Welcome to my blog that unites my two passions: French and travel. Today, we are going to do something slightly different – we are not going to visit a city as such, but rather a part of it. A part of Paris, to be exact, and we are going to explore four of its beautiful churches: Notre-Dame (Our Lady), Sacré- Coeur (Sacred Heart), la Sainte-Chapelle (the Holy Chapel) and the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal (la Chapelle de Notre-Dame de la Médaille Miraculeuse).
The cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris is situated on the eastern side of the Ile-de-la Cité. It is considered the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in the world and is the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Paris. The site on which it is built has always been a religious centre – the Celts had their sacred ground here, the Romans built a temple to Jupiter, a Christian basilica was built in the 6th century and a Romanesque church occupied the site before the construction of Notre-Dame began in 1163 (and finished in 1345). The cathedral was built to reflect the status of Paris as the capital city of France. It became the prototype for all future cathedrals in France, such as the cathedrals of Reims, Amiens and Chartres. The cathedral of Notre-Dame has had an eventful history: Crusaders prayed here before leaving for the Crusades, Napoleon crowned himself emperor and Josephine his empress in Notre-Dame. It was looted and damaged during the French Revolution. It was only thanks to the author, Victor Hugo (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame) and other artists of the 19th century that the cathedral’s value was recognised and restoration begun.
The Sacré -Coeur is situated in Montmartre (Mount of Martyrs). The story behind the building of the Sacré-Coeur is quite interesting. Its first stone was laid in 1875. The construction of the basilica came about as a result of a national vow. After the 1870 Franco-Prussian War (France was defeated), it was decided to begin “the project to build a church in Paris dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as a sign of penitence, trust, hope and faith”. The church was built in the Romano-Byzantine style, unlike Notre-Dame’s gothic architecture. From its forecourt one can see the entire city of Paris. At its consecration, it was decided to call it the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. A Catholic basilica is a place of pilgrimage like St. Peter’s in Rome.
La Sainte Chapelle is a 13th century gothic church which stands on the Ile-de-la-Cité. It was built as a chapel for his palace by King Louis IX (Saint Louis). It was also designed to house holy relics. Building started in 1246 and completed in 1248. There is an Upper Chapel and a Lower Chapel. The latter is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The Chapel was vandalised during the French Revolution and only restored during the 19th century. The most beautiful aspect of the Sainte Chapelle are its stained-glass windows which illustrate figures of the Bible. It is impossible to capture the wonderful blues of the stained-glass. I tried countless times but it is a futile exercise. The interior is elegantly simple and has an air of fragile beauty. The Sainte Chapelle, which was classified as a National Historic National Monument in 1862, is now a museum.
The Chapelle Notre-Dame de la Médaille Miraculeuse is hidden away in a small side street near the Bon Marché Store at 140 Rue du Bac. It is a real gem and well worth the visit. It is a place of pilgrimage but also a functioning church where Mass is said regularly. Catherine Labouré was a novitiate at the seminary built on the Rue du Bac. The chapel was built on the site in 1815. In 1830, the Virgin Mary appeared to Catherine three times. During the third apparition, the Blessed Virgin asked Catherine to have a medal made with the words “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you”. The reverse side of the medal was to have the letter M surmounted with a little cross and two hearts, one crowned with thorns and the other pierced with a sword, below. Anyone who wore the medal and prayed for graces would receive them.
We’ve learned the vocabulary of fruit in French, so how about vegetables?
les légumes = vegetables legumes
l’asperge = asparagus asperge
la betterave = beetroot betterave
le broccoli = broccoli brocoli
la carotte = carrot carotte
le champignon = mushroom champignon
le chou-fleur = cauliflower chou-fleur
le chou = cabbage chou
les épinards = spinach épinards
les haricots verts = green beans haricots verts
la laitue = lettuce laitue
l’oignon = onion oignon
le poivron = pepper poivron
la pomme de terre = potato pomme de terre
les petits pois = peas petits pois
je voudrais un kilo de carottes = I would like a kilo of carrots je voudrais un kilo carottes
je voudrais deux kilos de pommes de terre = I would like two kilos of potatoes je voudrais deux kilos pommes de terre