Church of St. Louis of the French

Church of St. Louis of the French

Church of St. Louis of the French
4.5
About
Closed on Thursdays! The famous painter Caravaggio (1573-1610) was commissioned to paint for this church, where in one of its chapels is his realistic naturalism in three scenes of the life of St. Matthew.
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The area
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Neighbourhood: Navona / Pantheon / Campo de’ Fiori
With three of Rome’s most beloved piazzas within a five-minute walk of each other, the Navona/Pantheon/Campo area may be the prettiest and most picturesque area of the city. Join the beautiful throngs hanging out in cafes, boutiques, art galleries, and wine bars, or peek at a neighbourhood museum or monument. If you want nonstop movida, the streets here are busy with chic bicyclists and Vespa drivers, street vendors, merchants, and locals. There is no rhyme or reason to its winding streets and there's something to see around every corner, so take pleasure in a spontaneous wander.
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  • Razorfish
    Little Rock, Arkansas5,186 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Fantastic Caravaggio in this church
    Another instance of a church containing a fantastic Caravaggio. Many times as my wife and I meandered around the streets of Rome we would wander into an inconspicuous church which had a Michelangelo or a Caravaggio. It was finding the unexpected like this artwork that made our visit to Rome so interesting.
    Visited November 2022
    Travelled as a couple
    Written October 28, 2023
  • MtEverest
    235 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Coin operated light for Caravaggio's masterpieces
    No, the 4 stars is not for my favorite painter, Caravaggio, and yes, the Matthew's cycle is simply amazing. The deduction is for the most stupid idea to install a coin operated light at the Matthew chapel. We were there with a crowd marveling at the paintings, and suddenly, it all went dark! We were all scratching our heads. After some time, the chief husher (yes, he kept hushing the patrons) came to point us to the box on the side. Of course, as on cue it malfunctioned and he had to open the box and turned it back on. Again. What a stupid idea! You want to make money out of the paintings, sure, charge us! Don't install a stupid box that takes one Euro at a time for 60 seconds of light, and more over, not making it clear anyone that's how we can see these masterpieces. Unfortunately, down the road the Church of Augustines is doing the same thing with the Madonna of Loreto.
    Visited December 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written December 28, 2023
  • Tommo
    Melbourne, Australia55,732 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Beautiful historical Catholic church.
    The Church of St. Louis of the French is a Catholic church located near Piazza Navona in Rome. The church is dedicated to the patron saints of France: Virgin Mary, Dionysius the Areopagite and King Louis IX of France. The church was built between 1518 and 1589.
    Visited September 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written January 7, 2024
  • Hendrik_NL
    Vlaardingen, The Netherlands7,837 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Be always alert on beautiful churches in Rome
    Rome has more beautiful churches than you can shake a stick at. So, when walking in the direction of Piazza Navona from Piazza della Rotonda, stay alert and you will encounter the Church of St. Louis of the French, in short the French Church of Rome. It would take too much space to describe the impressive interior, with the famous paintings and the stylish marble walls, so I have included some pictures. As this church is not world famous as the St. Peter in the Vatican or St. Peter in Vincoli with the Moses statue, the church is very serene inside without tourist groups, so sit down on a pew, empty your head and marvel at all that beauty.
    Visited March 2024
    Travelled as a couple
    Written March 9, 2024
  • Baggio1018
    London, United Kingdom275 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Lovely free church
    The church itself and the art work is impressive, well worth a visit. Worth remembering to dress accordingly as we witnessed some people being turned away due to their attire. However, hard to not notice the lights going off when the credit ran out! Just felt so ... strange!
    Visited March 2024
    Travelled as a couple
    Written April 7, 2024
  • Brad
    Hong Kong, China173,724 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Caravaggio Life of St. Matthew Cycle masterpieces
    The Church of St. Louis of the French (San Luigi dei Francesi) is located at the public square by the same name around halfway between Piazza Navona and Piazza Della Rotonda where you find the Pantheon. It is open from 9.30am to 12.45pm and 2.30pm to 6.30pm daily. This is the national church for French citizens living in Rome. It was designed by Giacomo della Porta and completed in 1589 by Domenico Fontana. The facade is tiered with niches fitted with statues of French national heroes. What most come here to see how is the ornate Baroque interior and in particular the Contarelli Chapel which contains three masterpiece cycle by Caravaggio known as the Life of St. Matthew (1599-1600). These are the world famous 'The Calling', 'The Inspiration' and The Martydom' of St. Matthew. Expect a small crowd of art lovers and curious other tourists most of the time at this particular chapel. There is a coin operating machine which is fairly regularly fed by tourists wishing to illuminate the masterpieces so that nice pictures can be taken. Beyond the Caravaggio paintings, the works in other chapels are heavily decorated and fairly nice to view as well. The nave itself is adorned with ornamentation, lots of gilding and a good ceiling fresco. These may be overlooked because of the heavy focus on the Contarelli Chapel but are worth a few minutes of your time as well.
    Visited March 2024
    Travelled with family
    Written April 28, 2024
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as waiting time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

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4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles5,485 reviews
Excellent
4,156
Very good
1,171
Average
119
Poor
21
Terrible
18

Mairwen1
United Kingdom10,953 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2022
This church was high on my list of places I wanted to see in Rome because of the 3 Caravaggio paintings. We were not alone. The paintings draw a crowd.
You will find all three in the last side-chapel on the left (the Contarelli Chapel). It will be obvious because it will be the chapel with the crowd.
A coin-operated box to the side provides lighting for a couple of minutes at a time. If someone hasn’t already put coins in, you’ll need to do this because otherwise the lighting is very poor and the paintings are very difficult to see.
We had to be a bit patient here. Tour groups swoop in and crowd out the small space but they also tend to move on quite quickly. We only had to wait for a short while to get a position at the front where we could see the paintings more freely.
It is difficult to see all three paintings well at the same time. They cover the back and side walls of the chapel so whichever angle you stand at, you can generally only see two of the paintings well.
Even so, there is something very special about seeing them in their original location rather than isolated on a white wall in a gallery.
What you see here are three works painted between 1599 and 1602. They show three events from the life of St. Matthew - the Calling of St. Matthew, St. Matthew and the Angel and the Martyrdom of St. Matthew.
There are excellent information panels in the church (in English, French and Italian) so you are OK even if you come with no background knowledge.
There is also a small area set aside selling reproductions of the works, postcards and books.
NOTES:
Entry is free
The church is very close to Piazza Navona
For those hot on the Caravaggio trail, you can also visit the nearby Basilica di Sant Agostino which has Caravaggio’s Madonna di Loreto (it is only 3 min walk away).
Written March 12, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Christina
Dubai, United Arab Emirates520 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2020 • Friends
This church is a must see when you visit Rome. Located right in the center of the city, it is a special place because it’s the home of three amazing paintings by Caravaggio. Make sure you bring a lot of coins as you will need them to illuminate the paintings. Also while there, look up and enjoy the majestic organ located by the door. Highly recommend if you visit Rome.
Written January 15, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Michael W
Charleston, SC225 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2020
We were staying in Rome near the Piazza Navona. The Church of the French is a short walk from it. The church is famous for its three Caravaggio paintings devoted to St. Matthew. The church is very beautiful inside and decorated in the Baroque style.
Written May 20, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Big_Jeff_Leo
St Helens, UK22,648 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2023
We walked past this church many times and on our last day in Rome discovered that the door was open so we popped in. The Church of San Luigi dei Francesci (Church of St. Louis of the French) actually sits right between the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, You can see the three Caravaggio paintings inside for free! All three Caravaggio paintings are hanging in the Contarelli Chapel in the front left corner of the church. They were painted in the first years of the 1600s and all are centered around the life of St. Matthew. From an artistic point of view, the church is highly French influenced through the representation of its saints and its greatest historical figures. Starting from the facade, you can see the statues of Charlemagne, Saint Louis, Sainte-Clotilde and Saint Joan of Valois.
While the interior, divided into three naves with five chapels on each side and a rich central choir decorated with marble, is a real triumph of Baroque art. In the second chapel of the right aisle you’ll find Domenichino’s fresco Storie di Santa Cecilia, while on the altar there’s a copy made by Guido Reni of the Santa Cecila by Raffaello. Do not miss what is above the door; the amazing pipe organ built by Joseph Merklin in 1881. We are glad that we called in!
Written March 22, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

beachlovernc2015
Leland, NC2,037 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2022
We stopped here mainly to see the 3 Caravaggio paintings. We were not quite sure where they were located in the church but it was easy to figure out- huge crowds. There was at least one tour group and also a group that appeared to be college age students who were studying the paintings and hearing a lecture of sorts. It was nearly impossible to penetrate the crowd but eventually we inched our way in close enough to at least see them. They are huge paintings, very impressive and well worth the effort. While there, one should certainly walk around and appreciate the beauty of the church itself.
Written February 6, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

midway42
Georgia3,375 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2023 • Solo
Located just a few minutes from the Pantheon and sporting a façade fairly non-descript by Roman standards, the Church of St. Louis of the French was built gradually over seventy (!) years in the 16th Century. It is the national church of France in Rome and assigned to a Cardinal, currently Andre Vingt-Trois. After my frustrating visit to the Pantheon (see separate review), I stopped by here on a whim. Entry was free and people were few. The experience was memorable and brief; I spent about an hour in the building, making a circular tour of the chapels (St. Remy, the Cross, St. Joan of France, etc.) and ending with the Contarelli Chapel which contains Caravaggio’s St. Matthew cycle. There was a small gift store and I lit a candle after giving an offering before departure.

This was a free, quiet, and brief visit that also contained some world-famous paintings to boot. A welcome diversion from the jungle of some other sites in the city. Thumbs up.

Written March 30, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Brad
Hong Kong, China173,724 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2024 • Family
The Church of St. Louis of the French (San Luigi dei Francesi) is located at the public square by the same name around halfway between Piazza Navona and Piazza Della Rotonda where you find the Pantheon. It is open from 9.30am to 12.45pm and 2.30pm to 6.30pm daily. This is the national church for French citizens living in Rome. It was designed by Giacomo della Porta and completed in 1589 by Domenico Fontana. The facade is tiered with niches fitted with statues of French national heroes.

What most come here to see how is the ornate Baroque interior and in particular the Contarelli Chapel which contains three masterpiece cycle by Caravaggio known as the Life of St. Matthew (1599-1600). These are the world famous 'The Calling', 'The Inspiration' and The Martydom' of St. Matthew. Expect a small crowd of art lovers and curious other tourists most of the time at this particular chapel. There is a coin operating machine which is fairly regularly fed by tourists wishing to illuminate the masterpieces so that nice pictures can be taken.

Beyond the Caravaggio paintings, the works in other chapels are heavily decorated and fairly nice to view as well. The nave itself is adorned with ornamentation, lots of gilding and a good ceiling fresco. These may be overlooked because of the heavy focus on the Contarelli Chapel but are worth a few minutes of your time as well.
Written April 28, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Hendrik_NL
Vlaardingen, The Netherlands7,837 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2024 • Couples
Rome has more beautiful churches than you can shake a stick at. So, when walking in the direction of Piazza Navona from Piazza della Rotonda, stay alert and you will encounter the Church of St. Louis of the French, in short the French Church of Rome. It would take too much space to describe the impressive interior, with the famous paintings and the stylish marble walls, so I have included some pictures. As this church is not world famous as the St. Peter in the Vatican or St. Peter in Vincoli with the Moses statue, the church is very serene inside without tourist groups, so sit down on a pew, empty your head and marvel at all that beauty.
Written March 9, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Peter C
Island of Malta, Malta2,821 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2022
The Church is located close to Piazza Navona and is world renowned for the three paintings by Baroque master Caravaggio in the Contarelli Chapel. These are truly magnificent! The church also has other paintings, frescoes and a decorative ceiling. Well worth a visit.
Written August 9, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Razorfish
Little Rock, AR5,186 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2022 • Couples
Another instance of a church containing a fantastic Caravaggio. Many times as my wife and I meandered around the streets of Rome we would wander into an inconspicuous church which had a Michelangelo or a Caravaggio. It was finding the unexpected like this artwork that made our visit to Rome so interesting.
Written October 28, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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