Thursday, September 5, 2013

Paris: Churches and Cathedrals

Chartres Cathedral
If you are a longtime reader of this space, you know that N. loves churches, chapels, and cathedrals, and we saw many in Paris, although there are many more we didn't get to and wished we had. We didn't approach this very systematically, and we realized near the end of our trip that we didn't go to some important churches.  But we tried not to feel sad about this and to hope that we may have another opportunity some day to see more.

We toured Notre Dame du Paris, Saint Paul-Saint Louis in the Marais, Sainte-Chapelle, the Pantheon, Saint-Eustache, Sainte-Trinité, St. Germain des Pres, Saint-Sulpice, Notre Dame du Travail, Sainte-Chapelle de Vincennes, Saint-Laurent, and the Basilica of Saint-Denis.  We also took a day trip by train to see Chartres Cathedral. 
N. was very excited to see Chartres, which has long been a favorite, but was a bit disappointed to discover the choir had been remodeled in the seventeenth century in a baroque style quite at odds (it seemed to us) with its Gothic nave. But the medieval stained glass is stunning, and the overall structure of the cathedral is gorgeous.

We had a some favorites among the Paris churches.  Saint-Eustache is a beautiful compact Gothic structure with an amazing organ, which we heard a bit of while we toured the building.  We loved both Sainte-Chapelle and Sainte-Chapelle de Vincennes.  N. and I admired Saint-Sulpice.  We all  really loved Notre Dame du Travail, an 1899 parish church built in a workers' neighborhood from the repurposed metalwork of the Palace of Industry of the 1855 World's Fair.  N. read about it in an architecture guidebook I'd bought and insisted we seek it out.  Tim and I were skeptical, since it seemed a waste of time to visit a 19th-century church when there were so many much older buildings to see.  But it turned out to be unforgettable as a building and as a spiritual space.

Near the end of our stay in Paris we took a long metro ride north to the Basilica of Saint-Denis, the burial place of French kings and queens throughout the ages.  It is an amazing early Gothic structure and we found it much more luminous and lovely than Chartres or Notre Dame.
Notre Dame du Travail
Sainte-Chapelle de Vincennes
St. Denis

1 comment:

Adrienne Pilon ("A") said...

So fun to visit these spaces with you!