Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Saint-Pierre de Chaillot

The history of Paris is intimately linked to its churches. Notre Dame, la Sainte Chapelle, Sacre Coeur... the list of ecclesiastical sight-seeing spots is well known. Visiting the churches of Paris is one of the best budget tours around.

One lesser-known edifice, one of my favorites, is Saint-Pierre de Chaillot. Unlike its Gothic, neo-classical or Romanesque sisters in Paris, it was built in the 1930s. Designed by Emile Bois and constructed from 1931-1938, its descriptions mostly say it is in a Romanesque Revival style, but I lean a bit more toward the Art Deco attribution. A bit of an amalgam of the two, perhaps. Certainly worth a visit when you explore the Chaillot quartier in the 16e arrondissement (on the edge of the 8e).

It must be a real beauty when it's clean. I don't understand the whole legal aspect of what buildings are required to have their ravalement every ten years, but St. Pierre de Chaillot needs to have someone wash the city grime from its majestic face. The 1905 French law separating church and state returned the ownership of the churches to the Diocese of Paris, but apparently their upkeep as historic monuments still falls under the budget of the city or national government -- that is, for any church built prior to 1905 when the law was enacted.

Sadly, exquisite St. Pierre seems to get grimier by the day. They have clearly done some tests to see what it would look like all cleaned up. Just look at the difference!

Oh, if I were a paid journalist instead of a time-strapped madwoman-of-Chaillot blogger, of course I'd make phone calls and interview the powers that be (terrestrial ones, not The Big Guy) to find out why. Meanwhile, all I can do is share some photos, which I took before the trees were leafed out so you could see the structure.

Saint-Pierre de Chaillot
metro: Alma-Marceau


Isabelle said...

The answer why they don't clean this church is that "Les caisses sont vides"...

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Good point, Isabelle!

I'm just trying to figure out why (according to what I've been told) all other Parisian building owners are required to budget in a ravalement every 10 years, like it or not. But that apparently doesn't apply to all buildings.

Isabelle said...

Wether there is a law to budget in a ravalement every 10 years or not, you must know, Polly, that French rules are meant to be broken all the time, especially when the National government is in charge!!!

Anonymous said...

I live near this church and lapsed Catholic that I am, neglect my obligations frequently. Still, I love the tolling of the bells signifying mass, weddings, funerals etc, and the Good Friday procession makes a good spectacle too. It even has monthly Filipina masses.

Just a stone throw away is the Greek Orthodox church and that is rather magnificient too.

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