the time to look up what it was called. So while taking a leisurely stroll to the bank today, I decided some much-needed cultural insight was in order.
Apparently the area where this church stands in the 8th arrondissement used to be known as “little Poland” and went through significant redevelopment after French civic planner Baron Haussmann was hired by Napoleon III to rebuild Paris in the 1860s. Haussmann’s biggest challenge was to modernize what was then considered a medieval Paris and still keep the city’s traditional design. When you think of what Paris looks like today, it can pretty much be attributed to Haussmann, as by “renovating” Paris he transformed more than 60% of the buildings in the city – which are known as “Haussmannian” in style. These days, you can imagine what architects have to deal with as when they gut buildings, the façade always remains the same with its natural stone – but the inside is completely demolished. It’s like looking at a hollow building with only one wall standing.
Back to the church! So, St. Augustin Church is inspired by Romanesque and Byzantine art and its triangular shape is the result of how the streets avenue César Caire and boulevard Malesherbes meet. When it was built in 1860, what was so innovative about it was how it was the first building of its size (300 feet long by 240 feet wide) to be constructed from a metal frame structure of iron and steel.
If you’d like to learn more about the church, Napoleon.org has some great information on it.