Faith on show
The familiar ringing of Troyes Cathedral bells can be heard every 60 minutes from 8 am until 10 pm. Indeed, there is a long-standing popular saying in France, which goes as follows: “What happens in Troyes? The bells ring!”
There are not one, not four, but 11 Catholic churches in Troyes, equivalent to one for every 5,600 inhabitants. If this same ratio were applied to Paris, the capital city would have 400 Catholic churches. In reality, there is only one third of this number. What’s more, this figure does not include the Protestant temple, the synagogue, the mosque, the numerous chapels and other places of worship. It also excludes the numerous churches that have been demolished or converted for other purposes over the years. One such example is the stunning Church of Saint-Frobert, which was transformed into dwellings during the French Revolution and remains one of the city’s most curious features to this day (Rue Saint-Frobert).
Are Troyens a particularly pious people? This is a question open for debate, but there is no doubt that the population is proud of its religious heritage and its many jewels, including the rood screen of the Church of SainteMadeleine, the glazed-tile roof of the Church of Saint-Nizier, the spiral belltower of the Church of Saint-Rémy, the sculpture of the Church of SaintPantaléon, and the stunning architecture of the Basilica of Saint-Urbain.
The restoration of the religious buildings
Each year over the past several decades, the city has been investing millions of euros in operations to restore its listed buildings, which are mostly religious buildings. This is because churches are as precious as they are fragile, not only because limestone does not adapt readily to alternating drought and humidity but also because the drop in the level of the water table has led to disturbances in their foundations.
The art of stained glass or the “Memory of Glass"
This is one of the most wonderful legacies left to the City of the Counts of Champagne by the artists of mediaeval times. Stained glass reached its zenith in 13th c. The Master Glaziers worked closely with the Cathedral Builders’ Guilds and at Troyes the most famous artists founded their own School in 16th C.
The last known great artist was Linard Gontier at the beginning of 17th c. before the renaissance of the great dynasties of the 19th c. The “Memory of Glass” became a permanent feature of our city.
The method remained the same, while benefiting from the considerable technical improvements such as best-quality lead, improved soldering materials and a palette of colours that had started out with 10 shades and then increased to almost 3,000.
Troyes is a veritable experimental laboratory “in situ” for the protection and restoration of old stained glass windows. This includes the system of protection of certain stained glass windows in the cathedral, linked to a computer analysis system.
The département of the Aube has the greatest surface area of stained glass windows in France, with 9,000 sq m of stained glass dating between 12th c. and 19th c. and Troyes has been called by the specialists the “Sacred City of Stained Glass”.
Good to know
Visitors are reminded that churches are not accessible during services and ceremonies (weddings, communions, baptisms, funerals…).
Note: these times are published by the Greater Troyes Tourist Information according to information obtained from the Diocese and the municipal departments concerned. They are given for information only, are subject to change and under no circumstances have any "contractual" value.