Archive for March 5th, 2021

March 5, 2021

The Chapelle Expiatoire in Paris!!!

And let me update a wonderful monument with much history of France and Europe to say the least. It has been kept quiet for many years as not the government favorite monument but it is of the kingdom of France. I like to tell you a bit more of the Chapelle Expiatoire in Paris!! Hope  you enjoy it as I and thanks for reading.

Let me tell you about something historical, sad, and true located in Paris. I have passed by many times on foot, and a couple of times went in, was very moved to see history that can be cruel; then , I have come with the family to talk about it and history behind it.  For those interested in knowing the true France. I like to tell you a bit about the Chapelle Expiatoire. or Expiatory Chapel or Atoning Chapel in English me think ::)


In the heart of the 8éme arrondissement, halfway between the Gare Saint-Lazare and the Church of the Madeleine, on the Place Louis XVI, (29 rue Pasquier), there is an unknown monument: the Expiatory Chapel or Chapelle Expiatoire.


Sosthène de La Rochefoucauld  Duke de Doudeauville , aide-de-camp of the Count of Artois, future king Charles X (younger brother of Louis XVI), proposed first,the building of it  at the end of the year 1815, the creation of a monument atoning in memory of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette. King  Louis XVIII (middle brother of Louis XVI)  had then decided to raise at his expense a commemorative Chapel. He commanded it to Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine . The monument was built from 1815 to 1826.


The traditional manifestation of legitimate Royals of France is the annual commemorative Mass given on January 21th  for the peace  of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette at the Expiatory Chapel, whose legitimists had obtained the reopening. ( legitimists are those who claim rightful blood rights to the true king of France ,Bourbons now in line Alfonso de Bourbon as Louis XX).

A very interesting monument to discover both for its architecture, but especially for its historical interest. Built on an ancient cemetery that received hundreds of bodies during the French revolution, witnessed said about 1343 corps, the Chapel was indeed built in the same place where King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette were buried after their execution in 1793.


In 1814, the monarchy was restored to France. King Louis XVIII, freshly mounted on the throne, wishes to revive the memory of the Royal family. He decided to transfer the remains of his brother Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette to the Basilica of St. Denis, and to have a atoning Chapel built on the ancient revolutionary cemetery of La Madeleine. A monument that will have a dual vocation: Prayer, and Remembrance.

This monument, is indeed a true immersion in the darkest hours of the French revolution, when the terror and executions of masses triumphed over individual freedoms. Receiving every day dozens of bodies, the Madeleine was more a mass grave than a cemetery. In this place were buried the hundreds of Swiss guards massacred during the arrest of the king and his family at the Palais des Tuileries on August 10, 1792 (now there is only the Jardin des Tuileries).  The tombstones that you will see aligned on the sides of the inner garden are also symbolic tombs built in remembrance of these Swiss guards. The guillotine, installed in Place de la Concorde (then called Place de la Revolution), will later operate without interruption from May 1793 to June 1794. From the Royal family to politicians and anyone suspected of royalist conviction, all of them would face  the same fate:   Became unsanitary and harmful, it will be closed in 1794, then the bones transferred to the Catacombs of Paris (where people now treated as a tourist attraction now but none of it) in 1859.


The composition of the Expiatory Chapel is somewhat inspired by the Queen’s Convent at Versailles. From the outside, the building presents itself as a closed enclosure with a gate giving access to an elevated esplanade framed by two cloistered galleries, Petit Campo Santo, an area of isolation and recollection. In the background, a tetrastyla portico with a Doric-style pediment giving access to the Chapel. Thus the plans are in a Greek Cross, and one sees the balanced harmony born of the dome and the half-domes surrounding the cubic massif softened by the peristyle. Three vaults, in the butt of a coffered furnace and illuminated by an oculus in their upper part, contribute in  the central dome also with caissons and lace, resting on pendants. The lighting is natural, only shown by the Oculus of the vaults.  In neo-classical style, the Expiatory Chapel made numerous borrowings from Roman antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance for its realization. Although being a place of worship, you will also notice the discretion of Christian elements, reminding us of the main mission of this Chapel: memory.


Inside, you will discover the statues representing Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. On the pedestal of Louis XVI is engraved the testament of the King written before his execution, on that of Marie-Antoinette with the last letter written to the King’s sister, Madame Elisabeth(later ,also guillotine 1794). The building houses two sculpted groups of white marble showing the sovereigns in ecstatic attitude: Louis XVI, to which an angel shows the sky, and Marie-Antoinette supported by religion. Other sculptures, are a bas-relief showing the exhumation of the King and Queen of the Madeleine Cemetery. Finally, the black and white marble altar, visible in the crypt, marks the exact location from which the King and Queen bobies were exhumed.  An unsung monument of great historical richness!


François-René de Chateaubriand said that the Expiatory Chapel  was “perhaps the most remarkable monument in Paris.” I could not argue really.

You can get there on several ways even walking from afar, I go often by car or train and walk from Saint Lazare station. You have the parking Saint Lazare off rue Saint Lazaire with entrance on 20, Rue de Rome. At the Gare Saint Lazare for many public transport choices such as  metro Saint Lazare lines 3, 12 , 13, and  14 metro Saint-Augustin, lines 3 and 9, metro Havre-Caumartin, lines  8, 12, and 14,and Bus lines 32, 43,49, 84 ,and 94.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The official Chapelle Expiatoire

The Paris tourist office on the Chapelle Expiatoire

The museum pass of Paris includes the Chapelle Expiatoire

Enjoy, the real history of France, a time to seek facts!!! For the lovers and seekers of history , this is a must in Paris.  Hope you enjoy it as we did and shall return when possible to the Chapelle Expiatoire.

And remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!!

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March 5, 2021

This is Paris: Church of St Etienne du Mont!!

And I did a series of posts on the various churches of Paris because they hold the history and best examples of architecture in the city me think. This one is a particular one that is very nice and should tell you a bit more with revise text and links. See the Church of St Etienne du Mont!! Hope you enjoy it as I.

This one is excellent ,very nice quartier and very nice church. The name can be St Stephen’s on the Hill Church in English me think. Another stop you should do in Paris. The Church of Saint Etienne du Mont is one I have written a bit in other posts mix in with many but not done a sole post on it, and well, its about time.  And I admit need to come back for more here, on the list…

Saint-Étienne-du-Mont Church is located on the Sainte-Geneviève hill, in the 5éme arrondissement close to the Lycée Henri-IV , Luxembourg garden, and the Pantheon.  After being briefly transformed into a temple of filial piety under the French revolution, it was returned to her parish church functions in 1801 and has not changed assignments since. The Shrine of Sainte Geneviève,(patron saint of Paris) empty of its relics since the French revolution in 1793 (when thrown in the sewers) with only one piece of bone remaining, as well as the stone of her coffin is now preserved there. The church also houses an organ whose origins and the buffet date back to the years 1630. It is the last Parisian church where you can still see a rood!


The gallery that surrounds the bedside, adorned with twenty-four stained glass windows was built from 1605. Finally the bell tower is raised in 1624 while the gate is built in 1610. The architect Victor Baltard restored the façade of the church between 1861 and 1868. The Church of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont is remarkable in several capacities: it has a rood of finely carved stone (one of the last existing in Paris), dating from the vicinity of 1540 and combining with a perfect elegance the late Gothic vocabulary and Renaissance. Inside the tomb of Blaise de Vigenere, Blaise Pascal, Racine, and Mgr. Sibour.


The Church of Sainte Etienne du Mont stands on the site of an abbey founded by Clovis, King of the Franks (466-511) and later dedicated to Ste. Geneviève, the patroness of Paris. St. Geneviève was so popular in the Middle Ages that the abbey had to be enlarged to accommodate all the pilgrims. Construction on the present abbey church began in 1492 and encountered numerous delays before it was finally finished in 1626. All that remains of the ancient abbey is the Tour de Clovis (Tower of Clovis), which is now part of the Lycée Henri IV.  The attractive church, named for St. Stephen but still devoted to Ste. Geneviève, is located right next to the Panthéon.  The interior of St-Etienne-du-Mont is Gothic, an unusual style for a mostly 16C church.  Along with the patroness of Paris, such illustrious men as Pascal and Racine were entombed here. Ste. Geneviève’s tomb was destroyed during the French revolution, but the stone on which her coffin rested was discovered later, and her relics were gathered for a place of honor at St-Etienne.  The church possesses a remarkable early-16C rood screen. Dramatically crossing the nave like a bridge with spiral staircases on either side, it’s unique in Paris and beloved by many .  Also notable is the wood pulpit, supported by Samson with a jawbone in hand and slain lion at his feet. The fourth chapel on the right from the entrance contains impressive 16C  stained glass. The arches of the apse and the steeple are built in 1492, the heart of flamboyant Gothic style up to the transept in 1537.


The most impressive here other than the relics of Sainte Geneviève are the rood. Towards 1540 the Rood, will be built, in an oval style for the arches and Renaissance style for the enablement, in 1580 the vaults of the nave and the transept.  The roods have disappeared from most of the Gothic Churches, and their use has been lost in modern churches. They served for certain rites, but suspended between the chorus and the nave, they further isolated the priests of the faithful, which probably explains their destruction. Several cities in France still have roods but one of the most curious and remarkable is that of the Church of Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, the only one surviving in Paris. This rood conjugates a Gothic structure with Renaissance ornamentation. The balustrade, a veritable interlace of stone lace, is carved in St. Leu Limestone and its two staircases wrap around the pillars while serving both the rood and the courtyard. Strangely, the author of this masterpiece is unknown when most of the names of the craftsmen who participated in the construction of the Church are known to us. On the other hand for the sculptures of the Rood, whose two figures of young men with ecstatic glances above the doors leading to the choir, the author is well identified: it is about Pierre Biard the Aîné.

However, the Church retains, in the Chapel of Communion , a beautiful collection of stained glass windows painted at the end of the 16C or early 17C. Mutilated and dispersed in the French revolution, they were again assembled in 1834; Unfortunately, there are only 12 left of the original 22.  Among all the works of art, one can highlight the entombment, a group carved in terracotta composed of eight characters dating from the end of the 16C. The author of this work is not identified, but this group, initially placed in the old church of St. Benoit, would come from the French school a chair in carved wood, made around 1640.  Its perimeter is adorned with seven allegorical statues representing the cardinal virtues (Prudence, Justice, Temperance, and Force) and theological (Hope, Faith, and Charity), separated by bas-relief sculpted on the panels telling the story of Saint Étienne. The canopy is surmounted by an angel, surrounded by different geniuses. The pulpit is supported by a figure standing on an extended lion, holding in his right hand a donkey jaw: So it is Samson, a biblical figure endowed with a legendary force, who has struck down a lion (book of Judges 14, 6) and killed a thousand philistines with a donkey’s jaw (Book of Judges 15, 14-17). The church also maintains many frescoes and paintings.

The organs are wonderful indeed and great concerts are given. The buffet organ, built in 1630, is considered a true masterpiece of carpentry. The organ itself dates from 1636. The organ was severely damaged in 1760 during a violent fire. It was rebuilt by Cliquot in 1777, then Aristide Cavaillon-Coll enriched it in 1863 and 1873. Theodore Puget makes improvements in 1911. The House Beuchet-Debierer performs a radical transformation in 1956 at the instigation of Maurice Duruflé. Danin-Gonzalez realigns the whole and changes the console to 1975; Bernard Dargassies performs a lift in 1991 and another in summer 2011. And the smaller one is the Choir organ  an instrument of 14 games, of which 12 are real, distributed on two keyboards of 56 notes and a pedal of 30. Built by Puget in 1902, it is placed on the north side of the choir behind stalls. The transmission is pneumatic. The instrument is housed in a two-storey Gothic style buffet with a high bedrock. Horizontally, the buffet is organized in a tripartite way, A must to hear it play.

There you go this one is a must and the area is gorgeous. Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The official Church Saint Etienne du Mont

The Paris tourist office on the Church Saint Etienne du Mont

This is one of the dandy churches of Paris that I would consider an off the beaten path site and a must to visit. Hope you have enjoy the post on the wonderful Church of Saint Etienne du Mont! St Stephens!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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March 5, 2021

This is Paris: Basilica Notre Dame des Victoires!

And I did a series of posts on the various churches of Paris because they hold the history and best examples of architecture in the city me think. This one is a particular one that is very nice and should tell you a bit more with revise text and links. See the Basilique Notre Dame des Victoires! Hope you enjoy it as I.

Written on churches before in my blog and some just mention briefly, this one deserves a post of its own. A wonderful Church Basilica Notre Dame des Victoires. Basilique Notre Dame-des-Victoires is located at Place des Petits-Péres in the 2éme district or arrondissement of Paris. It is one of five minor Basilicas in Paris been raise to Basilica in 1927.


The basilica is in the Chapel of the former Augustinian convent. The construction begins in 1629. King Louis XIII posed the first stone and dedicated the Church to Notre-Dame-des-Victories because of its military successes, especially at the Siege of La Rochelle (1628).  111 years took to completed it finally in 1740. The convent had a library of forty thousand books. In the French revolution, it was closed. The Church is occupied by the offices of the National Lottery and then by the stock exchange. It was returned to worship in 1809. The conventual buildings, themselves, were destroyed in 1859. During the commune 1870-71 , the church was looted again and ransacked.


In 1836, Notre-Dame-des-Victories is consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin. The abbot creates an association of which one of the first aims is the conversion of sinners. In 1838, the association became Arch confraternity patronized by Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows, approved by Pope Gregory XVI. In 1927, the church was elevated to the rank of minor basilica by Pope Pius XI.

Our Lady of the Victories or Notre Dame des Victoires is a high place of devotion, unique in Paris, its walls are covered by about thirty-seven thousand ex-votos in gratitude to the Virgin. Finally, the Church has a choir richly endowed with seven paintings by Carl Vanloo. Six of them are devoted to the life of St. Augustine. In 1778, Mozart prayed in this church . The total length of the church is 62 meters for a width of 24.50 meters. The height of the vault is 15 meters. The church is in the Classic style, notice the cornice in modillions and roses, and its pilasters of ionic order.

Some of the nicest Chapels to see are the Chapel in memory of St. Teresa of Lisieux ,surmounted by the stained glass showing Sainte Thérèse de Lisieux in 1887, before going to Rome to asked the Pope the permission to enter the Carmel of Lisieux, the girl comes to pray to Notre-Dame-des-Victories with her father and sister. The Sainte-Anne Chapel dated from 1878 and showing the painting of “The Education of the Virgin” (upper part). The Saint Augustine Chapel on the left side of the transept. The six paintings of Carl Vanloo on the life of Saint Augustine were painted between 1746 and 1755. Removed from by the French revolution, reestablished in 1811, they evoke the baptism of Saint Augustine, his episcopal ordination, his oratorical jousting with the Donatists, his homilies before Bishop Valeri, his death, and finally the translation of his relics in Pavia. This collection of paintings by Carl Vanloo is unique in France!


The impressive cenotaph of Jean-Baptiste Lulli.  Lulli lived in Rue des Petits-Champs and was buried in the Church. His tomb, executed in 1687 was demolished during the commune. What remained of the tomb was placed between the chapels of St. John and the Holy Childhood to the left and to the right are seated two mourners representing poetry and music. On the upper pedestal: two statues of children (or weeping geniuses). At the top sits the bust in bronze of Lulli 17C.

Eight windows of the nave follow a common pattern, they are surrounded by a garland with decorative themes. The background is made up of a grey clover-base on which one or two central characters are detached. These stained glass windows let little light pass. In summer, the grand portal of the Basilica is always open to bring a little clarity to the nave. On the other hand, the transept and chorus are still quite dark. The 37 000 ex-Votos of Notre-Dame-des-Victories are, above all, marble slabs that cover the aisles and the transept, but also thousands of hearts, stained glass windows, military medals and decorations. The ex-Votos are in French, English, German, Polish, Spanish, Portuguese, etc. True to the principle of arch confraternity conversion is the main subject of recognition.

The Chapel of the Virgin dedicated to the very holy and Immaculate Heart of Mary a statue financed by king Louis XIV. Beneath the altar is a part of the relics of St. Aurélie, victim of persecution under Emperor Valérien.  Dressed in a white mantle, the forehead girded with a golden crown.  The Virgin disappeared in the French revolution with all the treasures of the Church!!

The lower part of the stained glass illustrates the vision and its consequences. The manuscript of the archives of the Augustinian Convent reports, after the Brother Fiacre had  heard the cry of a grandchild: he turned his head on the side of the voice and saw the Sacred Virgin surrounded by a beautiful and pleasant light, having a Child in her arms, dressed of a blue robe dotted with stars, her hair hanging on her shoulders, three crowns on her head, sitting on a chair and saying: “My child, do not be afraid, I am the mother of God.” On this, the witness Brother Fiacre  flung himself to the ground to worship the Child held between her arms, believing that it was Jesus Christ, but the Sacred Virgin said to him:  “My child is not my son, it is the child that God wants to give to France.” This story came to the ears of the court and the king. The Virgin asked for three novenas in three shrines of the kingdom dedicated to Notre-Dame, including Notre-Dame of Victories and Notre-Dame de Paris. Brother acquitted himself of this prayer in November and December 1637. Ten months later, on September 5, 1638, Queen Anne of Austria gave birth to a son, Louis Dieudonné ( Louis the God given), at the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye (future king Louis XIV)! At court, it was recalled that this birth had been foretold by a religious. Brother Fiacre will devote his life, through prayer, to the royal family, to the poor and to peace and will become famous. It is reported that later, his portrait adorns a car rental office on horseback. They will eventually take its name, the famous “cabs”, ancestors of our taxis. Nice story after all, you find thousands in the churches of Paris.

The Basilique Notre Dame des Victoires has two representations of the vows of Louis XIII a painting by Carl Vanloo 18C  and a 19C stained glass window. Another great stained glass window can be seen on this theme at the Chapelle Saint-Vincent-de-Paul de Blois (17C).  In gratitude for this long-awaited son (Louis-Dieudonné, the future king Louis XIV), king Louis XIII vowed, in 1638, to dedicate “his person, his state, his crown and his subjects” to the Virgin and to renew this vow every year at the feast of the Assumption. In Carl Vanloo’s painting, King Louis XIII,  has his vow, exposed to the Virgin the drawing of the façade of the church which he had promised to edify. This will be Notre-Dame-des-Victoires.

The first crowned statue in France is that of this basilica, on 9 July 1853 at the request of Pope Pius IX in gratitude for the grant of Rome by the French. The organ was executed by Lesclop, factor of the 18C and the buffet by Louis-Alexandre Reigner, Master Carpenter in Paris and member of the Académie Saint-Luc since 1735. The buffet, made of wood carved and decorated in the mass, consists of a large body with five turrets and a positive of three back turrets. It has decorations in bas relief and in round hump, including vases, trophies and musical instruments; The central turret is crowned by an angel who holds an open book on his knees. The light asses of the turrets are adorned with heads of cherubs at mid-body. It dates from 1739.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and recommended are:

The official Basilique Notre Dame des Victoires:

The Paris tourist office on the Basilique Notre Dame des Victoires:

Enjoy Paris ,a lot more to see than on many travel books. And the story is not over yet because Paris is eternal. Hope you enjoy the post on the wonderful Basilique Notre Dame des Victoires!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers!!!

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