Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pardonnez Moi but ou sont les Parisiens?

If you happen to be in Paris this week you'll have made a startling discovery--there are no Parisiens there. The place is empty apart from tourists, of whom there are too many.

Let me reassure you there has not been a great plague or invading army that has wiped out the population. It's just that this week is the feast of the Assumption of Mary (August 15th) and Parisians plan their annual escape from the city around this feast--when their city is too hot and full of tourists.

In the days when France was more religious August 15th was a big deal. Processions, and big parties for anyone called Mary (since your name day was more important that your birthday in France). I remember the procession at Le Puy, a small mountain town in the Massif Central--the procession winding up through the streets to the Cathedral, with ordinary people, dressed in their Sunday best, following, singing. It was most moving.
I wonder if it's still there in what has been described by the press as Post Christian Europe.  Today you are lucky to find five people at Mass on a Sunday. Churches are closing. Priests are getting old and dying off.
And the Moslem religion? It is flourishing.

I didn't mean this to be a thought provoking post, but that is how it has turned out.


  1. It probably doesn't make me popular with any fiercely-committed adherents to a particular religion, but a glance at history shows that religions rise and fall like stock markets and national power . . . this is the way of life. It may be wise to keep an eye on the negative tendencies of any religion (Crusades, anyone?), but not necessarily to believe that the ascendancy of one or the decline of another is ominous.

  2. The place is empty apart from tourists, of whom there are too many, It called my attention when I went to Paris, I do know why people like this city !