Sunday, July 31, 2011

Paris, Day 7 -- Ave Maria at Sainte-Chapelle

Today is Sunday, so I decided to have a quiet day of reading and writing.  I do want to get some writing done while I'm here!  I drank coffee, and made myself a sandwich of baguette, meat, chevre cheese and hard-boiled egg, and ate it with green olives and some of the lovely orange melon I bought at the market yesterday.  I wrote... I did another load of laundry...  I watered the flowers in Madame's window boxes.  She has beautiful blooming geraniums in all her windows, except one (where the pigeons apparently do their business above, and she's given up).

By the time evening came round, I was ready to stretch my legs a bit.  And I suddenly remembered that I'd seen a sign, when I toured the beautiful Sainte-Chapelle Chapel on Ile de la Cite, announcing some sort of Sunday concert series.  Thanks to the wonders of the internet, including churches with websites and Google Translate, I was able to figure out the details.  There was, indeed, a concert tonight, and it started at 7pm!

I threw on a dress and a scarf, and headed down there.

Apostle, keeping an eye on things.

The Rose Window.  For the concert, we entered through the big red doors beneath -- the way the king would have.

The angels in the details.
Folding chairs had been set up in the chapel.  Beautiful golden light was streaming through the astoundingly tall stained glass windows.  The chapel was consecrated in 1248 (can you believe it?  1248) to house King Louis the IX's collection of relics.  Each window illustrates stories from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, as well as the discovery of the relics and how Louis transported them to France.  Blues and reds dominate, but there's yellow and green and brown and clear glass as well.  The Rose Window in the back, on the western side of the chapel, was lit up like a starburst.  The long narrow pillars between the windows are painted in muted blues and reds, and decorated with little golden castles and ivy and fleur de lis.  Statues of the twelve apostles gaze down at the people congregated below.

The program for the evening was, appropriately, "Masterpieces of Sacred Music."  The Paris Classik ensemble is in residence at the Sainte-Chapelle, and gives more than a hundred concerts a year there.  The string quartet was joined by mezzo Ghislaine Roux -- who looked very much like Mercedes Ruhl, and sang like an angel.  Tonight's songs were "Ave Maria & Agnus Dei" by Schubert, Bach, Gounod, Mozart, Bizet and others.  The string quartet and single singer were the perfect size group for the chapel, which is tall, but not terrible large.  They filled the place with music.  It was a gorgeous way to spend an evening.

Stay tuned...  tomorrow is Ellen and Eliza's Excellent Adventure Out of Town!  On a train!  With flowers!  I'm charging up my camera battery as we speak...


Anonymous said...

Sainte-Chapelle is amazingly beautiful!


EM Lewis said...


Were your ears burning today, PJS? I was telling E. about your couch surfing adventures...

Thinking of you!