L’église de la Madeleine is a Roman Catholic church occupying a commanding position in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. The Madeleine Church was designed in its present form as a temple to the glory of Napoleon’s army. To its south lies the Place de la Concorde, to the east is the Place Vendôme, and to the west Saint-Augustin, Paris.
The Madeleine is built in the Neo-Classical style and was inspired by the much smaller Maison Carrée in Nîmes, one of the best-preserved of all Roman temples. It is one of the earliest large neo-classical buildings to imitate the whole external form of a Roman temple, rather than just the portico front. Its fifty-two Corinthian columns, each 20 metres high, are carried around the entire building.
Inside, the church has a single nave with three domes over wide arched bays, lavishly gilded in a decor inspired as much by Roman baths as by Renaissance artists. At the rear of the church, above the high altar, stands a statue by Charles Marochetti depicting St Mary Magdalene being lifted up by angels.
The Madeleine is a parish of the Archdiocese of Paris. Masses and other religious services are celebrated daily. Funerals and weddings in Paris are still celebrated here. In the basement of the Church (entrance on the Flower Market side) is The Foyer de la Madeleine. Typical of various foyers run by religious and civic groups throughout France, the Madeleine is the home of a restaurant open from Monday to Friday 11:30 am to 2:00 pm except holidays, school vacations and the month of August. For a small yearly subscription fee one can dine under the vaulted ceilings on a three course French meal served by volunteers for a very small sum. After dining one can take coffee in a lounge at the far end of the foyer for one of the cheapest espressos in Paris. The walls of the Foyer are often decorated by local artists
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