St. Severin Church via St. Jacques Street, Paris.

Rue St. Jacques is a discovery in itself. Though it was sort of moved aside when Baron Hausmann changed and rebuilt much of Paris in the 19th century, this wonderful street remained lively and lovely. Walking  past La Sorbonne and PAntheon, parallel to Boulevard St. Michel, I passed a great number of shops, cafés, souvenir stalls and patisseries. Not to mention a huge number of schools, this being the heart of the Latin Quarter. When I reached the beginning of the street, I saw a large Gothic church called Eglise Saint Severin. Severin, I knew, was a pious hermit who lived in the early fifth century. The first chapel was erected over his tomb. Then followed the many changes, expansions caused by the rapidly growing city and the universities and colleges all around. St. Severin is really large, proudly showing the many centuries of its history on the facade. If you raise your head you will see not only the gothic spires and turrets but also the glaring snarling gargoyles. One can buy those little figurines in any souvenir shop which abound in the area. Inside, it is simply breathtaking. Just walk to the altar, them turn around so that you face the organ, and give yourself a moment. The windows date back to the Middle Ages, but some of them are new. No comment here.  The main entrance is purely Notre Dame, or Westminster Abbey, with its arched overhang. The church also owns the oldest surviving bell in Paris; it dates back to 1412, and it still works fine. Definitely a place to visit if you have the time.

it is only a few steps from St. Severin to the Seine River, to one of the many bridges, and to Notre Dame itself. While there are always long lines of tourists waiting to get into the cathedral for a fee, and often impassable crowds milling over the square, St. Severin entrance is still free. The cathedral square in itself is a great place to visit. Even if you don’t intend to stand in line to get inside, you will enjoy the camaraderie, the babble of languages, and the smiles of pure joy which light up every face once people turn a corner and see this amazing monument to human genius and perseverance.

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