The present Church of Saint Roch replaced previous chapels and churches and was built during a long period over the 16th, 17th and 18th century with a number of architects involved. It was finally completed in 1754. The design is a bit special with a series of chapels in succession.
Apart from the fact that the church is beautiful, there are some points which may be highlighted. The Marquis de Sade got married here. Some illustrious people are buried in the church including Diderot and the Baron d’Holbach (see previous post about the “philosophers”), Corneille, the garden architect (Versailles…) André le Notre…
The church has also a special chapel dedicated to the deported during WWII, normally hardly seen inside a catholic church.
Another, maybe less well-known personality buried here is Jean-Michel de l’Epée, a priest who around 1760 created the world’s first public school for the deaf. He did not invent the sign language, but it was somehow rather created by the teachers and pupils in the school and later much improved and simplified. He’s referred to as one of the fathers of deaf education.
A lot of concerts are given here, including at lunch hours all Tuesdays (free of charge).
Saint Roch is also known for an event which took place in front of it, in 1795, when Bonaparte (aged 26) led a troop which killed some 200 “royal rioters” on the steps leading to the church. This is known as a “Whiff of Grapeshot” and thanks to this Bonaparte was rewarded with the command of the Army of Italy a year later… thus an important step on his way to become Napoleon. You can still see the traces of the “whiff” on the front of the church. (I wrote about these and other wall "traces" in previous posts, see here and here.)
There are still some shops attached to the church building. One of them, very small, pretends to have been there since 1638. It was originally a shop where religious items could be bought, then, during some 200 years, a barber shop, now an antique shop.