The Metro station Mirabeau on line 10 is a unique and surprising station in Paris. As two other Parisian stations it has a single platform. But the reason why is not the same: it is due to the fact that only the trains towards Gare d’Austerlitz stop at this station. In the opposite direction -Boulogne- there is no stop at Mirabeau… but at Eglise d’Auteuil, 200 meters further.
When one is waiting for a train on the platform towards Gare d’Austerlitz, one has the surprise to see the trains going by in the opposite direction without stopping as if they were about to fly! Indeed the track is greatly inclined as the railway tunnel eastwards is much deeper because it goes under the Seine.
One can also have a ride in a train towards Boulogne and sit in the first carriage. The crossing of the station Mirabeau without stopping is really impressive, especially when the train enters the tunnel at the end of the slope: Do not miss it! The metro line 10 is the less crowded in Paris – except during Roland-Garros tournament- and one can travel to Boulogne and back being seated.
Back to earth : The Pont Mirabeau of course, made famous by Guillaume Apollinaire; but also the beautiful Eglise d’Auteuil built in a Roman-Byzantine style. And above all I recommend you to have a walk through the streets and alleys of the former Village of Auteuil: its private houses and Art Deco buildings are really worth the visit! Enjoy!
There are more than 100 churches in Paris. So many are beautiful or worth the visit due to their architecture or to the artworks that they house that I would not be able to choose a top three, a top five or even a top ten. For that reason I have chosen to write a post about the most unusual churches in Paris. Two of them are really hidden and off the beaten track and one may have never heard of them. The other three are better known but each of them offers a unique and superb architecture not to be missed. Let’s discover them from the most secret to the most magnificent.
The most invisible : L’Eglise Saint Ignace
One reaches the Eglise Saint Ignace through the porch of the 33 Rue de Sèvres: at the end of a modern corridor one can see two glass doors with the name of the church written on them. The Church cannot be seen from the street: since 1972 it has been completely integrated into the Centre Sèvres, the Jesuite Faculty of Paris.
As its name suggests the Eglise Saint Ignace was built by the Jesuits 160 years ago. Here the altar is located in the middle of the congregation; the seats form an ellipse around it; and the congregation takes part in the celebration. The Church has just been beautifully renovated and is now superb and bright. Yet the 52 windows of the triforium are blind… as behind them are standing the bookshelves of the Faculty’s library.
The last step of the renovation will be the floodlighting of those 52 blind windows by painted glasses of light. Six of them are already in place under the organ and one can imagine what the atmosphere will be when it is over: peaceful and favourable to meditation. I love them… and for sure I will come back!
The Eglise Saint Serge hides in the end of a path, in the middle of a garden and on top of the hill Saint Serge, an unknown hill in the vicinity of the Buttes Chaumont. Its history is fascinating and recounts the one of the migrations in this part of Paris between 1850 and 1925.
In the second half of 19th century many German immigrants came and lived in that area. The hill was bought in 1858 by the minister Bodelschwing who organized a Lutheran congregation with a church, built in 1861, and a school. In 1918 the buildings were requisitioned by the French State and sold by auction a couple of years later. There were bought by the Russian Orthodox Church on 18 July 1924… on Saint Serge’s day. Indeed since the Russian Revolution many Russian people had emigrated to Paris and the building of a church for them had become necessary. The Lutheran church has been turned into an Orthodox one since that time.
The outside of the church is charming and the inside is really worth seeing. One can enter every day at 7am for the matins and at 6pm for the vespers. And on 10 June 2018 a piano concert will take place in the Church. Not to be missed ! The walls, the ceiling, the benches, the stools, the candlesticks… everything has been carved and painted. One is captivated by the decor, the singing of the prayers mixed with the one of the birds, the leaves of the trees trembling behind the windows. One feels elsewhere, somewhere in the Russian countryside.
The most rustic : L’Eglise Saint Germain de Charonne
The Eglise Saint Germain de Charonne is perched on a promontory above the rue de Bagnolet and looks like the church of a village. One can still imagine it in the middle of vineyards as it used to be in the past. As rustic churches do, Saint Germain de Charonne still has its churchyard, which is almost unique in Paris: the only other Parisian church with a churchyard is Saint Pierre de Montmartre.
The inside has been beautifully restored and shows the various ages of the history of the church with a mix of romanesque remains such as the big pillars of the tower; 15th and 16th century architecture; and more recent works such as the organ (1850) or the stained-glass windows (1950). I like its sobriety and rusticity.
And do not miss a walk in the picturesque churchyard: so peaceful, unusual and charming, and offering nice views on the north side of the church.
The most surprising : L’Eglise Notre Dame du Travail
The Eglise Notre Dame du Travail was built between 1899 and 1901 in order to welcome the hundreds of people working at the World Fairs taking place in the neighbouring Champ de Mars. Indeed the former church, Notre Dame de Plaisance, had become too small.
The contrast between the outside built in a traditional Romanesque style and the inside is striking. Both are beautiful but the interior design of the church is what makes it unique: The vaults are made of metallic arches carried by thin iron columns. The whole gives the building an exceptional brightness and lightness. I love it!
Some of the artworks inside are also quite unsual and worth seeing. Three mural paintings in the side naves show patron saints for handicrafts: Saint Eloi (metal workers), Saint Luc (art workers) and Saint Joseph (carpenters). And do not miss the huge baptismal font or the chapel where a pieta and a war memorial coexist!
The most recent : La Cathedrale de la Sainte Trinité
The Cathedrale de la Sainte Trinité is the most important Russian Orthodox Church in Paris. The project of its construction had been launched by Nicolas Sarkozy, Vladimir Poutine and the Orthodox Patriarch Alexis II in 2007 and knew ups and downs, just like the relations between France and Russia.
In the end the church was built, designed by the French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, and is part of the Spiritual and Cultural Russian Orthodox Centre. This Centre also includes on the same premises a cultural, an administrative and an educational building. The Cathedral was consecrated in December 2016.
The outside as well as the inside are both huge, bright and modern. One can enter the Cathedral through a security gate and attend a free and very interesting guided tour. No chairs inside: Indeed in the Orthodox liturgy the congregation is standing during the one and a half hour celebration. And no organ: the choir is standing on the balcony and the hymns are only choral, not instrumental. One will admire the magnificent iconostasis, the screen that separates the altar and the nave in the Eastern Orthodox Churches, which illuminates a besides white and sober inside.
The Atelier des Lumières opened its doors on 13 April in the trendy 11th arrondissement of Paris in a huge renovated industrial building. The place used to be a foundry covering an area of more than 3000 m2 during almost 100 years from 1835. Due to the international crisis the Plichon Brothers foundry closed in 1929 and the site was sold to a company specialized in tool manufacturing. The company closed in 2000 and the building was unused when it was discovered by Cuturespaces in 2013. This cultural business is well-known in France for its innovative and high-quality running of remarkable natural sites or historical buildings. Among the most famous: the Musée Jacquemart André in Paris or the Carrières de Lumière in the Baux de Provence.
The Atelier des Lumières in Paris is based on the same purpose as the Carrières de Lumière in the Baux de Provence and aims to offer to the public an impressive Art and Music Immersive Experience in a unique decor. There one does not look at an art work, one does not read about a picture or an artist but one is immerged into his time, life and works. Hundreds of cameras project thousands of images on the walls as well as on the floor.
One gets acquainted with the artist and his art works through the immersion into the images and the music. One lives the works and walks in the middle of them. The show is different on each section of wall, there is one image after the other in a riot of colours and sounds. One can either walk through the various spaces of the former foundry; stand or sit on a concrete seat, a stair or directly on the floor. And the show will depend on the place from which one looks at it, there is an infinity of combinations and one can see the same programme several times without having the same experience.
For its opening the Atelier des Lumières presents three successive exhibitions: a major immersive exhibition on Gustave Klimt; a short programme on Hundertwasser, a Viennese artist contemporary of Klimt; and an even shorter modern creation. The shows starts with Gustav Klimt…
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The three programmes are shown continuously and one can stay as long as one wish. I looked at them twice with much pleasure… and I wish I had more time to stay and watch Hundertwasser a third time: so beautiful!
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Such an unusual exhibition place is easier to describe with pictures rather than words… and even pictures only give a slight idea of what it is in reality. If you have never been to the Carrières de Lumière in the Baux de Provence, no doubt that you will be even more dazzled and surprised than me! As the first time is really amazing. And one more piece of advice: better avoid the weekends or the school holidays as the experience is more impressive when the site is not too crowded. I hope you will enjoy your visit!
Practical information : Atelier des Lumières – 38 rue Saint Maur 75011 – Exhibition Gustav Klimt – Until 31 December 2018 – 10am-6pm (10pm on fridays and saturdays)