St-Germain des Près, Paris
The abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés is the oldest surviving church in Paris. Its bell tower is also one of the oldest surviving in the whole of France. Built in 1014 AD, the abbey replaced a 6th century church that had been destroyed by the Normans in the 9th century. It originally had two additional towers on either side of its apse, but they were deemed unstable and removed in the early 19th century. The abbey was continuously added to and remodelled over the centuries. Although its interior has conserved some original details, particularly in its ambulatory chapels, the nave and aisles of the church were completely altered in the 19th century with flamboyant polychrome decorations. Saint-Germain-des-Prés gave the surrounding neighbourhood its name, and the district has now become one of the trendiest in Paris.
This lovely little square, has all the Parisian atmosphere you could ask for. Situated just in front of the St. Germain-des-prés church, the oldest in Paris, this is a place where there is life. Students from some of the best schools in France congregate here, mingling with the many tourists and of course there is the possibility of spotting someone famous at the nearby cafés, Lipp, Flore and the Deux Magots. This is an ideal people-watching spot-Have a look at the photo of the Nun eating lunch with an "SDF" and a pigeon. Unfortunately I couldn't get the whole shot for a hedge being in the way.
Not a couple of hundred metres away is the superb "place de Furstenberg", with the Delacroix museum at no. 6, the last home and studio of the painter. Website below.
Located off boulevard Saint-Germain, this small hidden alley provides a glimpse of what Paris might have looked like in medieval times. The pedestrianised, cobblestoned alley is tucked behind buildings and is accessible through archways that lead into the modern streets. The charming alley contains several shops and a couple of historic café's and restaurants, including le Procope, one of Paris' oldest dating from the 17th century. Le Procope is known to have been frequented by many literary and historic figures, such as Voltaire.
St Germain des Pres is a charming quarter in Paris, filled with artists, students, locals and tourists! There are many restaurants and nice shopping boutiques that are fun-filled during the day and the night also!
The church in this quarter (l'Eglise St Germain des Pres) is said to be one of the first constructed in Paris. When I read this, I expected the church to be more extravagant than it was, however, it was beautiful nonetheless.
I would recommend going to St Germain des Pres if you want to roam around the boutiques, or if you wanted to go out for a noisy drink in the evening!!
The history of Saint-Germain-des-Pres goes back to 543 AD, when King Childebert decided to build a new basilica. The building has of course expanded and changed throughout the years, but it has always kept its religious purpose. It was badly damaged during the Revolution and left in such a state of disrepair that the authorities seriously considered taking it down. The church was saved by a group of Parisians led by none other than Victor Hugo, who once lived nearby at no. 30 rue du Dragon. Intensive restoration work ensued and, in my opinion, it is now one of the nicest churches in Paris!
Saint-Germain-des-Pres is open to visitors every day of the week (no admission fees).
The St. Germaine Quarter stretches from the Fontaine St.-Michel west along the Seineto the Institute de France, the Pont des Arts and the Ecole des Beaux Arts. The area extends to the south up to the Blvd, past the Church and across the Blvd. up to the Luxembourg Gardens comprises most of the area of the 6th Arrondissement. ( This is really "The Left Bank'). It includes the Churches St. Germaine des Pres and St. Sulpice, plus every sort of shop and eatery from ready-to-wear to designer, or creperie to 4* gourmet palace and famous brasseries and cafes. There are lot of inexpensive 2* hotels and better ones. The many colorful residents (and presence of laundromats) make this a good area for long Parisian sojourns. We stayed on the rue des Canettes (as a family group of 5 couples) and could walk to many places and use various Metro stations. We ate in small creperies and at th bar across the street and walked upthe block to the Place St. Sulpice and further to the Luxembourg Gardens. Every side street was interesting. This is the real Paris! Up the r. Tournon was a view of the Luxembourg Palace and the entry to the Hotel de Brancas, now the Institut Francais d'Architecture.
If you cross the Pont des Arts from the Louvre to the Left Bank you see before you the gilded and ribbed dome of the Institute de France. It was built by LeVau (1663-70) for Cardinal Mazerin as a college to provide higher education for recently annexed districts. The Revolution closed the college (it was not in line with equality). Napoleon established the Institute and installed there the Academie Francaise; the chapel (under the dome) became an auditorium. Here the 40 life-time fellows (one is at last a female) of great appropriate“accomplishment” (most are unknown) safeguard the French Language. The East Wing is the Bibliotheque Mazarin. There are guided tours on the weekend. Outside following the Quai de Conti east is the Hotel des Monnaies which houses an extensive museum of Medallions (an art form that I have not developed a taste for). One should go west and access r. Bonaparte and look in the unusual shop windows, first stopping at the gate of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. You can enter the courtyard but there is nothing to see and beyond that is for the students. The buildings are very old and have an interesting past history. The rue leads further South to the church of St. Germaine. A further walk goes across Blvd. St. Germaine.
My hotel in Paris was in the St. Germain des Pres neighborhood, a very atmospheric section of the city. Small, winding streets and tiny sidewalks where (maybe) two people at a time can pass. Little shops selling furniture, antiques and wine, among other things. Restaurant, cafes and little brasseries. It's quaint and quiet too, though there are sections with more nightlife too.
I found it especially appealing at night. The sun is down, the soft streetlights are on, and the atmosphere really becomes different. Like in a movie. I found it to be very appealing, and always made it a point to get out and walk around at night.
If you walk any of the little streets between the Left Bank of the Seine and Blvd Saint Germain, you'll find yourself transported back to a different time. Leave the hustle and bustle of Paris behind here.
Saint Germain-des-Pres is the name of the oldest church in Paris, built in the 12th century. It is also the name of one of the most luxurious quarters of the city and one of the most popular ones.
The Église Saint Germain-des-Pres was built in the second half of the 12th century, and was opened in 1163 by Pope Alexander III. At the same place there also has been an abbey that was originally built in the 6th century. The church is a mixture of Gothic and Roman construction styles. Throughout the long history of the church there were added and replaced several parts resulting in the current mixture of styles. During the French Revolution two of the original three towers were distroyed and never rebuilt. This leaves the clocktower we see nowadays as the only tower of the church.
In the many narrow streets around the church, ending at the Seine river at the north and the Jardins de Luxembourg at the south, you will find lots of art boutics, antique traders and fashion shops. Especially around the Place St-Germain-des-Pres and the Boulevard Saint Germain you will find lots of little bars where a simple cup of coffee will cost you a fortune.
Firstly, the door capitals have figures that are examples of early (1100AD) Medieval stone carving. Other carvings inside the church show the progress in this art through the centuries. There is a side altar (with lots of candles) with a Madonna and Child (c.1340) and several tombs of notables with other fine later sculpting. H. Flandrin( a pupil of Ingres) has painted large murals that line the walls of the nave depicting Old and New Testament scenes (the darknes mutes the colors). At the West end is a fine organ that is invoved in some of the many concerts given here. Off to the right is the St. Symphorian Chapel of the early period.
The 11-12C church was built upon foundations from Merovingian (6C) times. Romanesque features remain as in the windows of the (990 AD) bell-tower and in the nave. The flying buttresses seen at the apse (from the Metro stairs) were in place by 1150, an innovation shared with Notre Dame at that period. The original door is preserved under the entrance porch. Looking away from the church at that site, one stares at the Deux Magots with its sidewalk viewers across the way, while to the right (North) there is a small garden containing fragments of the original church and parts of the flamboyant Lady Chapel (built by Pierre de Montreuil in the 13C) which have been arranged like a mini-cloister with places to sit. (The chapel was destroyed during the 1800 difficulties). There used to be a sculpted head by Picasso in honor of Apollinaire here, but when we visited last, only the dedication base was present.
The St. Germaine district (in the 6th Arrondissement) consists of the main St. Germaine Blvd. and surrounds. It's an area steeped in rich history – including a fascinating literary and bohemian history. Now, on the surface, you'll see traces of that old intellectualism if you look closely enough past the shi-shi fashion shops and its crowds of shoppers; it’s still home to bookshops, and arts stops, and many a cafe. We enjoyed strolling through the area and dipping into brasseries to sip sidewalk café and people-watch. The highlight here for us, though, was a visit to the famous Café du Flor just near the grand 6th-century St. Germaine-des-Prés church. We sat overlooking the sidewalk, and – with our greatly overpriced drinks and delicious profiteroles – watched the parade of Parisian life stroll by. (The Flor is supposedly the place to be ‘round these parts, though that’s dependant upon who you ask – Brasserie Lipp and Les Deux Magots across the way also have tempting caches of old stories a la Hemingway under their awnings.)
Saint-Germen-de-Pres stands on that place where in 543 a basil for storage of a particle of the Cross was constructed. In the VIII century the Benedict abbey was established there which existed more than 1000 years. Within the revolution the building seriasly suffered from fires. Then the building undergone many reconstruction as a result of which in the present church different architectural styles mixed up. The facade of the church kept the rests of a portal of the XII century. Rene Descartes - the great mathematician and the Polish king Jan Kazimir were buried in the church. Jan Kazimir in 1668 abdicated and became the abbey of Saint-Germen.
The beautiful St Germain des Pres is the oldest church in Paris. It was built by the Merovingian King Childebert in 542 to house holy relics, and developed into a huge Benedictine abbey. It was rebuilt in the 11th century (from which period the robust bell tower, the only one of three to survive, dates), and was burned during the Revolution only to be mostly rebuilt again during the 19th century. The nave is Romanesque while the choir is early Gothic, and the transition can be seen even under the heavy green and gold 19th century paintwork.
The beautiful church of Saint-Germain-des-Pres is the oldest in Paris.
Today, from the old Romanesque church from 11 C with three tall bell towers, only one remained.
The interior of the church is not as big as we would expect, due to the fact that the church was intended to be monastery chapel and not parish church.
Among the things we can admire inside are: St Symphorian's Chapel with the tomb of St Germanus, the tomb of John Casimir, King of Poland and Mausoleum of James Douglas.