2.6.08

Saint-Etienne-du-Mont


More or less following a straight line between Notre Dame and the Pantheon, you can climb Rue-de-la-Montagne-Sainte-Genviève. The slope of this hill was very early inhabited and had several Roman installations. The street has officially been there since the 13th century, but this was probably the road used to reach a monastery which was established on the top of the hill already by the first French catholic king, Clovis, and where he was buried in 511. One of those pedestrians was the future St. Geneviève (about 420-512), who was the one who converted Clovis and later became the patroness of Paris.

St. Geneviève was buried in a church close to where the present Pantheon stands and the hill was named after her. The Pantheon was originally built to make an even more prestigious site to honour her. (I plan to revert on the Pantheon tomorrow.)

On the print below we can see a church from the 12th century, the original Sainte-Geneviève church. Erratum: ...the abbey church. It was destroyed in 1807, now replaced by the “Lycée Henri IV”, one of the most prestigious high schools in France. Only the “Clovis Bell Tower” from 1180 remains, inside the school premises. The present Saint-Etienne-du-Mont church, to the left on the photo, replacing an older one, was built 1492-1626. This is the church we will visit today. (The statue is of Corneille.)
Especially the interior of the Saint-Etienne-du-Mont church, built to honour St. Stephen, is beautiful in a mixture of late gothic and renaissance styles. Particularly remarkable is perhaps the rood screen (the only one now left in Paris), which divides the choir, where the monks were sitting, from the body of the building, where the parishioners sat (see top picture). I understand that this was the space often occupied by an organ and singers. It’s decorated by a beautiful crucifix.

There is also a very old organ (1633 – of course improved since), a very nice wooden pulpit (1651) and some beautiful stained glass windows.

The relics of Sainte Geneviève (or what may remain of them after the Revolution) have now been brought to this church, as the Pantheon, originally intended for her, has been changed from a church to a mausoleum for the interment of great Frenchmen. The remaining relics are (supposed to be) kept in this splendid copper shrine. Pascal and Racine are buried in the church.

On the way up or down the Rue-de-la-Montagne-Sainte-Genviève you can see where the famous Ecole Polytechnique (“X”) was placed and you have a lot of possibilities of refreshment. The large number cafés and restaurants along the street offer you food and drinks from more or less all over the world (Tibet, Armenia, Japan, Italy, India, Iraq... and France).







Some of these pictures can be found on my photo-blog.

25 comments:

Sonia A. Mascaro said...

What a lovely tour, Peter! Great and competent post as always! So beautiful the Saint-Etienne-du-Mont church! And so nice to have a large number of cafés and restaurants along the streets... all them looks very charming! Thanks for sharing your city!

Neva said...

What beautiful photos! The church is very pretty....you really get out and about don't you? I love it....

lyliane said...

Je ne suis pas rentrée dans l'église, j'aurai dû, c'est curieux cet escalier qui rappelle celui du château de Blois.
Merci pour l'histoire et tes recherches, j'ignorai totalement que Sainte Geneviève était là.

Olivier said...

c'est un endroit tres cosmopolites pour les restaurants, il y a du choix,j'adore quand on peut faire le tour du monde des restaurants, ça c'est Paris.

Cergie said...

St Etienne, of course, j'adore cette église, on se demande pourquoi. Mais je ne suis jamasi entrée à l'intérieur. elel est très baroque de l'extérieur déjà, je ne sais si le terme est bon, j'ai une photo de gargouille faite en passant pour me rendre ailleurs
Cette église a de prestigieux voisins, le jardin duLuxembourg, le P

Cergie said...

...Panthéon et surtout le lycée St Louis où Pierre a fait sa prépa.
J'aime beaucoup ce quartier quoiqu'il soit un peu guindé à mon sens. Pour ce qu'il me rappelle (de même que le cimetière Montparnasse) des livres auto-biographiques de Jorge Semprun (et aussi pour cela le cimetière Montparnasse)
Notamment "Adieu vive clarté"

Cergie said...

Tu serais déçu si je n'ajoutais : quel bel escalier et quel bel organe !
;o)

hpy said...

J'ai reçu il y a longtemps un livre sur Ste G(udule) mais je n'ai jamais réussi à le terminer. Il faut que je vois si je peux le retrouver quelque part afin de vérifier si vous dites la même chose. (Par exemple si vous avez fréquenté les mêmes restos.)

alice said...

Ah, ça c'est un quartier que je connais mieux! Celui des grandes écoles... que je n'ai pas fréquentées d'ailleurs!

Mathilde said...

Bonjour Peter,

Des photos remarquables, j'aime tant l'arabesque des escaliers, et les églises bien sûr, cet obscur teinté par la lumière des vitraux, j'aime beaucoup et je ne connais pas du tout cet endroit.

Bonne journée à toi.

Noushy Syah said...

What a lovely and convenience place for refreshments and dining!..all in one place.

Gr8 pics of the Church...could see all the details..

ruth said...

I like this area. I have a memory that Ernest Hemingway and wife Hadley christened a son in this church?

Marie-Noyale said...

What a lovely church I have never been there...neither in the Montparnasse cemetery ..
I guess next time I am in Paris I will have to stay longuer,if I want to see all the things I make a note of seeing from your posts!!

delphinium said...

Il est beau cet orgue. Sais-tu combien il y a de registres? Et de claviers? Je ne savais pas que Geneviève sortait avec Etienne qui était le pote de Clovis, qu'ils s'étaient rencontrés dans les escaliers à Blois et qu'ils allaient parfois manger tibétain entourés de chinois. (un véritable séisme politique)...
Tu vois Peter, ce que la fatigue me fait écrire. Ce n'est pas bien, je sais. Amen. Bises

Abraham Lincoln said...

Very nice photographs.

Does it take you a long time to arrange one of these posts with all the photos and the text? It looks like it would take several

Thanks for your visits to my blogs and for your frequent comments there.

Maxime said...

Quel magnifique endroit, avec cet escalier incongru ! Cela me rappelle les gravures du Piranese.

April said...

The first picture with all those stairs reminds me of Harry Potter's school. But there the stairs suddenly turn and you go into nowhere ;-))

ALAIN said...

C'est pas un escalier ! C'est un jubé.
J'ai pas compris comment tu as réussi à photographier l'église détruite en 1807, heureusement tu l'a pris en noir et blanc pour éviter tout anachronisme.

Mélisse said...

L'église est fort belle, la prochaine fois, je rentre la visiter ;-). J'ai testé pour vous le restaurant tibétain, comment dire...heu...c'est spécial.

Peter said...

sonia:
Thanks again Sonia!

neva:
Thanks, I do my best (too much?)!

lyliane:
"L'escalier" s'appelle "jubé" en français! :-)

Peter said...

olivier:
Tu as raison! On a de la chance!

cergie:
Merci de ne pas me decevoir!

hpy:
Merci de me donner les résultats de te recherches!

Peter said...

alice:
Quoi? Tu n'as pas fait les grandes écoles?

mathilde:
Il faut peut-être faire un tour alors? A bientôt!

noushy:
Yes you have the choice! Difficult to take a decision!

Peter said...

ruth:
I tried to check, but have no answer. It's quite possible as they lived just round the corner, Rue du Cardial Lemoine.

marie-noyale:
Yes, I guess you have to stay for some time. I have "stayed" for 34 years!

delphinium:
Tu te moques de moi! :-)
Comme punition tu dois trouver la réponse et me la donner! Bises!

Peter said...

abraham:
Thanks! Yes, it takes several... !!

maxime:
Piranese ... tu as raison!

april:
Piranese, Harry Potter... I guess you are right also!

Peter said...

alain:
Oui, pour une fois, n&b! :-)

mélisse:
Je suis allé dans le resto tibétain aussi! Surtout le thé au lait salé m’a surpris !