Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Notre Dame, Fondu, and the Serbian Cathedral

After Montmartre, we hopped back on the subway and headed to Notre Dame. We'd seen the outside (top photo), but hadn't gone inside yet. It was about 5:30 or 6:00, and there was even a line to get into the church. We walked around for awhile. The most impressive thing, in my opinion, is the stained glass windows (see second photo for example). I also remembered a story my dad tells about the French Revolution. Apparently, some of the Enlightenment-inspired Revolutionaries, after thoroughly desecrating any and all Christian symbols, devoted the cathedral to the so-called "Cult of Reason," and actually went so far as to "consecrate" Reason on the altar.

At 6:30, a mass began in the Church (NOT to the Goddess Reason), so we headed out. Unfortunately, the stairs up to the top of Notre Dame were closed so we couldn't go up for the view. But this may have been just as well, because I was still exhausted from climbing Montmartre.

Fairly exhausted now, we decided to get something to eat and call it a day. We had wanted to try a fondue restaurant, and our friend Marie-Jeanne had done some research and given us a suggestion for the "best" one in Paris. So we headed over there.

It was quite an experience! I'd highly recommend it to anyone going there. It was this little hole in the wall place that was so tiny one person actually had to climb OVER the table to get to their seat. (You can see our neighbors starting to do this in the third photo.) The food was simple and excellent-- bread and cheese. (Originally, fondu was a poor man's meal--they threw in all their old cheese and used up their stale bread.) Drinks came in baby bottles for some strange reason (this was the restaurant's hallmark). We were baffled by this at first, but then realized, after seeing so many people climb over the table, that perhaps it was to prevent spills? Anyway, it was an enjoyable experience and we met some nice people who were crammed in around us.

After dinner, we headed back to the apartment and rested up for church the next morning.

The next morning, Marie-Jeanne accompanied us to the Serbian cathedral in Paris. The church is rather inconspicuous from the outside (see me going into the church in the bottom photo), but we knew we were in the right place when the whole street turned into signs in Cyrillic for Serbian food and goods. We'd hit the Serbian neighborhood!

I was blessed to serve with Bishop Luka of France and Western Europe and two of his priests. It was a very multi-cultural service, with parts in Serbian, Slavonic, French, English, and Greek. It was the Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos, so the church was packed. After the service, we went downstairs and had a very lively coffee hour. As someone remarked, "You can tell they really enjoy being together." I've found this true in every Serbian church I've been to...

Last post on France tomorrow...

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