Let’s carry on straight ahead and turn left onto rue Saint-Martin to see an other church, Saint-Nicolas des Champs.
During the Middle Ages, many churches were under the patronage
of Nicolas, protector of sailors and boatmen.
At the beginning of the 12th century, Saint-Nicolas des Champs was a chapel, located in the country outside the walls of Paris, belonging to the Abbey of
The edifice was expanded and in 1420 completely rebuilt. However, at the turn of the 16th century, the church was not big enough for the ever growing population. In 1576, the proportions of the church were considerably enlarged with new
The church that we see today is one of the longest in Paris and we are actually more impressed by its size itself than by its very simple architecture. This simplicity may come from the fact that the church was hidden by high surrounding
houses and basically only the gate was exposed on the southern side, rue Cunin Gridaine.
This small elegant gate on the southern side is a copy of a gate of the Royal Hotel des Tournelles, demolished after King Henri II died there in 1559 from the wounds he received in a joust.
The last time I entered into the church, it was Valentine's Day and it was around noon. I was immediately stunned by the religious fervor of the people gathered there for the daily mass. The clear voice of the priest singing
was rising along the high arches of the church. Outside, lovers were celebrating Valentine's Day. Inside, the priest was celebrating the brothers Cyril and Methodious, the Apostles to the Slavs. What a contrast!
When comparing with the photo taken by Atget ca 1898 showing the side of the church at the corner of
the streets of Saint-Martin and Cunin Gridaine, there are few changes
visible; a new clock, barely visible, the walls of the mass grave have been removed and replaced by a fence.
After strolling along rue Cunin Gridaine, where I saw very impressive ravens, let's cross rue de Turbigo and go onto rue au Maire.