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9. Notre-Dame-des-Missions-du-Cygne d'Enghien, Épinay-sur-Seine, a master-piece of sacred art

Cardinal-red in red suburbs. Le Cygne d'Enghien and the Tonkin. The (universal) Exhibition and the mish-mash (artistically conceived and measured).

© W.Vainqueur
© W.Vainqueur

An eclectic architectural style to allude to civilisations from overseas : Notre-Dame-des-Missions-du-Cygne d'Enghien is different from other religious buildings of the same period mainly in the material used to build it: reinforced concrete but also because of the amazing accumulation of styles brought together by its architect, Paul Tournon.

The pavilion for catholic missions of the 1931 Universal Exhibition of Paris, dedicated to overseas missions, the church was dismounted the following year and rebuilt in Épinay-sur-Seine. It mixes the architectural styles from the five continents: the porch's façade is covered in Chinese ideograms, curved angles in the attic, of Buddhist, fetishist and African inspiration, bell tower reminding the shape of a minaret, etc.Two hundred square meters of stain-glass windows created by the best glass-blowers of the era, some paintings mainly by Maurice Denis, the leader of the aesthetic movement of the Nabis and by his pupils. A remarkable reminder of the religious architecture of the 1930s, the site was listed as historical building in 1994.

The church owes the first part of its name – Notre-Dame-des-Missions – to the fact that the main aim of the colonial Exhibition's pavilion was to promote the missionaries role in converting the colonies; the second part of its name - du Cygne d'Enghien – to the name of the area in Épinay where it was rebuilt. It belongs to the " Chantiers du cardinal ", an Christian operation aiming to
" convert the red areas to Christianity " : between 1931 and 1940, the Cardinal Verdier oversees the contruction of one hundred and two churches in the Parisian suburbs.

Restoration works were undertaken in 2007, whilst some are still ongoing.

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Useful information

Notre-Dame-des-Missions-du-Cygne d'Enghien
102, avenue Joffre
93800 Épinay-sur-Seine

General Information

Office de tourisme de Saint-Denis Plaine Commune
+33 (0)1 55 870 870
1, rue de la République
93200 Saint-Denis

Getting there

By RER C : Épinay-sur-Seine
By Bus 154, 354 : Cygne d'Enghien
By car : link to interactive map

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