27 septembre 2005
In the 5e arrondissement, on Montagne St-Genèvieve very near le Panthéon is l'église Saint-Etienne-du-Mont. Le Panthéon, itself once a church, is now more widely known, in no small measure because it houses Foucault's Pendulum. But Saint-Etienne-du-Mont (Saint Stephen of the Mountain) was here first. There was once an abbey here, founded by Clovis (the first king of France) and later dedicated to St. Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris. St. Geneviève in 451 encouraged the residents of what is now Paris to stand up against the invasion of Attila the Hun. Such was the fame of this popular saint that the abbey proved too small to accommodate the pilgrimage crowds. Now part of the Lycée Henri IV, the Tour de Clovis (Tower of Clovis) is all that remains of the ancient abbey -- you can see the tower from rue Clovis. Today the task of keeping St. Geneviève's cult alive has fallen on this church. The interior is Gothic, an unusual style for a 16th-century church. Building began in 1492 and was plagued by delays until the church was finally finished in 1626. Besides the patroness of Paris, such men as Pascal and Racine were entombed here. St. Geneviève's tomb was destroyed during the Revolution, but the stone on which her coffin rested was discovered later, and her relics were gathered for a place of honor at St-Etienne. The church possesses a remarkable early-16th-century rood screen: Crossing the nave, it is the only remaining rood screen in Paris, and one of the very few remaining anywhere in Europe. In the wake of the Reformation, rood screens fell from favor as elements in church architecture as a result of the liturgies becoming more open and involving the congregation. Seeing the marvelous rood screen alone justifies the visit to this beautiful church. Another treasure here is a wood pulpit, held up by Samson, clutching a bone in one hand, with a slain lion at his feet. The fourth chapel on the right when you enter contains impressive 16th-century stained glass. The St. Etienne parish was formed in the 6th century from the St. Geneviève Abbey and using the crypt of the abbey. In the 13th century, a separate church was built on the north side of the abbey. Because of the ever growing number of parishioners, a new church was needed and its construction began in 1491. The successive stages of construction explain the various architectural styles found in this church, one of the most uncommon churches in Paris. The vaults of the apse and the bell tower were built in 1491, the chancel in 1537, the gallery in 1545, and the vaults of the nave and the transept were completed in 1580. The bell tower was raised in 1624 and the portal was built in 1610. The demolition of the Abbey church, in 1807, disturbs the balance of its façade. This stunning pyramidal façade, work of Claude Guérin, that was well matched with St. Geneviève’s where the general Gothic lines are cleverly harmonized with Renaissance ornamentation, is flanked, on the north side, with a tin bell tower topped by a lantern with an openwork design. Its decoration, completely destroyed during the Revolution, was reconstructed in 1861 by Victor Baltard, the architect who in 1872 built the marvelous glass and steel structure at the central market in the 1eme, forum des Halles (torn down in 1970). The interior is 223 feet (68 meters) long. It is made up by a five-bay nave with very high sides and lateral chapels. The chancel is surrounded by an ambulatory and chapels. The pillars dividing the nave from the aisles are encircled halfway up by a bold railing. The one from the chancel connects to the rood screen, built in 1545, probably by Pierre Beaucorps. It is an architectural daring and a charm almost oriental with its spiral stairs wrapped around the pillars at the crossing. This gallery divides the church almost in halves and demarcate the two main construction periods: the Gothic chancel and the Renaissance and almost Classic nave where we find a sumptuous pulpit dating back to the 17th century. Behind the chancel, there is a small mass grave where openings are closed by beautiful glass paintings from the 17th century combined to stained glass windows from the 16th century constitute one of the main splendours of this church. Saint-Etienne-du-Mont can boast that composers César Franck and Maurice Duruflé have been among her chief organists. Duruflé, whose wife, Marie-Madeleine, was also an organist, lived just down the hill toward la Seine from Saint-Etienne-du-Mont.
23 septembre 2005
Les sites de Paris: place du Châtelet
The place du Châtelet owes its name to an ancient fortress, the Grand Châtelet, built for defending the Pont (bridge) au Change which it overlooked, but it was then destroyed under the rule of Napoléon I. The square's present aspect, however, is due to Napoléon III who came to power in 1852. Much of the current character of Paris is due to Napoléan III and his prefet de Paris, Baron Haussmann. Napoléan III and Hausmann virtually rebuilt Paris. In the centre of the square, there is the fontaine du Châtelet decorated with sphinxes and statues, and with foundations from 1858. The column, dating from 1808, was erected in remembrance of Napoléon I's victories. The picture I linked to really does not do the monument justice. The river Seine is immediately south of the square, rue de Rivoli, one of the most famous streets in Paris forms the north border of the square. Across the square on the east is the Théâtre du Châtelet. The picture of the theatre was taken from rue de Rivoli.
22 septembre 2005
Encore: Musique dans le Métro
Yesterday, I had to return to the Association of Americans Residing Overseas (A.A.R.O.). I took the same route on the Métro as on Monday. In the morning in the salle de correspondence at the Métro stop Franklin D. Roosevelt was an oboist - playing Bach. That put a smile on my day. Later, returning from A.A.R.O. and in the same salle de correspondence at Franklin D. Roosevelt was the accordian player I saw on Monday. He recognized me and immediately launched into Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, playing it just as skillfully as on Monday. This also put a smile on my day. I popped 5 Euros into his coin box, and I think that put a bit of a smile on his day. In response to my original post about Musique dans le Métro, "Pastor V" wrote that he has a streaming audio classical music programme every Friday from 9 a.m. till 12 noon (EDT- U.S.), which is 15:00 - 18:00 ici en Paris. Louis la Vache dit: quatre etoiles - regardez-la!
21 septembre 2005
Louis la Vache Parraine une Vache Normande!
Louis la Vache Adopts A Norman Cow!
As a welcome to la belle France, Jacques,one of my friends in France, mailed me a card from Fromagerie Graindorge - a cheesmaker in Normandie - with which I can "adopt" une vrai vache Normande! Alors!, bien sûr! Louis la Vache must not decline this offer, en particulier with his Norman heritage! Jacques had even found une timbre-poste avec l'image d'une vache - a postage stamp with the image of a cow!