We recently visited Paris, and yes, we did many of the things you would expect American expats to do in Paris. We packed in plenty during our three days and nights there including a visit to the Louvre and some other great museums (stay tuned for a future post on that…); two walking tours — one in Montmartre (featuring Sacre Coeuer) and another in the Marais neighborhood (Victor Hugo’s old stomping grounds); a long walk down to the Eiffel Tower, a picnic lunch on the Île de la Cité, and a modern dance performance of Carmen that was out of this world.
We also did something that is my favorite thing to do in the city and something I recommend to everyone I know who is planning a trip to Paris. Go see an evening concert at the Sainte Chapelle cathedral. Seriously, if you want to experience something truly breathtaking, get tickets to one of the classical music performances that takes place each evening year round in the church’s awesome upper chapel.
A quick note on the building itself. Sainte Chapelle was constructed in the 13th Century and is regarded by many to be the most beautiful church in Paris. Its most magnificent feature are the 50 foot high stained glass windows that are best viewed during a bright sunlit day. The Church was commissioned by Louis IX and was constructed as a place to enshrine the Crown of Thorns and other sacred relics brought back from the Crusades. Here is a picture that someone else took in the daytime of the inside of the upper chapel, where the concerts take place.
The video below is one I took as we entered the chapel for our concert. Its dark outside, so you can’t really get a sense of the magnificence of the stained glass, but you do get a better sense of the massive scale of the windows and the awe inspiring architecture. And as a bonus, in addition to some of the Swiss Sojourner “selfie-narrative” that we have all grown to know and love, you get to hear a french woman directing incoming audience members on where to sit. En Français!
The night we went, we saw and heard a string section and a wonderful soprano opera singer. One other thing to be aware of — and I actually think this part is really cool… both literally and figuratively — is that the cathedral has no heat, so if you are there for a show in December like we were, each chair comes equipped with its own blanket to wrap up in to stay warm. How sweet is that?!
So I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “well yes, its a beautiful church, and its got beautiful stained glass, but if I’m going to go see a concert, I want to know what it might sound like!” I figured you might be thinking that, so I found an inconspicuous spot to stand up and shoot a little video, complete with some decent audio of the concert. Its about a minute and a half long, but it’s kind of fun to close your eyes and listen and imagine that you are sitting in a steel folding chair, and its about 25 degrees in the building, and you’re wrapped up in a blanket, and you are gazing up at the stained glass and the high vaulted ceiling, and you are listening to some great classical music. Enjoy.