It was a cold rainy day. The streets, the buildings and the greenery looked bathed and fresh. People huddled in warm clothes, covered in raincoats and under umbrellas hurried about their business. Some sat peering into news papers or gazing out windows, at all the activity. People sat, passing time, sipping with steaming coffee and eating breakfast. I watched them all from the bus station before hopping on and off the tour bus at Gare de Nord in Paris. The driver wished me a great day, checked my ticket, handed me some pamphlets, a route map and an earphone. Taking a window seat, I plugged my ear set into the socket provided in the bus and listened carefully to the audio describing where we were, the importance of all the places around, where the bus was headed, the next stop and a recap of the sites around it. As we drove along, I observed that Paris is a huge city, with many squares. Roads from many places converge to a round-about to diverge again to many other places of varied interests and ages.
My schedule for the day was to visit as many places on the map as possible. I wanted to try and find some new places around the famed tourist attractions. Learning that I had to I alight at the Rue de St. Severine, to reach the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, I got off and walked a few meters north, crossing the bridge above the Seine, to reach the landmark. I joined the thousands of tourists who braved the rain and cold to experience the heritage of the largest cathedral in Paris.
Having filled my brain with thoughts about the great heritage monument and my camera with enough pictures I now needed food for my growling stomach. Walking around a few expensive restaurants in the nearby streets I decided to search for better ones at rue de St. Severine.
The street was crowded with souvenir shops and a small church happened to be in its center. Just opposite the church were streets full of clean restaurants. Each restaurant specialized in set menus at affordable prices. Think of pork, hare, duck, chicken, beef or just veggie you had it all. My taste buds enjoyed the lunch and being fully satisfied I walked out to spend a few minutes checking out the streets, souvenirs and the Church which gave name to the street.
Going through a pamphlet displayed in the church I saw that St. Severine was a Christian hermit of the 5th century, who perfected a very simple life, performing many miracles among the people who lived here beside the river Sienne. It was upon his grave the church had been built. It is one of the oldest churches in Paris, which in the later days grew into a religious seminary, college and hermitage. It was damaged during the hundred years of religious war and was also plundered during the French revolution, but was later reconstructed to be what it is today.
Entering the church I was astonished to notice fantastic stained glass works and most of all exquisite religious wall paintings. It had a distinct coiled central pillar branching out as a palm tree supporting the dome. Reverently going around the nave as well as the lateral aisles I realized I had stumbled upon a hidden treasure. I realized that I was lucky that the spare few moments spent for the visit to Notre Dame de Paris would have been incomplete without the visit to rue St. Severine and its marvelous old church.
Coming out of the church and thinking, I still could not get over the feeling of experiencing heritage at its oldest. Surely my visit to the rue St. Severine provided me more than enough tasty food for the body and to the insatiable appetite for my mind a great pleasure of discovery as well as the feeling of finding the best souvenir of immense satisfaction.