Monday, February 20, 2017

St. Julien le Pauvre surrounds

Just near Notre Dame...

After crossing the river...

You come to the Square René-Viviani,
the perfect place for an unobstructed view of the grand Notre Dame,
and which also houses The Oldest Planted Tree in Paris
(which you can see Here along with its story.)

This square sits just outside the St. Julien le Pauvre church
and is named after France's first Minister of Labour. 
Its location was once the site of ancient burial grounds
and for a time, served as an annex to the Hotel Dieu,
Paris' oldest hospital originally founded in 651.

As mentioned in my last post on St. Julien le Pauvre
the second oldest church in Paris,
it became the home for the Greek Melchite Catholic Community in 1889.
The inscription below from the Third French Republic
tells of its history.

There's something about being down here in the
 heart of the earliest settlement of Paris that makes me feel 
like I've finally arrived.

I can spend days in my own neighborhood
or wandering other arrondissements
but it isn't until I get down here 
to the very oldest part of Paris
that I let out a sigh and think,
"Ah... now I'm finally here!"

This shot is just outside the church and includes a view 
of the church of St. Severin. 

And these two beauties are a couple of my favorites in all of Paris. 
I think I photograph them each time I come down here. 
(Odette is a special patisserie shop
offering sweets in the style the owner's grandmother used to make.
It sells Petites Choux, or "little cabbages"
in the flavors of chocolate, caramel, pistache, café, fruits des bois,
 thé vert, praline, citron and vanille.)

And just across Rue St. Julien le Pauvre
sits this little traditional French restaurant
that looked too sweet not to photograph. 

According to a History of St. Julien le Pauvre,
the original basilica,
known as St. Julien the Martyr
(named for a soldier martyred in the Auvergne area in the 3rd century)
was destroyed by Normans sometime before the 9th century. 

In the 12th century, 
it was ceded to the Abbey of Longpont
who, with his group of monks,
rebuilt in Gothic style. 

It was also close to the University of Paris
and was used as a lecture hall.
It's even said that Danté attended lectures and prayed at St. Julien
and mentions one of the surrounding streets in his Paradiso,

The cage outside the church doors,
all dressed up for Christmas,
holds a stone well once housed inside the church.
In Medieval times, the church was known 
for the magical, healing properties of its well
which the monks charged pilgrims to visit. 
In front of the well sits a paving stone from the ancient Roman road.

In the 12th century, 
when Peter Abelard fell out with Notre Dame,
he moved across the river and set up open air classes with his students in the area.

If you're in need of your own literary pilgrimage 
after wandering through the churches
or along the tiny streets,
just around the corner is the famous Shakespeare and Co.
now even with its own little café on the corner.

Next time we'll visit the interior of St. Severin
with it's gorgeous twisting column.

And in the meantime,
we're only a month from spring now. 
The crocus have already arrived in my yard
and the daffodils are next, pushing up and out. 
It won't be long. 
Enjoy, and bid farewell,
to the end of winter. 

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Concert at St. Julien le Pauvre

One of the churches I ventured into this visit to Paris
was St. Julien le Pauvre.
I hadn't remembered on my last trip here
that it's a Greek church! 

Some of you know that I collect photos of
the Annunciation.
And I found this little sweet one below
on one of the panels just underneath the large cross in the first photo. 

This church regularly participates in concerts
and we were able to make this piano and accordion concert
on the first day of the new year. 

St. Julien le Pauvre
is one of the oldest churches in Paris,
 built between 1170-1240. 
But before this building,
from about the 6th century on, 
stood a Merovingian hostel for pilgrims.
It is said that it stood on the Roman road to Spain
and thus for medieval pilgrims 
on the road to St. James shrine at Santiago de Compostela
(though it was too small to be listed in the medieval Pilgrim's Guide.)

describes how Bishop Gregory of Tours 
was the first to write about the basilica and hostel
in his History of the Franks.

As he considered St. Julien 
to be one of his patron saints,
he lodged at the Basilica of St. Julien the Martyr
and said a midnight mass there.

Archaeological finds determined that the building originally stood 
in the middle of an ancient cemetery
and unearthed Roman and Merovingian sarcophagi and other artifacts.

One of my favorite things in the church was this angel.

The little church looked even sweeter with this lovely piano in its midst. 

And I positioned myself in the audience
to have a perfect view of the angel. 

When we got home that evening after the concert,
we went online and discovered that the angel is Archangel Gabriel,
the very same angel who appears in the Annunciation
and is often associated with  gifts of knowledge and messages to prophets.

Another of my favorites at St. Julien le Pauvre
 shows Jesus revealing himself to Mary Magdalene. 

Next time I'll share a few photos outside the church. 
It's located across the river from Notre Dame 
and just across from the entrance to the Latin Quarter. 


Have been posting a few of my Paris photos
on Instagram as well.
Follow me there for more travel photos. 

(Photos Copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Monday, January 30, 2017

Eglise Saint Alpin

The Church of Saint Alpin,
in the Gothic and Romanesque style,
was built between the 12th and 16th centuries. 

Dedicated to the eighth bishop of Chalons,
it includes his life-sized tomb in the central walkway. 

Just before Christmas, 
one spot in the church housed several nativity scenes
created by different artists. 

Most of the time,
the nativity scenes do not include the baby Jesus
until Christmas Eve.
He is most often conspicuously missing.

But several of these included him. 

Outside, we walked the streets where I
sometimes can't help but take photos of window displays...
such as these Santas and Christmas items made out of chocolate. 

And this chocolate fountain! 

Most cathedrals in any French town or village
include a monument to the dead soldiers 
of WWI.

And below, the French flag 
and names of the "Soldats morts pour la France."

An exceptional building.

The city of Chalons-en-Champagne
is filled with medieval houses
like the one below. 

Next time I'll share some photos of the church in Paris
where we enjoyed a piano and accordion concert.
Thanks for stopping by! 
And unbelievably,
nearly time to say Welcome to February.

(Photographs copyright: Kirsten Steen)
(Info via Wiki)

Monday, January 23, 2017


The little town of Chalons-en-Champagne
(formerly Chalons-sur-Marne)
was one site of our anniversary celebration 
in the Champagne region. 

We knew our actual anniversary
would be filled with a lovely crowd...
So a few days before that,
 we stole away before family arrived in Paris
and before descending on other family members
for the big holiday. 

Like every city in France,
she dressed up for the holidays. 

Most people don't know this
but I collect sleighs.
The Christmas ornaments on my mantel
are always laced with big and little sleighs
 filled with sparkly presents and glittering fruit. 
My grandmother made all of our stockings growing up. 
We each had one with her own little design on it.
Mine was a sleigh 
and I've loved them ever since. 

Below, the sweet little square where we finally found a hotel.
Forgot just how many hotels are closed during the off season. 
And sadly, I missed getting photos of the Christmas market
which wound it's way along a walking street behind the square.
A freezing cold evening so,
after spending the afternoon hunting closed hotels in icy air,
we didn't spend much time walking the Christmas Fair.

But before dinner at our hotel,
we did walk the full square and had a glass of champagne 
at one modern and one traditional place. 
Fun to have one in each! 

Next time a few photos
of the interior of the oldest church in town. 

Til then,
hope 2017 is treating you with kindness. 

How about that March this past weekend!! 
What a beautiful, peaceful coming together of women,
all over the WORLD! 
The Divine Feminine Rises. 

(Photographs copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Trip to Launois in the Champagne region

There's been much said recently about 
champagne helping to deter dementia and Alzheimers. 
A 2013 study found that three glasses a week
can help prevent memory loss. 

So we did our part to save our minds by making a trip to the Champagne region.
One of our main goals was 
to pick up some bubbly for Christmas
at Launois.

So we made a stop at the Launois tasting room and office
in the town of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger,
a village in the Cote des Blancs area
south of Epernay.

A very young pretty woman.
who spoke almost no English, 
served us a tasting of the Blanc de Blanc,
'white of whites' made mostly of Chardonnay grapes,
then took us back to the office.

Though I didn't get many snapshots,
the entire place,
every surface and every space on the walls,
 was filled with lovely things.
And since I collect angel photos,
I had to get this one. 

Since we had family coming in for the holidays
and knew we would be surrounded by loads of people
for our actual anniversary the night before Christmas Eve,
we picked a little town in the region to spend the night,
(which I'll show more next time)
and celebrated just the two of us
with champagne and dinner.

So sweet to steal away and relive some of our travels
during our time of living in France. 
Since champagne was our First Date cocktail together,
it seemed fitting to celebrate with a trip to the region.
And if bubbles will also boost my brain,
then I'm all for that! 

Happy New Year to all!

(photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)