Owing to a nasty sprained ankle (yes don’t run in heels ladies) and a chest infection and a cough there has been a delay in the next part of what I got up to in Paris. I can’t believe that it is over a 3 weeks since I was there. Today seemed like a good day to publish part 2 owing to the date. Happy Bastille Day – Vive La France!
So after I left the Patheon de France, I could see the Eiffel Tower down an avenue ahead. However my attention had been caught else where; while I was looking for the Patheon, I saw a beautiful medieval church close to the great monument. This was going to be my next place to explore and the treasures that the church was to hold sent a shiver up my spine.
The church I visited was called St Etienne Du Mont. The exterior reminds me of some of the stunning churches in Venice. One of my passions are old churches, although I have a struggle to find a happy place between my thoughts and feeling on god life and religion I find religious spaces peaceful places and calming for the soul.
St Etienne Du Mont started life as an abbey dedicated to Paris’ saint, Genevieve. The saint was buried near the site in the 6th century. The current church was created in stages over many years here are some of the facts:
- The bell tower was first sketched in 1494 by Parisian architect Stephen Viguier
- The Bells were first cast in 1500
- Construction was started in 1517 and completed in 1627
- The church holds the last Jube in France.
A Jube is a gallery that holds the choir away from the Nave of the church. It was also were scriptures were read from before Pulpits were introduced. This church is special as it homes both a Pulpit (constructed in 1651) as well as the last Jube in France. To my eye from the back of the church found it symmetrically beautiful and its spiral staircase looks like something you would find in the Natural History Museum. It was sculpted by Biart Le Pere and the gallery spans 9 metres. The carvings are ornate and beautiful up close you can see ivy, angels, palm trees, interlacing and general leaf and flower patterns, up close it looks like lace. The word Jube comes from the Latin Jube Domine Bendicere (command, Lord, to Bless). In 1735 the parishioners themselves wanted this beautiful piece of architecture destroyed I for one am glad that they failed.
The jube is not the only treasure that this church processes. There is a stunning carved pulpit held up by a carved lion and Samson the elaborated carved dark wood is has biblical scenes and angels and is topped with a wooden umbrella like roof.
Near the rear of the church there are some stunning stained glass windows which depict scenes of Paris including an image of the actual church and others with biblical scenes. The church is also the resting place of the relics of the first of Paris’ patron Saints, St Genevieve she is entombed in a gold caged stone tomb in a carved side alter. The church is also the last resting place of Pascal buried behind the Choir.
I managed to spend a full hour in there and it was 1pm so from there I headed to do some shopping on the Champs Elysees. There is nothing like perfume shopping in Paris followed by lipstick and make up and underwear and bag shopping. I was surprised at how fast I managed all on my list.
From there I moved on to Cite to head to my second favourite eatery in Paris Café Notre Dame a stones through from the grand cathedral. As always I had a long lunch of roast chicken and chips but this is spit roast chicken tender and juicy, the chips crispy and delicious with amazing gravy. This of course accompanied by Breton cidre and polished off by an espresso.
Its 3.30 and the weather is as it is supposed to be warm and sunny. No trip to Paris is complete with out visiting Notre dame. The cathedral has seen so much history if walls could talk or even the gargoyles what tales they could tell from royal weddings to revolution tales it’s a magical place. For the first time I had to queue to get in but thankfully it looked worse than it was. The dark cool space is lit by the dancing light from the amazing rose stain glass windows. The gothic vaulted roofs makes me think of monks. I stopped to light a candle by Joan of Arc, after she was made a saint in the very early 20th century after years of being vilified she also became one of Paris’ patron Saints. I sat and found my thoughts for 20 minutes drinking in the atmosphere.
At 5pm it was too early to head back to get ready for dinner with friends so I decided to head to one more church, St Eugene St Cecile. En route I stopped for espresso & macaroon a must and eventually found the church. Outside little boys played football careful not to kick it against the church or the people. The church is situated in the back streets of a housing area and unlike the grand exterior of Notre Dame and St Etienne Du Mont this was plain but don’t be fooled as soon as you enter you see a kaleidoscope of colour. Posts walls roofs and windows are a riot of colour. It was the smallest of the three churches but also the most colourful. It reminded me of images of the Catholic cathedral in Birmingham made by Pugin.
After half an hour I retraced my steps to the main road and went to a small playground to watch the small children play and work out how to return back to Montparnesse. I arrived back and changed for dinner putting my new earrings and perfume to good use. I met my friend at the metro exit and we ate in my favourite place to eat in Paris a Breton Creperie 2 doors down from my hotel. All food is served on a crepe. We drank cidre du Breton out of stone ware cups with no handles. My crepe was made with brown flower and had smoked salmon and spinach. It was delicious with the plain green salad. For afters we shared a chocolate and hazelnut and cream filled crepe with Ice cream and sat until we finished are drinks catching up on gossip. I love the night life of Paris every night of the week people go out. The quality of life is far better than ours. The Parisians know how to enjoy life. They eat well, drink well but apart from the young you see very few drunks.
The next day was Saturday and I was woken early by the sound of the market setting up. The market at Montparnesse sells everything from pants and bras to bags cheese, fruit and veg so fresh and big and smells lovely, to cider to watches. It was a riot of smells. I brought an apple that was the size of a baby’s head and a few bottles of Breton cider.
I went back to usual café for breakfast and finished my book over a second coffee until returning to my hotel to check out and leave my bag.
Behind my hotel there is a second metro station that I have never used and decided to take a trip on the metro and see where it took me. The metro station was Edgar Quinet. Little did I know but the line brought me right to the Eiffel tower! Well I had a stroll and wonder and sat in the park. I then decided to head back to the Champs Elysees and walk up the Avenue Montaigne, the home to every big fashion label. It was the original home to Channel and Dior. This is also where the Champs Elysees Theatre is it is a spectacular Deco building truly stunning.
I was just heading back to the Champs Elysees when my plans for the afternoon before getting the last train back to London were interrupted by the start of Travellers Tummy. I decided lunch would help. I had pasta and bread and a coffee but unfortunately this only made me feel better for about 20 minutes before I began toilet hopping. Eventually I collected my bag from my hotel and sat in a internet café close to the toilet. Thank goodness for youtube.
So today July 14th I am in Paris in spirit thinking of one of most beautiful cities in the world. Happy Bastille Day