At about 9am on Sunday morning, The Sapling and I headed out to l'Eglise (church) St. Sulpice. We worked our way through the Marais to a bridge crossing the Seine to Isle St. Louis, then down to Isle de la Cite, past Notre Dame, and then across to the Left Bank and the Latin Quarter. Then we wended our way to Boulevard Saint Germain, a throughway created by Baron Hausmann, and finally over to St. Sulpice. It was another beautiful morning, and the city was just waking up.
The Grand Orgue, l'Eglise St. Sulpice: Paris, France
We were intent on getting to St. Sulpice by 10:15am, because the organist begins the prelude for the first Sunday service then. And St. Sulpice is home to one of the finest pipe organs in Paris. (For specific information regarding this organ and more pictures, see Les orgues de Paris.) Even more exciting is the fact that after the postlude for the first service, visitors can go up to the organ loft and see the console and organ up close. And then, one can hang out and watch the organist play for the second service! I had found the specifics on this in an article by Steve Fox on Rick Steve's travel website.
The Console of the Grand Orgue, l'Eglise St. Sulpice: Paris, France
The organ is set in a loft in the back of the church. The console faces towards the nave just behind the pipes below the clock (see the picture above). We sat ourselves down, along with a number of others who were clearly there for the music, not for the service! The organist, who we later found out was Daniel Roth, Organist Titulaire (the head organist), played a stunning improvisation for the prelude that showed off the capabilities of this massive five rank keyboard. We then sat through the service, some of which was supported by a smaller second organ in the front of the church. At the conclusion of the service, Roth played a spectacular postlude. We wandered around the back of the church trying to figure out where the door to the stairs going to the loft was. Slowly, a group of people gathered on the left side (facing back). And, sure enough, after the postlude was finished, we were invited up.
We climbed up a stone spiral staircase. Then we walked past the original hand bellows. On the right, Roth's program for the day was posted. We then came around and were able to meet Roth and admire the organ. He was remarkably gregarious and happy to talk to everyone. (More on Mr. Roth and the organ in a subsequent posting.) We hung out through the second service and had a wonderful time watching him play. The photo below was taken on the right side of the organ loft facing the nave as we were leaving.
l'Eglise St. Sulpice from the Organ Loft: Paris, France