The Roamin' Roman

Benvenuto! You have happened upon the blog of a wandering Catholic American college student studying for a year in Rome, the Eternal City. You will find here my pontifications, ruminations, reflections, images, and ponderings on my life in Rome. Ciao!

Wednesday, August 31

From Paris to Nantes!

Hello everyone,

I found wireless Internet access here at the train station in Paris, and my train doesn't leave for an hour or so.... I am traveling to Nantes to meet up with my friend Caroline and her family; I will stay with them for probably at least a couple of weeks.

I liked Paris ok, but definitely not as much as Rome or Vienna!! Paris has some beautiful sites, but for the most part it is dirty and smelly (of course, it is the middle of a very hot summer here too, so that doesn't help any). The people are friendly enough, I have not really seen any "anti-Americanism" or anything like that (anywhere in Europe for that matter, at least not personally), and most people do speak some English so I have been able to get by well enough. All things considered though, I liked Vienna much better and will probably not return to Paris other than to catch the train to Rome in late September if necessary.

The past few days have been a whirlwind - I saw many beautiful churches, but there are definitely a couple that are my favorites. The Cathedral of Notre Dame is fine, but I honestly didn't care for it too much. Kind of dark and cold, and lifeless. More like a museum than a church. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart was much more to my liking - beautiful and enormous church, sitting prettily high above the Paris skyline on a large hill ("butte") - not only is it very beautiful, but it is ALIVE. They have the most amazing Eucharistic Adoration I have ever seen, with an enormous monstrance set practically permanently in place high up above the high altar, in its own baldichino!! And they do Adoration almost perpetually!! They close off the entire center of the church for Adoration and prayer, and circle all the tourists around the outside. I went to Mass there today too, and they have an order of nuns (looked Dominican, but I'm not sure) present that provide chant and music for every Mass!! Splendid. I hope everyone who comes to Paris comes here.

Emmanuel is very active here in Paris (it should be, I guess!). On Sunday when I arrived we went straight to Mass at one of the Emmanuel parishes, very nice! Other churches were great too, my favorite church is actually one of the smaller ones down by the Pantheon, St. Etienne (or something like that), with the tomb and shrine to St. Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris - it is one of the pretties churches I have ever seen, with delicate white spiral carving above the center of the church, very bright and airy, and a good faith life too - it is one of the "youth" churches of the diocese I guess, and it is very full of the Spirit! It is funny, liturgies here are done very reverently that I have seen (and I assume correctly, I don't know the norms for France or Germany though so I can only say that nothing has looked wrong or "added") - but the weird thing is that the PEOPLE seem to have no idea what they are doing or supposed to do, or why... very odd, in America I have never witnessed the general "positional turmoil" that seems to happen here in Europe - no one seems to know when to sit, stand, kneel - even in the small parishes which I assume do not have a high tourist population, where most of the daily Mass goers are locals who go often. Either that or in Europe they just don't care what posture they use. I don't know, but it is odd and a bit distracting, with everyone seeming to just sit or stand or whatever whenever they feel like it. I don't know if this is a cultural thing or bad liturgical catechesis or what. It was in Italy, Germany, Austria, and now France, so the only thing I think I can say right now is that it is widespread! Anyway, enough blegging for today. All that being said, I have been very happy with priests here generally, and with the daily Masses in particular, which have many people attending (more than I thought there would be for "dead" Catholic Europe).

Other sites I saw were the Arc de Triumphe (very cool view), the old hospital (Invalides?) that has the "Dome Church" built to house Napoleon's tomb (weird, his tomb is down below in this massive open-air crypt, and there is a high altar/apse area just stuck onto one end almost as an afterthought.) I also happened to see, for those philosophers out there, the tombs of Pascal and Descarte (!), which are buried in two of the churches here. Hmmm. I did not actually go to the Eifel Tower, honestly it just doesn't appeal to me very much. I did take a photo of myself "in front" of the Eifel on the top of the Arc de Triumphe though - does that count?

Mostly I just walked the streets of Paris.... and walked and walked and walked. Wow, lots of streets, many very beautiful little neighborhoods. Paris does not have a real "center" (like Vienna or Rome), instead it is spread out over many neighborhoods. The Gardens of Luxemburg and the Pantheon were right by where I was "living" for the past few days, a wonderful little neighborhood full of tiny streets and shops and places to eat. The food here is really good! I have been staying with a friend of Caroline's, her name is Maylis (May-lees) and she has the teeneyest flat (apartment) I think I have ever seen outside of a dorm room, but very cozy. I am very grateful to her for her hospitality (considering she and I didn't know each other at all before I got here, being each "friends of friends"!) - thank you Maylis!!

I will hopefully have Internet access again when I get to Nantes - and I can upload more pictures then I hope. I do not have very many on the computer yet from Paris just now.

You are all in my prayers!!! I hope and pray that all is well back home! And hello to all those other folks who have found their way to this site, thank you so much for all your e-mails and comments! I hope (one of these days) to sit down long enough with an Internet connection to respond to everyone.


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