Sunday, September 24, 2006

The oldest church in Paris

Saint Germain is said to be the oldest church in Paris. It's been destroyed several times throughout history (especially by the wicked vikings!), so only some parts of it still belong to the original building that was erected between 511 and 538. What's interesting is that for a very long time it was the parish of the Saint Germain burrough, which until the 17th century, was a small village on the outskirts of Paris. Nowadays, this is part of the city center!


  1. The Roman Emperor Hadrian returned from conquering Europe. "Fellow Romans" he cried "I return, victorious, having slewn 50,000 Gauls in battle". Avoice pipes up from the crowd "Your a liar, Caesar, everyone knows that you only smote 25,000 this time!" "Ah yes," said Hadrian "but everyone knows that in Europe away gauls count double".

    There are a lot of people reading this who probably can't make head nor tail of that.

  2. I love seeing pictures of places I've seen in Paris! I ove that the 6th and the 7th! I have a pretty good night photo of it.

    By the way, what is the name of the cafe, bistro, brasserie (please someone explain the difference between those three) in front of it? I ate there late one night and it was directly across from it.

    Can anyone help me?


  3. Susan: Sorry, can't help. To me, all these names mean the same thing, although perhaps I associate "brasserie" more with beer than the other 2 names.

    Maybe you ate at Cafe Flore: check out

    to see if that rings a bell.

    Eric: your picture immediately triggered this song ... Maybe Michael or someone can find us a direct link to the music? It might be public domain by now, no?

  4. Dramatic photo.
    Taken from this angle,and with the contrast of the soft sky, the steeple apears to be falling forward. You almost want to put your hands out in front of you for safety.
    very cool effect.

  5. Thanks Tomate!

    But I cannot tell if that's it or not. If you are facing the clock on the tower, the place is directly behind you. All I remember are wood floors, waiters in tuxedos, and that's about it!

  6. Lipp?

  7. the contrast between background and church. Love the clock and the the the bricks...Oh I just love it! (betcha couldn't tell!)

  8. Susan: Sorry, I don't really remember it that clearly. I used walk through these streets all the time, but that was a such a LONG time ago. Could it be Les Deux Magots? Don't worry, I'm sure one of the Parisians will answer you on Monday morning! :)

  9. The one facing the church of St Germain des Pres is "Les deux magots". That is probably the one you have been to, Suzan.
    The "café de Flore" is close but you can't see the church from there.
    "Lipp" is close too, but on the other side of the Boulevard Saint Germain.

    Foe me, a "café" is a place where you can have a drink either sitting, or standing up at the "comptoir".
    In "Brasseries" one can also eat something. So, most "cafés" are also "Brasseries". But some sophisticated "Brasseries" are not cafés, they don't have "comptoirs", and even don't let you get in just for drinking (you have to eat, like in a restaurant).

    A "bistrot" is generally more or less a kind of restaurant.(but in french slang, it also means just a cafe).

    I am not sure i have been clear. Still, i go back to bed without reading again what i

  10. How interesting! It's amazing how a building can stand that long --

  11. Oh those wicked Vikings! I love how these clouds look sponge-painted onto the soft blue sky, and the division of space created by the way your POV is angled. Thanks for taking us to Saint Germain without taking us to tourist-land. You are a master at that! (And Haxo, thank you for your always interesting background comments--rest well!)

  12. As Andrew, I've always been amazed how buildings can last that long!!!
    Maybe one reason is that in Europe you don't have as many earthquakes as we do here in Chile (and in all the pacific coast of America, and by America I mean the continent, NOT USA...).
    Beautiful bell tower.

  13. J'ais toujours cru que c'etait L'Église Saint-Séverin, mais non L'Église Saint-Séverin n'est que la vieille eglise 'coté rive gauche'. Merci pour l'info

  14. I just have to giggle because there's a lockhart commenting today and I'm a total Harry Potter geek.

  15. église Saint Germain...

    even if it's not the oldest it is still one of my favorite... right after église Saint Sulpice!

    Merci pour les photos Monsieur Eric!

  16. One think is sure: the oldest buildings of Paris are churches.
    I always thought the oldest church in Paris was Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre which already existed in the 6th century.

  17. Haxo - where is this church? It doesn't look like Paris, but I don't see the surrounding area.

    Also, I've tried to find it myself, but can't locate the story of the churches along the chemin de pigrimage which I think St. Germain is one of them. They were all marked with a set of seashells (coquilles). Can you enlighten us Haxo?

  18. michael - i just saw your video link on the french women do get fat post. Hilariuz

  19. Hi Eric, thanks for dropping by with the info ;-)

  20. Michael,
    The church Saint-Julien-Le-Pauvre is in the center of Paris!
    It is "rue Saint Julien le Pauvre", on the left bank, close to "le petit pont". One can see Notre Dame from there.
    Behing it, there is the "square Viviani" where there is the oldest tree of Paris (planted in year 1602)
    I am sure you know it.

  21. Michael,
    When coming from North of Europe, pilgrims were coming down the "rue saint Martin" (or the parallel "rue Saint Denis", depending on the century).
    They had a stop at the church "Saint Jacques de la Boucherie" (Parisians started from there i guess), where there is today only the "Tour Saint Jacques" left.
    They then continued on the "rue Saint Jacques" (left bank) where you still have many shells on the buildings along.
    The pilgrims obviously stopped at St Severin and/or St Julien le Pauvre which are close to the "Rue Saint Jacques", and much higher at "Saint Jacques du haut le pas"

    Check on a nowadays' map: the axis Rue Saint Martin/petit Pont/Rue Saint Jacques is still a straight forward line crossing Paris from North to South which existed far beyond the Romain time.

    I have no clue if some of them went to Saint Germain des Prés which is on a different way.

  22. Here is what is called the First Map of Paris realized in 1705 but which represents Paris before the Romains invided it, in the "temps des Gaulois" (Gallic times).
    At the place where you can read "Temple d'Isis et de Ceres", there was a gallic temple, where there is now the "Saint Germain des Pres" church.
    Some say the word "Paris" comes from "Par-Isis" which meant in gallic language "the house of Isis".
    For centuries, an old statue of Isis was in front of Saint Germain des Prés church, but a priest was fed up with it, and took it off.
    [Eric, i promise you, i won't put any other post for]

  23. Thanks Haxo. What I also believe is that the pilgrimage started as far away as Mont St. Michel, but again, I can't recall where I heard all of this. Probably on a tour a long time ago.

    I'll also have to look for Saint-Julien-Le-Pauvre because I can not think of where it is at all.

  24. Please do Haxo, all your comments are always very interesting. I am sure my visitors enjoy them.

  25. Wow Haxo, that's amazing the map link. I can't believe how small Paris was back then.

  26. haxo, the link to the map is truly awesome. Don't stop posting!

  27. Thank you all of you :-)
    Here is the map of Lutèce (Paris) in the 2nd century built by the Romains. It is then roughly 100 years after the previous map i posted.
    There is still a house at St Germain des prés area, but i don't know what it is. Maybe a new temple replacing the Isis temple? Or still the Isis Temple restored?
    Most of Paris is on the left bank at that time, as the right bank is full of mud (except Montmartre on which there was a temple dedicated to Mercure)
    Note this map is not only an artistical view, but it has been seriously realized by people of the CNRS historians/searchers.
    Each street on this map can be explained/justified, and most of them still exist today. There are more information and a larger view of this map in the book "de Lutece à Paris" from Philippe Velay)

  28. I wonder if Quasimodo lived there once?

  29. Here's what I think:

    RESTAURANT: Place for professional meal service at fixed times, expected to have menus, tablecloths and decent cutlery.

    BRASSERIE: Originally, simply a "brewery" (and still used to represent "the brewing industry"). Has come to mean a restaurant without fixed meal times.

    CAFE: Place serving a full range of drinks but very limited food. Normally divided into comptoir/salle/terrasse, often with 3-tier prices as well.

    BISTRO: Eating establishment without pretension. Service may be unprofessional and décor stark. The menu may be a chalk board only.

    TRAITEUR: Purveyor of takeout food, or caterer. May have extremely limited seating, usually none at all. Interestingly, this word is cognate with the Italian Trattoria, which may give a clue to the original difference between a Trattoria and a Ristorante, although trattorias now have plenty of seating.

  30. Thank you so much for your comments on KLDP. 2 days in a row! Wow!

    I've been so busy myself that I haven't had much chance to click as many DPs as I used to. I love the Big Green Man and Demonstrations pt. II photos. 2 different men on the streets for 2 different reasons.

  31. The best of that church is that has suffered too much attacks but it is there strong up!!!

    Greetings from Perú

  32. Bonjour! Hola! Hi y'all (thought I'd throw in a little southern U.S.-speak)!

    Haxo: Thank you. I thought that it was "Les deux magots"....a very infamous place...but I didn't know it while there. And thanks to you and "Stu" for clearing up the three types of bars/restaurants...

    Michael: how did you embed links into this thread? I tried earlier but it would not work here for me...I must be doing something wrong....maybe it is because I use outlook express on my home computer?

    FYI, it is the oldest church in Paris:

    I wish I could insert a night picture I took of it, but I cannot do that either......

  33. It is in fact a very old church. The interior is very nice although the chapels behind the main altar are in a very poor state. When I visited it, I was surprised by the amount of paint in the interior. I know it was costume to have the interior of the churches painted, but most of this was lost in the last centuries. In Saint Germain des près it is still possible to see part of it. I kept the impression of being in a mix orthodox church with some Byzantine golden paintings. Very nice picture for the first zone in Paris that I really loved.

  34. I remember seeing this, I just can't place it in my mind.

    I liked your reference to Oxford Street in the post below. I use to work in Oxford Circus, and it was, without a doubt, one of the highlights of my life. I loved the madness of it all.

  35. Fabulous location: the place in front of the church, and Les Deux Magots. The church is very musty inside, being so old, and I couldn't stay more than a few minutes. The Delacroix museum is nearby, and I think (?) there are some Delacroix frescoes in the church, as in St. Sulpice. There's a fabulous wine shop behind the church, also. Great photo, Eric, of a great and noble landmark.

  36. Hey Eric,

    I know you think I don't always pay attention, but I found a photo you took a long time ago from INSDIE this church. Hallelujah!

  37. We stayed just around the corner in an apartment on our "lune de miel", 11 years ago. I look at this site every couple of days, as the three kids since the honey moon are driving me crazy. One quick view makes wverything all better.