Monday, July 15, 2013

Saint Sulpice de Paris

Métro: Saint Sulpice (line 4), Mabillon (line 10), Odéon (line 4 and 10)
Address: Place Saint-Sulpice - 2, rue Palatine, 75006  Paris
Hours: everyday from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm
Cost: free

I have to say that I am usually not a big fan of visiting churches and cathedrals in France because I find them dark and a bit spooky. However, I was intrigued by Saint Sulpice's unusual architecture as well as its Delacroix murals. One of my favorite thing was actually the courtyard in front of it and I felt like I was traveling to Rome for a second.  Thanks to Napoleon who chose to destroy part of the Church to install a fountain instead.

The surrounding neighborhood is also very charming and I really enjoyed walking the streets around the church. We don't actually know how old this church is. They know it existed prior to the 10th century (pretty cool, I'd say) but obviously, it was remodeled multiple times since. The actual structure dates from the 17th century.

Alright so I went in looking for Mister Eugène Delacroix murals. It was right at the entrance, under my nose. If I had not known it was there (inside the Chapel of Holy Angels), I would have missed it completely. So fair warning to you!

Delacroix was commissioned by the city of Paris in 1849 to complete this mural. He worked on it from 1855 to 1861. Surprisingly, he did not choose to paint angels as we can imagine them (cute and peaceful aka angelic) but rather as combatant and determined. I say why not, let's be rebellious for once!

Just for the anecdote, Victor Hugo got married in Saint Sulpice as well as Robespierre.

Under the Revolution , Saint Sulpice became the Temple of Reason. I thought that was pretty cool knowing that most of the time, the revolution meant destruction for religious buildings.

 And now for the very unique feature, here's a gnomon! A what? Yeah, I did not know either.  It is the part of a sundial (the solar clock thingy) that casts the shadow so to be able to read the time using astronomy. In 1743, the pastor wanted to be able to predict with exactness when Easter should be celebrated using the equinox so he asked Astronomy scientists to install one. If you turn around, you can see the hole for the sun ray on the opposite wall. See it's like visiting a Science museum at the same time!

Hope you enjoyed our little visit to Saint Sulpice. It's actually a pretty cool one. And that's why it is mentioned in the Da Vinci Code (scene with the meridian)!



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