Monday, May 26, 2008

Paris: a chapel amidst a shopping complex

Peter and Kristina (who kindly allowed me to stay at their Paris apartment) had informed me that nearby was to be found a pilgrimage site, right in the midst of a large shopping complex called Le Bon Marché, off La Rue de Sèvres, which ran parallel to la Rue du Cherche Midi where I was staying. So on Tuesday (29th April) I duly headed to La Chapelle Notre Dame de la Médaille Miraculeuse (made famous especially by the visions of St. Catherine Labouré) - you can read about its significance on the Web site.

It's located officially at 140 Rue du Bac, not far from the turning off Rue de Sèvres; personally, knowing that it was in the area I had no difficulty locating it, but it's worth noting that there is a drive and the entrance to the church itself is at the far end, hidden from view from the road. The following is taken a little way down the drive:

Looking towards the Chapelle Notre Dame de La Médaille Miraculeuse

Just go to the covered area and the entrance to the church is on the right. You pass on the left a statue to St. Vincent de Paul, were behind the statue are rows of small bricks or tablets that record many expressions of gratitude for prayers answered.

St. Vincent de Paul near the Chapelle Notre Dame de La Médaille Miraculeuse

I proceeded into the church, where Mass was in progress, with a considerable number in attendance. I would like to explore the chapel more, but on this occasion just stood for a few minutes at the back and observed the considerable lightness in the designs. Coming out I then popped into a little shop and donated towards souvenirs - the nun who received payments was very pleasant and light, the opposite of the harshness so characteristic of urban life. She seemed to reflect the uplifting atmosphere of the chapel itself.

I then emerged and sought some more worldly souvenirs, particularly of the edible variety, to share with relative, friends and colleagues. So I dived into the Grand Epicerie(?) next door. To be honest, I'm not sure, but it certainly had some expensive food labels! I then entered another section of Le Bon Marché, which looked like this:

Le Bon Marché

I bought one more item. Can you guess what it was...?

A Travel Scrabble set in French (for me to practise ahead of future visits!) However, I didn't find this so easily: I initially wandered to the top and only then identified from a chart that the toys section was in the basement, so I only found it after traipsing through furnishings, clothes, books etc. The toy department was quite extensive and I could have quite easily spent longer there! One corner was devoted to origami and among the instruction manuals was one with a foreword by Brigitte Bardot. Whereas I can imagine an English foreword talking a little about the ancient tradition of orgami and how fun it is, here was a philosophical reflection on how origami was harmonious with nature, consistent with the urgent need to protect the environment! Her religious expression in secular life, perhaps?

1 comment:

Fawn said...

Paris is my favorite spot for shopping.... other option is online shopping through Adidas for my favorite branded clothes.