A la recherché du Saint Germain de Pres.

Having explored Luxembourg Gardens and Saint Sulpice, I studied my map of Paris to see what was within walking distance of the places I already knew, or so I naively believed. Lo and behold! The very really truly famous Saint Germain de Pres Church was nearby! It is considered to be the oldest functioning church in Paris. Founded in the 6th century to house a relic, a piece of the Cross, it was destroyed four times by the Normans, rebuilt and consecrated in the 11th century;  the abbey was demolished during the great Revolution but the church was spared. It was restored, repaired and renovated innumerable times. It is quite modest-looking outside, with some of the original abbey’s austerity clearly present. Inside, it is a veritable treasure trove, an arts and architecture museum, and History herself is felt there.

My map told me that all I needed was to get to Saint Sulpice, then stroll along a short Rue Mabillon, and I was supposed to see St. Germain. Thus I embarked on my unpredictable journey, in the happy knowledge that maps are always right. Well, actually it’s an illusion. I walked via Lux Gardens to St. Sulpice, no problems here. Knowing me, I simply peeked into every street to the left of the square until I saw Rue Mabillon. How nice it is that helpful street signs and directions are to be found everywhere! I confidently strolled along the street… And came to a nice wide cross-street with lots of traffic but no church and no signs in sight.

it seemed a pity to backtrack when obviously my goal was close by, so I ventured forth, searching around and carefully memorizing a few landmarks like Pizza Vesuvio. I mean, any idiot knows that while it’s not easy to find your destination, getting back is no picnic either. Finally I found a sign which said, Marche Saint Germain de Pres. I figured that the eponymous market must be near the church, and walked past it. Another road, a bus-stop which announced clearly, St. Germain de Pres. And there it was! It really is amazing. Inside, there are those ancient 6th century columns, and then a concoction of many styles which somehow all blend in together to form a magnificent place. Its beauty is really beyond words, and yet it is also cosy and homey. One can sit down, relax and think very spiritual thoughts, stare around, study all the paintings and chapels. Entrance is free. It is definitely a place to visit again and again, and the surrounding area is also worthy of research or just enjoyable strolls.

Backtracking was quite easy 🙂


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