Sospel cathedral visitor guide

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The cathedral in Sospel is the most important historic monument in the village, to the east of the Alpes-Maritimes department in south-east France. It is an imposing monument for such a small town, a reminder that Sospel was once the second most important town in the department, after Nice.

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France This Way review: although the cathedral in Sospel is quite modest in size compared to many cathedrals it is one of the largest churches in Alpes-Maritimes, has an impressive baroque facade and interior, and has been restored in recent years and a visit is recommended: it is remarkable to find this cathedral in such a sleepy town!

View along the nave of Sospel cathedral

There has been a church in this location since the 12th century or earlier, although the only part of the original church that we can see today is the roman style belltower on the right hand side of the cathedral. The lower part of the tower is from the 12th century and the small spire was added in the early 13th century.

The other parts of the cathedral of Saint-Michael in Sospel were built between 1641 and 1672, because the people of the town wanted to show their gratitude for being spared from an outbreak of the plague in 1632 - a story that is engraved in the lintel above the entrance to the cathedral. The upper parts of the facade were added in 1762.

At this time, the baroque style was very popular, especially in Italy (the border with Italy is just a few kilometres from Sospel) but also in France, and the facade of the cathedral is in this style.

The cathedral follows a traditional layout, with a main nave, two side naves, and a choir with a vaulted ceiling. It is 58 metres long and 22 metres high. The facade incorporates baroque style columns and three doors at ground level, two statues in niches in the upper part, and a triangular fronton.

The houses adjacent to Sospel cathedral incorporate elements in the same style, together creating a charming ensemble of buildings around the forecourt and square in front of Sospel cathedral. This space is often used for open air concerts during the summer.


The altar area is the most impressive part of the interior of Sospel cathedral: the altar was constructed in the 16th century and painted by a painter from Nice called François Bréa. This is also in the baroque style, which includes lots of paintings, a painted dome and other decorative elements.

The baroque painting and marble finish to the interior continues along the nave and in the ceiling above the nave. We see these elements quite often in Italy but much less frequently in France.

Elsewhere in Sospel cathedral you can see various other items of furnishing such as the tabernacle by Luigi Printto that includes marble columns and artworks in marquetry, a second altar in the Chapel of the Penitents Noir, statues and other artworks, most from the 17th century.

Choir and altar in Sospel cathedral

Attractions nearby

For other highlights in the town, which include a charming row of houses along the riverside, see the Sospel guide. See more French cathedrals.

You can find more travel ideas in the Alpes-Maritimes guide and the Provence guide.

See also Find Sospel cathedral hotels

Photos of Sospel cathedral

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Between Menton and the mountains, the river and fortified bridge are a very scenic part of the town of Sospel

Sospel guide


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Sainte-Agnes guide


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Peille guide


Castellar is a small 15th century village in the hills above Menton with various historic monuments to see

Castellar guide


You should visit the quiet village of Gorbio as much for the scenery as the pretty historic village itself

Gorbio guide

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Alpes-Maritimes

The French version of this page is at Sospel cathedral (Francais)