Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Oct 14, Part 7 - Rue Monge and St-Nicholas-du-Chardonnet

We slept for about 4 hours, or at least I did. Lee may have gone for a second coffee, but I was dead to the world. Early in the afternoon, which would have been about 8:00 in the morning Oregon time, we went back into Place Maubert to start our explorations. Lee asked if there was anything on my walking tour list that included this area, and there was. It was the perfect question, because it turned out to be just the right thing for a day already half spent and us still groggy and jet-lagged. The tour started with Place Maubert, exactly where we were, and led out of the square via Rue Monge (below).

The first thing we came to was a church: Eglise St-Nicholas-du-Chardonnet. It had begun as a chapel in a field of thistles, hence its name, but it's hard to imagine that now. It's nice to be reminded about how the city grew and what it was like in earlier times. It was hard to imagine a field of thistles here now.

This church is mostly Renaissance - it's kind of blobby-looking and also hard to photograph from most of its angles, unless maybe you cross the street, which we didn't do.

Here's another view from the side, with the front being on the right. It's hard to see from this picture, but the thing near the right of the photo with the big vents in it is actually a tower built in 1625. It took until 1934 to finish the church. Here are some links that show the outside better. On Wikimedia Commons you can clearly see that this is a tower. And here's another view from the front, and a nice image of the famous door on the Rue des Bernardins designed by Charles Le Brun, who lived nearby and may have been the most famous Parisian artist of his time.

One thing I like about walking in the old parts of Paris is that the city has these informational placards everywhere there's something they want you to know about. They're shaped like the oar of a boat (a symbol of the city) and they are, of course, in French. Lee did a good job of deciphering most of them, and I took photos to try and read the info later with a dictionary. I wasn't the only one taking pictures of them. Sometimes I had to take a pic from the side, because someone, or more than one person, was already in front, reading or just as often taking a photo. Sometimes people snapped photos of them over my shoulder. I wasn't the only geek. There must be thousands of these photos on peoples' hard drives or CD collections by now. There was one I did not take a picture of, because a homeless guy was camped under it and I didn't really want to lean over the guy, but that was later on the Right Bank. I guess I could have backed up and used a long lens, but I was exhausted from walking at that time, and ten more steps felt like a marathon. But, back to St. Nicholas.

The inside was nice, but it didn't seem that spectacular. My notes were incomplete, so I wasn't sure which bay to look in for the most famous art. Charles Le Brun had decorated his mother's tomb with a painting, and in turn he had been buried here and a sculpture by the ultra-famous Parisian artist Coysevox decorated his tomb. All this made sense to me when I realized that Le Brun's house was only a block or so from here, and this was the church he attended. Later we saw paintings by Delacroix in a church that was in his neighborhood. You know, when you read the guidebooks or art books, it sometimes seems that the artists just went about salting their art throughout everywhere, and I'm sure sometimes this is true, but when you put the pieces of the puzzle together geographically or chronologically, it shows a picture you don't see from the loose fragments.

This organ casing is supposed to be notable. I tried to get a photo of the flying angel on the right with the trumpet, but it came out blurry.

This photo of St-Nicholas is from the rear (apse end) on the Boulevard St-Germain and Rue des Bernardins. I think it's the nicest view of the church from up close, and shows its "Baroqueness" to its best effect.

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