As well as transforming the road network of Paris, Baron Haussmann set about constructing many its public buildings. It was therefore thanks to him that a number of churches were built, in particular Notre-Dame-des-Champs, entrusted to Léon Ginain, the architect of the 6th arrondissement. It was to be a "restrained programme", as Haussmann wanted a building without any decorative extravagance in keeping with the working class character of the area at that time. But the architect still had to design within a budget that would gradually be reduced substantially.
This drawing from 1864, one of the first designs put forward, demonstrates the adoption of the Neo-Roman style in keeping with the pared-down character required. After the success of the Neo-Gothic, reference to the early Middle Ages was one of the preferred trends in religious architecture. At the same time, Saint-Ambroise by Théodore Ballu and Saint-Pierre-de-Montrouge by Emile Vaudremer were built in Paris, offering more evidence of this trend.
The following year, Ginain proposed a new façade, as seen in another drawing in the Musée d'Orsay. Still in the Roman style, with towers on either side, this one changes the position of the central bay, and the aisles have disappeared, but these two proposals were still noticeably more elaborate than the final design.
The first stone was laid in 1867. At the time of its inauguration, in November 1876, the two towers of the façade had been replaced by a single clock tower. In his Memoires, Haussmann himself recognised that "his budgetary demands […] had forced Ginain to simplify his design".