Bonjour mes petits! I hope you are all well and enjoying autumn (or spring if you’re down under). Today I’m going to talk about Catholic Paris.
France is a Catholic country. For years our family’s (school) schedule was dominated by the holidays celebrated by the Catholic Church, which, although not the force in family life that it was fifty or a hundred years ago, is still a guiding light in modern French culture. Like Italy, La France is dotted with majestic cathedrals and charming chapels, each one a petite sanctuary city in which the traveler and resident alike can find solace and/or a splendid respite from the busyness that is modern Paris. Even the smallest little hamlet has a house of worship (Catholic by tradition, with the exception of Huguenot territory). In my opinion the basilicas and eglises (churches) that line the capitol like a pearl necklace offer an unparalleled insight into the Parisian heart.
For you see, even those who don’t necessarily practice a formal religion seek sanctuary among these lovely unlocked havens. So here are a few of my favorites, places where I’ve enjoyed hours of meditation and a Parisian peace not easily found in one of Europe’s most populous cities.
For starters, there is St. Germain-des-Pres, 3, place St. Germain-des-Pres, a romantic Romanesque refuge found on the bustling avenue near some of Paris’s fanciest shops and most expensive cafes. St. Germain-des-Pres is Paris’s oldest church – its current structure can be dated back to 1063. I’m partial to the St. Therese station on the right for obvious reasons.
Looking for a quiet spot near the Musee d’Orsay, in one of Paris’s poshest arrondissements? Then check out the Basilique St. Clothilde, 23 bis rue Las Cases. This lovely church is strictly old school, with rush mat seats and a ripply, crooked floor. I used to take my children to play in the square out front.
Maybe you’d prefer to do a bit of good while traveling. Then visit the Fondation d’Auteuil, 40 rue La Fontaine. The chapel is divine, and you can pop by the gift shop and purchase some goods that will benefit its orphanage.
Where do you find refuge when you travel?