PARIS – Day 1 & 2: at a snail’s pace

My flight was on time, but that of my friends (hosts, actually) was delayed, so I made my way into the city and then, to stay awake, took a walk. I am in the 6th, so I headed over to see what was up at St. Germain. It has become a sad place, it seems to me, since the last time I saw it many years ago. Junk is piled in the side chapels. It seems dirty and uncared for.

However, I did take interest in the monument to Jean Mabillon (+1707) who was a great scholar and a pioneer in the field of Paleography. Who of us did not study him, after all?


Once my friends were well-ensconced, we had some lunch, a little soup and some goodies:



And continued staying awake with a walk across the Pont des Arts, around the Louvre, and towards the Opera, and then over to L’église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine (“La Madeleine”). Part of this was an research tour for my friends business, but… I won’t dig into that.

There is right now at the Grand Palais an exhibit of the Japanese engraver Katsushika Hokusai.  Therefore, the épicerie Fauchon had to do a little éclair decorated with the famous Great Wave off of Kanagawa, which everyone has seen everywhere and which artists reinterpret in infinite ways. I hadn’t seen it on white chocolate.


And then around the corner to Hediard, with its spectacular displays of spices and teas and candied fruits. I’ve never seen anything quite like this. It made a real impression, especially the whole pineapples, with the leaves.


The Madeleine.


Over to the Place de la Concorde and then through the Tuileries Garden back to the 6th for supper and an early evening.


On the way home, we stuck our heads into St. Germain des’Auxerrois, near the Louvre.   I saw on the schedule that they have the Extraordinary Form there.  Thus, when I got home, I shot the place an email with the request that I might be able to say Mass at the church.  This is one of the problems for a priest when traveling: finding a friendly place to say Mass where they don’t force you into a purgatory of concelebration.

For supper I started with snails.  What else, given the way I was feeling by this time.


And a beef casserole.  It wasn’t Boeuf bourgignon, but one of its numerous regional iterations.  The carrots had a touch of cumin, which was nice.


DAY 2:

I went to St. Germain des’Auxerrois this morning for the 9:45 TLM.  It was a sung Mass.
Afterwards, I spoke with whom I assume to be the parish priest.  He recognized me right away (as often happens).  We couldn’t chat long, because he wanted to greet people after Mass, but I think I may be on for their Thursday evening TLM.  I still need a place for daily Mass but… I brought my Mass kit, complete with the SPORCH travel altar cards.

The Mass itself was well-attended, some 150+ and the majority of them young.  There were quite a few families with children.  Alas, they use for Mass a tiny versus populum altar, which is pretty cramped for the TLM.  There is a grand altar in the sanctuary, however.  A choral group sang for the Mass and there was good congregational participation in the sung responses.


On my way home, I looped around to the Cathedral, Notre-Dame, and listened to the bells in full peal for a while.  The square already had a long line for people to visit the church, which I declined.  I don’t do lines for churches.

Then, across the river and a brief visit to Saint-Séverin. Mass was just concluding and it was still pretty full, even after the rush of people leaving immediately after (I presume) receiving Communion. I saw a lot of gray hair and not many children or strollers. The modern glass in the ambulatory is horrific, by the way.

These strollers I see today… they look like something engineered by the European Space Agency to land on a comet.

Even now, from my open hotel window I can hear bells across the city. It makes me think of what the city sounded like when it was announced that the war was over.

Now to find some lunch.

Prayers for you readers during my perambulations. This is a bit of a vacation for me, in that I get to be a tourist, I don’t have anything in particular that I have to do here (conference, talk, errands as I always have in Rome, NYC, etc.). I haven’t been to Paris for years. I don’t know the city all that well, so it is fun to reacquaint myself and do some exploring. I am straining at the leash to visit the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay and to get up to Sacré Coeur de Montmartre.


I won’t detain you with the details of the great day I had.  I’ll cut to the chase.

Supper started with oysters.  They were rather briny, but good.


This one seems to be an artists long-lost ear.  Tasty.


Some bread and frenchy schmear, with a Suze.  I like Suze.  Can one get it stateside now?  You can get everything else these days.


I had already started to dig into my terrine when I remembered all of you.  Have a bite.




And, boeuf saignante comme il faut.  I think my sauce béarnaise is marginally better.   This was not bad at all!


For dessert had an assortment des fromages, which was okay, but not exciting enough to take a photo of an recount.

Tomorrow, I hope I will be hacking my way through part of the Louvre, which I designate for tomorrow and Friday.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. VexillaRegis says:

    Ah, Paris! (Parrreeeh)

    The music programmes in Notre Dame, for example, is of the highest quality, and I recommend you to attend an organ recital there! Oh, how I envy you!!!

  2. VexillaRegis says:

    PS. Welcome to this side of the Pond ;-)! I know you speak Italian and German, but, may I ask, how’s your French? Just curious :-) [It has been a while, but it’s pretty good. However, once upon a time, it was possible to identity me instantly as an Italian speaker, probably because of the different use of the subjunctive. My vocabulary is flooding back, but it’s the slang that I lack.]

  3. William Tighe says:

    Have you ever been to the OF Mass decked out with Eastern/Byzantine elements at SS Gervais & Protais, the home of the “Fraternite de Jerusalem?” I haven’t been there for years, but here is its liturgical schedule:

  4. Susan M says:

    Here’s our new pastor (Diocese of Orlando) Fr Joseph Bellerive, born and raised in Paris, singing at The Church of the Madeleine. He’s the one on the right and is a great orthodox fabulous priest.

  5. robtbrown says:

    When I saw that Dom Dysmas deLassus was elected the Prior General of the Carthusians, my thoughts went back to 1972, my first experience in Paris and France. Three friends and I went to France to check out the Abbey of Fontgombault. We needed to study French in Paris, and Arnaud deLassus, the father of Dom Dysmas, offered us his house in LeChesnay (near the Palace of Versailles) while the family went to the mountains.

    Now, over 40 years later, it still seems an act of almost incomprehensible generosity.

  6. Gerard Plourde says:

    Since you’re staying in the 6th arrondissement you might want to try to visit St. Sulpice for the organ concert. If you’re still in the city on the 23rd, that is. Here’s the listing for that concert –

    Dimanche 23 novembre 16h (Sunday, 23 November at 4 PM) – Récital d’orgue
    L. Robilliard (organiste de St-François de Sales – Lyon), orgue
    Franck, Rachmaninoff, Fauré, Liszt, Widor, Vierne

    and a link to the site –

    [That’s Sunday week. I will be back in the States.]

  7. Supertradmum says:

    Have a great time, Father. Believe it or not, in all my travels, I have never been to Paris. I was always staying with people in the Vendee or on the coast. I shall be in Marseilles in mid-January, for the first time. When I was married, because my ex and family went to Paris regularly when he was a child, he was not interested in going.

    I had a good priest friend who was actually at St. Sulpice for years hearing confessions.

    Have a rest as well and forget about us for awhile.

  8. pedantic_prof says:

    For daily Mass, you should also find amenability at Sainte-Odile, Saint-Eugène et Sainte Cécile, and the basilique de Sainte-Clotilde. In extremis, Saint-Nicolas du Chardonnet should allow you to celebrate your private Mass there.

    I spend three months a year in Paris and would highly recommend the family-run Le Trumilou near Hôtel de Ville, where I’ve been going for over a decade. It’s good, traditional French food and is extremely reasonably priced with a very agreeable house wine (Saint-Pourçain). It’s a place which would please Julia Child. I blogged about the restaurant’s heartiness here:

    Enjoy your time in Paris, Father!

    [Sounds like the sort of place I thrive on. Perhaps I’ll interest my hosts in going.]

  9. Gratias says:

    Ah Paris! Enjoy Father!

    Thanks to the indispensable Wikkimissa I have been several times to St.Germain d’Auxerrois near the Louvre. They also nave a Novus Ordo Gregorian mass with a great choir.

    The Abbey of St. Germain des Près has been wreckovated. Same for St. Étienne du Mont, where St. Catherine rests (near the Pantheon). This is was a terrible shame for these are beautiful medieval churches. Wreckovations were funded by the French government.

    For a unique neighborhood restaurant that changes menu each day and forces one to share long tables, I can recommend Le Petit Benoît, 100 meters fron St. Germaine Abbey.

    Bonne vacance.

  10. wanda says:

    Tres magnifique! Enjoy everything, Fr. Z. Prayers for your R&R and safe travels.

  11. I have to say that if by versus populum altar we mean free standing altar, well, let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Let not the versus populum crowd lay claim to every free standing altar to the exclusion of ad orientem celebration any more than we should let the vernacular crowd lay claim to every celebration of the Novus Ordo. We “ad orientemites” have to reclaim as many altars as we can, even if they aren’t perfect. While some free standing altars definitely do not allow for ad orientem use, most can be used with some preparation (such as removing all the pumpkins and wheat stalks that well-meaning people think are required to decorate the sanctuary for the season). [There’s little that’s wonderful about this one, I’m afraid. It is one of those modern things that’s about 3 feet square. Pretty cramped.]

  12. Facta Non Verba says:

    Are you going to the Chapel of the Miraculous Medal? If so, please post pictures.

  13. monmir says:

    Just a word of caution about St Germain l’Auxerrois ( a beautiful church worth seeing), I went to the Mass they claim to be the 1962 missal it is not. One of my friends went there too and he soon left. The reading is done by one parishioner, then the priest reads the gospel facing the people, it did not seem that he read it at the altar.
    I would say it is a sort of hybrid, I am not that knowledgeable, but I will not go back there unless for a concert, the organ is one of the best in Paris.
    Doing this kind of Mass I don’t know if he is truly friendly to the Traditional Mass. The little bloc altar is a weird thing too, unless you imagine it to be a tomb.
    St Severin is a beautiful example of gothic architecture and not seen by many visitors.

  14. James C says:

    The first church I ever visited in Paris was St Eustache near Les Halles. It was built in the early 16th century right before Gothic got out of style. It’s really lovely and you’re guaranteed of no lines!

    Father, have you ever been to the Musée du Cluny, the National Museum of the Middle Ages? It’s in the Latin Quarter. As good as the Cloisters is, Cluny’s collection tops it!

  15. Emilio says:

    I seem to remember that the Louvre was free and delightfully uncrowded on Wednesday or Thursday evenings after four or five o’clock, but this was in 2005 when I experienced Paris. One of my greatest lifetime memories was enjoying those masterpieces in those palatial rooms in the relative quiet of the evening, with the glow of the city below. Also, a dark chocolate and banana crêpe sucré is still a great lifetime memory for me, or one with egg, ham and cheese! The best were found at kiosks on the Boulevard St. Michel by the Luxembourg Gardens. The parish church of St. Etienne du Mont is very close to the Pantheon and is one of my favorites, in the world. St. Geneviève is buried and venerated inside. Bonne séjour à Paris, Father!

  16. CurmudgeonKC says:

    Yes, St. Germaine L’auxerois is not a regular, licit 1962 Mass. They didn’t do the red OR say the black. Last year my wife and I visited Paris. Saw about 25 churches with a decade of the rosary before the Blessed Sacrament in each one, when we could find It. Overlooked the canonical issue and went to St. Nicolas for daily Masses in the evenings…it was the only church that was really still much of a church, and it was 2/3 full at each Mass (although there they didnt read the epistle in Latin, only French. at St. Nicholas, even the stalls for the nobility had nicely dressed old ladies in them. I assume they had the right to use them. All the chapels were intact and suitable for Mass. Then went to L’auxerois for Sunday Mass., before our train to Chartres, and found that it was a hodgepodge. Readings by laymen and even the canon aloud, en francais! Instead of the high altar or the beautiful (or one beautiful) lady chapel off to the right, they used the ugly modern altar in front of the choir. The schola was OK, though.

    I hear its better at Versailles.

  17. Emilio says:

    @monmir, Curmudgeon … Do you know where I saw this done too 9 years ago? At St. Nicholas du Chardonnet, the stronghold of the SSPX in Paris, except at the low Mass there it was a seminarian, not a layperson, who read the reading in French as the priest faced the altar and read it in Latin quietly. The SSPX priest also turned around and read the Gospel in French, once only…and this is the SSPX in France. This seems to be a French custom which is obviously extremely popular there, and I’m not sure it’s something to lose one’s head over or to shout “hybrid!” about. At the EF I attend in downtown New Orleans, the epistle and Gospel are chanted in English, and attendance is usually standing room only.

  18. Hank Igitur says:

    Every TLM I have ever been to in France had the epistle and Gospel in French only with the epistle often read by a non-cleric. At St Germain l’Auxerrois I have also witnessed a layman make a lengthydonations appeal speech after communion from the pulpit and although the Canon was audible it was in Latin. When a second priest assists for communion he does not always know the rubrics for making the sign of the Cross with the Host nor the correct Latin to say and distributes in complete silence.
    St Denis du Chardonnet has 6 Masses on Sunday all well attended.
    There is currently no FSSP presence in Paris.
    There are 6 places offering TLMs in Paris central on Sundays and several during the week.
    The tiny box altars are very common in my experience in France including Chartres Cathedral where it was used for ordinations last June. At least small size means they do not obstruct the view of the High Altars.

  19. NBW says:

    Enjoy Paris, Father. The photos are beautiful.

  20. CurmudgeonKC says:

    Yes, I understand that the French way is different, and one makes allowances when one is a guest. I was warned by a priest friend, a former Ecclesia Dei staffer, that we might get a little more vernacular than we were used to, even from the SSPX. But at least at St. Nicolas, it was a recognizable ’62, without distractions other than the epistle shortcut. (BTW, even here in the states I’ve seen a lay “straw subdeacon,” sans maniple, read the epistle). That didn’t bunch my knickers up at St. Nicolas, but at L’Auxerois, I would have thought it was an O.F. Mass but for the ad orientem. I would not recommend L’Auxerois for the traddie tourist/pilgrim. Better off at St. Nicolas, or if one has time, out at Versailles. Unless Fr. Z is at L’Auxerois, of course From what I saw when I assisted at his Mass (at Holy Innocents NYC, not in Paris), he’ll do it the way he tells other priests to do it.

    Even if one can’t get past the “SSPX thing,” one should visit St. Nicolas du Chardonet on a weekday evening, around Mass time. It is something to see at least one building which is still more of a church than a museum, and to get the momentary comfort of being a crowd of traddies in the midst of a city of unbelievers.

  21. PostCatholic says:

    Enjoy your trip. I have a friend who is a priest at La Madeleine. I think you’d enjoy each others company provided you didn’t talk about religion or faith.

  22. CurmudgeonKC says:

    Fr. Z, don’t miss visiting St. Vincent de Paul down the street if you go to the Miraculous Medal chapel. Amazing wax effigy, but it’s a shame they damaged the body. Mental note to religious orders….even if your founder is an incorruptible, don’t get him wet.

    And also if you’re in the neighborhood of St. Vincent, do go to the grocery store across the street. It makes Dean & DeLuca look like “Save-a-Lot.” Could barely drag Mrs. Curmudgeon out of there. [I think I know the place. And the Rue du Bac will certainly have a visit.]

  23. benedetta says:

    You are in Paris, Father??? I had surmised initially from your on the road post that you were off for a little weekend jaunt…How excellent!!!

  24. Peregrinator says:

    Since you’re staying in the 6th arrondissement you might want to try to visit St. Sulpice for the organ concert.

    If my son (an organ fanatic) were reading this, he too would recommend a stop in Saint-Sulpice to hear the Cavaillé-Coll organ. There are others in Paris ( but the one in Saint-Sulpice is considered his finest.

  25. MrsMacD says:

    Father Z! Have you been to the “missions étrangères,” just up the street from the chapel of the Miraculous medal, in Rue Du Bac? They have a whole room of relics of the 19th century martyrs of the far East, and native paintings of the martyrs. (We have a special devotion to St. Théophane Venard, a priest martyred at the young age of 32, a favourite of St. Thérèse.)

  26. CharlesG says:

    If you enjoy classic theatre, you might see what’s playing at the Comedie Francaise. They often do Corneille, Racine and Moliere plays. Last time I was in Paris, however, they weren’t doing anything interesting, but I was able to take in a baroque opera by Lully in Louis XIV’s theatre in the Versailles palace — quite wonderful. I also second the Cluny museum. If you have more time, the Gothic abbey of St. Denis is of historical, architectural and ecclesiastical interest.

  27. Woody says:

    Be sure to visit the Basilica of Notre Dame des Victoires.
    Even though it is Novus Ordo, the historical connections are truly impressive. And you can join the Archconfraternity there.

    All the best,

  28. My wonderful husband is taking me to Paris for a vacation soon, and I’d been wondering what to add to my “where should we go?” list. It’ll be my first time there, so some things are obvious but required (the Louvre, Notre Dame, etc), but won’t take up nearly the whole trip. Now I can use your blog as a sort of travel book! Very considerate of you to time your trip as you did, I must say. :)

    Have a wonderful time, and God and Mary keep you!

  29. Supertradmum says:

    Father, your photos are making me hungry, but I have had food poisoning for now three days from bad meat bought in a local store. Be careful. Of course, it is hotter here.

    I love oysters. The setting for food is so important and something I learned in my family. The eye must be pleased as well as the palate.

    In between restaurants, take a peek at this…I may expand on it.

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