Tuesday, December 15, 2015


It was over.

With a deft move that blindsided those who wish to counter, COP 21 President Laurent Fabius hammered the green gavel to a standing ovation and officially ushered the era of a new international climate agreement. 

And as it is, I embarked on my usual post-COP journey that brought me to the Church of San Servacio and Chichen-Itza in 2010 after Cancun, the Emmanuel Cathedral in 2011 after Durban, Suoq Waqif in 2012 in Doha which is actually a market because I was not able to find a mosque or a church, the churches of Stare Miasto in 2013 in Warsaw, and the historic center of Lima and the churches that came with it in 2014. 

With a number of possible churches and only a 2-day window, I decided to focus on the 8 most important churches of Paris that Mr. Google can offer.

Abbey of St.-Germain-des-Pres

My journey began through the now familiar Line 4 from Strasbourg-Saint-Denis to the oldest surviving church of Paris that was founded in the 6th century, once known as St. Vincent's Church in honor of the saint's relic that it used to house until it was rededicated in 1014 to St. Germain, Bishop of Paris, who presided over the church's first dedication ceremony in 558 AD.

The abbey today is simply furnished and only a handful of people were attending the mass when I visited, perhaps because the only curio it can offer is the tomb of the French philosopher Rene Descartes.  


A short train ride from there is the "Holy Chapel", a royal church built by King Louis IX in 1239 to house his collection of Christ's relics, including the alleged Crown of Thorns and then later alleged fragments of the Holy Cross and the alleged Holy Lance.

Wikipedia says that the church has "the most extensive 13th century stained glass collection anywhere in the world" which tells the story of the Bible.

Rodney whom we met in the labyrinth of the Metro and came with us to the Sainte Chapelle was actually on his way to the Notre Dame de Paris, which we have earlier visited, for the Gregorian Chant service, which we have not heard, so we tagged along, got ourselves high on the incense and the soulful Latin chant, before parting ways --- he to a lunch somewhere, us to find Napoleon's tomb.

Les Invalides

The Domes de Invalides is 6 minutes by train from Line 4 to RER C, and a long walk on a cold day with nowhere to pee.

We entered through the back (or was that the front) to a complex that was first built in 1670 as a refuge for old and sick soldiers, with a chapel added in 1679, and then the domed royal chapel in 1708.

In 1840, the remains of Napoleon was entombed in what is now the Domes des Invalides which is the former royal chapel, along with several noted Frenchmen including the generals Comte Bertrand and Geraud Duroc who fought with Napoleon, Marshall Ferdinand Foch, and the heart of Sebastien Le Prestre de Vauban. 

The soldiers' chapel behind the domed former royal church is now the Cathedrale Saint-Louis-des-Invalides of the French armed forces.

It was the Arc de Triomphe and back to the Tour Eiffel from there but that is another chapter, another story, because my French visita iglesia continued the next day, solo as it was Ate Alice's flight, from Line 4 to RER B in Luxembourg, to the Pantheon that was scrapped by tired feet and cold weather from yesterday's itinerary.

Le Pantheon National

Obviously, the Pantheon was inspired by the Greeks and was started to be built in 1758 to house the relics of St. Genevieve before the aftermath of the French Revolution in 1791 had it transformed into a mausoleum of notable citizens of France and since then, many have been interred there including the philosophers Voltaire and Rousseau; the writers Victor Hugo, Emile Zola, and Alexander Dumas; and the scientists Pierre and Marie Curie.

A replica of Leon Foucault's pendulum that was first installed under the Pantheon's central dome is also displayed near the altar. 

La Madeleine

Eight minutes away via RER B and Line 14 is L'eglise Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, one of the rare churches dedicated to Mary Magdalene.

The church had a colorful history: it was built on a former synagogue that was seized from the Jews in 1182 where the first church was built in 1722 before work on the present structure was started in 1763, stopped by the French Revolution, and finally completed and consecrated in 1842.

The beheaded remains of Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette were first buried in the grounds of the church after their execution in 1793, while Chopin had his funeral there in 1849. 


Finally, Sacre-Coeur Basilica, the church I almost never saw because I thought it was too far and I was too tired.

And it was actually a new church, having been completed only in 1914, built on top of the Montmartre which is the highest point of Paris, which means an uphill walk from the base of the hill to the church, and another 300 steps from the church to the dome where I took the last frame of my last day in Paris, not just for the sake of photography but as penance for missing our wedding anniversary five times in a row. 

I was doubly tired when I walked down to the Anvers Station for the train ride back to Strasbour-Saint-Denis via La Chapelle and the now familiar gates and platforms of the Gare du Nord. 

But I'm glad I came.

Of the 8 famous churches I gathered from Google, I was not able to go to Saint-Eustache, and would also learn that there is a Basilisque Royale de Saint-Denis where French royalty were buried.

Seven of eight ain't bad.

But there will be another day in Paris, and I got to leave something for another French visita iglesia...

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