St. Gervais, Paris.
Which Way Is East?
Eglise St. Gervais is located east of Hotel de Ville which means City Hall. Rather than trying to follow the Google directions – I mean, did they ever try it themselves, 17 meters here, 152 meters there, and thus about a dozen different streets! Anyway, I confidently walked along Rue St. Jacques, crossed the Seine River and saw Notre Dame de Paris cathedral to my right as expected. No matter how many times I happen to turn the corner and it soars up in front of me, my lips spread in the same joyful smile I see on all the faces around me. Regardless of age, race and religion, humans appreciate this amazing monument to genius and perseverance of our ancestors. I walked along the cathedral past the large crowds of tourists taking pictures, past the long queues waiting for admittance, across another bridge and on to the magnificent huge City Hall. Then I stopped to ponder the same old problem. Check any directions, you always find it: turn east… West… South… North. Sure. But how do I know which way is East?! Why don’t they simply tell us to turn left or right, or to go around the corner?
And then it dawned on me! Now I am eager to share my new inspiration. Ok. The sun rises in the East. I saw a map in my mind’s eye; East was definitely to the right. So I walked around the corner, past yet another long line of tourists waiting to get inside the Hall, and then I saw the church. Its name attracted me for purely private sentimental reasons. I know it is one of the first examples of the Baroque style. Begun in the 15th century, it went through a remarkably modest period of expansions, renovations and decorations. It was mostly finished by mid-17th century, and it still retains all the beautiful stained glass windows, columns, pillars, statues lovingly built then. Besides the architectural wonders, it contains the celebrated little organ which had been used by Francois Couperin, who got his nickname “the great” due to his superb musical skills. The church is really awesome. It is also free, and one does not have to stand in line to get inside.
Getting back was nice. I saw one of my favorite buildings, Conciergerie across the river, and snapped a picture, then obligingly took a zillion pictures for the large group of middle-aged Japanese tourists who all wanted to pose in couples against this pretty background. There is always something irresistible about a river view. Add some nice bridges, lots of lovely buildings on the banks, and you get a picture-perfect memory of your holiday.