The tiny natural island in the middle of the Seine, Île Saint-Louis is home to a church that, in all the years I have been visiting the area, has never been open when I strolled by. There were years of renovations and then there were trips when my timing did not coincide with any mass schedule. Coincidence or conspiracy – in my mind there was a bit of mystery to this church. There was always some little sign on the door indicating that it was closed, but never any sort of hint of when it was open. Was it on the list of churches that would close permanently? Was it a church whose members belonged to a secret society like the characters in a Dan Brown novel? In the end, I decided that the Pastor of this church simply has no desire for his parish to become an out of control tourist attraction like its nearby neighbor Notre Dame.
This year was my lucky year because the beautiful Saint-Louis-en-l’Île Church was indeed open to the public. While somewhat dark and very cold inside, there was a warm and gentle peace in this house of worship that made me glad to have ventured inside. I took few photos as to not disturb the handful of faithful dotting the pews kneeling in prayer. I imagine there is a comfort felt by its parishioners that their chosen place of worship will remain a cherished local secret.
I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than strolling down the streets of Île Saint-Louis window shopping, licking an ice cream from the famous Maison Berthillon and stopping by Saint-Louis-en-l’Île Church for a quick peek inside.
One mystery solved and a bucket item crossed off my list of places to explore in Paris. One down, hundreds more to go!
Sunday services : 9.30am, 11.00am
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