Art / Tourism / Travel

Often Overlooked: Église de Saint Sulpice

I think it’s fair to say most of us develop certain habits when our lives fall into a schedule. We get up at the same times, know when we can sit for a few more minutes with coffee and when it’s time to scramble for shoes and keys and get out the door, and take the same route to work. That last one is a big habit of mine–once I’ve picked out the most convenient route to get somewhere, I rarely diverge from it during my daily life. Luckily my time in Paris offered a lot of extra, non-packed hours of roaming, and one day a friend and I meandered literally just a few blocks east of my usual routes in my general neighborhood, and stumbled upon a MASSIVE structure very different looking from most that you see in Paris.

Obviously it was a church, because…well…Paris. (Also a friendly sign confirmed this for us.) We didn’t have time that particular day to go in before it closed, but I was intrigued by this supposed “Église de Saint Sulpice” and honestly recognized it–from being on the Eiffel tower. The thing stands well above the surrounding apartment buildings and I remembered spotting it in the distance, so close to my own neighborhood and yet nothing I had ever stumbled across and wondering where and what it was.

Iphone was not capable of capturing the true size here and a small market had set up in front blocking most of the view, so I highly encourage you all to google better photos.

Iphone was not capable of capturing the true size here and a small market had set up in front blocking most of the view, so I highly encourage you all to google better photos.

And then I never went back. Yup. It was a mere 10-15 minutes away from my apartment, but far enough off my main route that I just so happened to not be in the area almost ever. But finally I realized…I only had a couple of days left in Paris. As in…like 3. And I had a few hours to spare, so, why not pop in one day after the gym, just to check it out?

Lamentably, I didn’t have my nice camera with me. I hadn’t wanted to haul it with me to the gym, and figured “eh, well, it’s so close–if I need to come back, I can always do so tomorrow.” Friends, never plan on tomorrow. If you see a wicked cool church that you think deserves a good photo, DO IT TODAY. Because tomorrow you may very well realize HOLY CRAP YOU ARE LEAVING THE COUNTRY FOR GOOD IN 24 HOURS AND ARE NOT PACKED AND HAVE TO SCRUB YOUR APARTMENT WITHIN AN INCH OF ITS LIFE.

Bienvenue, mes amis. Peering straight down the middle. So airy, bright and...just gargantuan.

Bienvenue, mes amis. Peering straight down the middle. So airy, bright and…just gargantuan.

Point being, all of these photos were taken on my iPhone and I WISH they were on my better camera, because this was my FAVORITE church in Paris. And it’s wildly underrated and overlooked. It’s not like it’s unknown–Dan Brown referenced it in The DaVinci Code (he got his history pretty wrong though) and you will most certainly find it on TripAdvisor and other sightseeing websites, but it’s just…not nearly as much of a priority as Notre Dame and the other things to see.

Does this help with scale at all? Everything was so tall. And I swear...there were like 20394820938 chairs set up in there.

Does this help with scale at all? Everything was so tall. And I swear…there were like 20394820938 chairs set up in there.

But it’s so beautiful. The front facade, rather than being all gothic and pointy, is really reminiscent of Roman structures and is just MASSIVE. The inside is as well–huge windows give it an airy, enormous feel. Hundreds of wooden chairs line up down the center and sides with dozens of niches with artwork in the wings.  In the very back , behind the…I don’t know, not really a pulpit, but where the priest would conduct Mass, is sort of an extra altar with the most lovely blue marble.

Looking down one of the wings--every few yards was another niche off to the side where one could pray or go to confession.

Looking down one of the wings–every few yards was another niche off to the side where one could pray or go to confession.

So, in sum, if you are in Paris and happen to have a little time to spare between the Eiffel tower and the Louvre, I would take a little time to stroll through this peaceful, quiet giant and appreciate a different style of French architecture in a place of worship. If I happen to ever go back to Paris, I promise to get some higher-quality photos of my own!

Looking back up towards the front from behind a wall--had to hold my camera over the top!

Looking back up towards the front from behind a wall–had to hold my camera over the top!

Gorgeous altar. The color was so unexpected!

Gorgeous altar. The color was so unexpected!

Annnd that’s all for this Labor Day, kids. Have a lovely Monday!

-B

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