When entering the community you can see a very interesting plate on the wall, showing a nativity scene. But instead of the usual ox or donkey, here you can see an elephant and a giraffe. The giraffe is looking very closely at the scene, the long neck can be seen in the background of the sheperds. There is another animal which I think looks like a kangaroo, but I'm not sure. A kangaroo in an African nativity scene? Maybe it's a gazelle.
For young children the service can be boring, so their parents can take up the offer or a playgroup. The playgroup is run by some of the young people who spend some time in Taizé. My daughter once did it,she really liked it, but she met with some language problems. The common language in Taizé is English, but of course there are many small children who don't understand it yet.Before the children stay at the playgroup, the parents best had find out which languages are spoken that day. My daughter was caring for children from Lithuania, luckily there was a 12-year-old girl among them who could translate.
When you walk past the barracks you come to the source of St Etienne. There is the source, two lakes and a small, open chapel for meditation.
It's a complete silence area. To get down to it, you have pass two gates and then walk down a long, steep path. When it 's been raining, this path is slippery and muddy, so the gate down to the source stays closed. The first gate is opened and lets you visit the gardens.
Opening times are 11am to 12 am and 2 pm to 7 pm.
The grounds of Taize itself are pleasant, with lots of trees and space, as well as the wooded area around St Stephen's Spring with its small lake.
The village of Taize itself is pictureseque, with a small church that is open, stone buildings and lovely views over the valley as well.
Its a short walk to some of nearest villages through pleasant countryside. Or a short bus journey to Cluny, with its ancient monastic site.
Most young people are in Taizé for one week, from Sunday to Sunday. In groups, they hear and discuss a great variety of subjects in daily workshops. But even when you are just there for one or two days, you can attend these workshops and participate in the discussions. The morning ones are more for the groups, but the afternoon ones are for everyone. The main language is English, in the beginning people are asked which languages they speak and for each language there will someone be found to translate.
The most interesting discussions will develop.
Service in Taizé is different from the usual Sunday service.There is no sermon, no prayers spoken by everyone, just a short reading in at least four languages and of course music. The songs of Taizé are in many languages, they are short and they are repeated many times.The music is the main part of the service.
In the front of the church there are orange drapes and lots of candles.
The church has several moveable walls, which can be taken away depending on how many people are attending. In the week leading up to Easter there can be as many as ten thousand. When I was there in early March, there were about one thousand.
There are no benches, you sit on the floor. Or, to be more comfortable, you can buy a small wooden bench in the Exposition, the store of Taizé.There is a lot to be said for these benches, once you passed a certain age!
After evening service the brothers are waiting in the church and people can talk to them.
Apart from the big church, which can hold several thousand people, there are some small chapels. These are open, have benches for maybe ten people and are thought for quiet,private meditation.