Thursday, October 11, 2012

St. Sulpice | Paris Travel

View of le jardin du Trocadéro from the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Our Silver Paris

Welcome to my Paris travel journal,
where I share our experiences of our special journey to Paris.
Please use these posts as a guide for your own travels
to this amazing and wonderful city!
Or simply read, and dream...

On our first, and very adventurous, day in Paris, we not only braved the Métro, the crazy maze of city streets, a bustling organic farmers market, and a busy, hot, and dusty jardin du Luxembourg, we continued following the walking tour book to one last destination.  Remember when we left the jardin, and a street musician played his music box, seemingly just for us?

Well, we stopped to listen for just a little bit, then literally had to turn our backs to him and head in the opposite direction, just for a block.  We spotted this shop on the corner where we were supposed to turn:

La Maison de Poupée, just outside le Jardin du Luxembourg.

This English speaker thinks that's a funny name for a shop.  But of course, it's French.  It looks like there are dolls and tea sets and such in the windows.  Too bad it was closed--though Fernando would not have wanted to go in and browse.  :)

We turned north to stroll up rue Servandoni, a narrow cobblestone street leading to the side of the church, St. Sulpice, which would be our final destination for the afternoon's walk.

Looking down rue Servandoni, just outside le Jardin du Luxembourg.

What a pretty street!  Just a block long, and wide enough for one car to drive through--notice the lack of sidewalk!  We stopped at No. 14 to admire the massive carved doors.  The right door contains a depiction of Giovanni Servandoni, the Florentine who was the principal architect of St. Sulpice.  I took a picture of the door on the left, which was beautifully carved, below.

Carving on a massive wood door at No. 14, rue Servandoni.

At the end of the street, we turned to the left and caught our first glimpse of St. Sulpice.

One of the towers of St. Sulpice

We were struck by the immense height of this church, whose top and towers rose up above all the other buildings in the area.  We read the tour book (Paris Walks, ISBN 0-7627-4160-0) again:  "Inside, check out the..."  Well, I guess we could just walk in.  There was a door right there along this side of the building, so we opened it, stepped into a foyer, then opened the door on our left.  We stepped into the sanctuary.  My reaction:  *breathless*

After the longest time, we slowly and reverently, like everyone else, walked around the sanctuary.

Mural on the wall of the sanctuary at St. Sulpice.

 The organ at St. Sulpice.

 One of the chapels along the side of the sanctuary at St. Sulpice.

Candles aglow in another chapel along the side of the sanctuary.

This part of the walking tour was not really in our sights.  We had no thought of visiting this church, or going inside.  But, we were so glad we followed along with the tour book.  Finally, after a sweet time inside, we made our way out of the main doors of St. Sulpice and walked out onto place St. Sulpice.  Turning around, we saw the façade of St. Sulpice in all its glory.

Notice the two towers in the photo above?  Yes, they are unequal!  This was the result of too many hands in the pot.  A host of of various architects, a great deal of meddling, and this was the consequence!

Have you seen the movie The Da Vinci Code?  St. Sulpice is central to that movie:

It is here that the meridian line crosses Paris, and inside the church is the mysterious gnomon...  The gnomon at the transept crossing is a large-scale sundial.  It consists of a white marble obelisk in the north transept, inlaid with a brass line that crosses the floor along Paris's original north/south meridian.  From this, the obelisk is linked to a square plaque.  An optical device in the south transept window originally focused the sun's rays on the gnomon.  The lens is now missing but, on the summer solstice, a disc of light falls on the floor plaque, and at the winter solstice it falls upon the obelisk.  During the spring and autumn equinox the oval plaque in front of the altar is illuminated.  ~From the book 24 Great Walks in Paris by Frommer's(R), pp137-8.  (ISBN 978-0-470-22897-5)

To get an idea of just how massive this church is, check out the below photo, which I took from the top of the Eiffel Tower.  In the foreground, you can see the gold dome of Église du Dome.  Look beyond, and you will see the two unequal towers of St. Sulpice rising up out of the maze of buildings surrounding it.

In place St. Sulpice, you can see this:

Fontaine des Quatre Evêques, in place St. Sulpice.
(Fountain of the Four Bishops)

I used a little artistic license to capture both the church and the fountain together, below.

I was actually happy to have just skimmed the two tour books we had before taking this particular walk.  The surprise and delight of St. Sulpice were totally worth the not knowing.  And now we know.  :)

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1 comment:

  1. Of course, beautiful photos. So glad you went into that church and could take those. I'm sure it was breathtaking. :)