Thursday, February 11, 2016

Downward Dog in Paris


Yoga on the rooftop of La maison blanche


Yoga is all the rage not only in the United States but now in France with yoga centers popping up everywhere in Paris. Classes are being offered in a wide range of venues and locations from posh spa like centers to free yoga classes in the Tuileries Garden. During the summer months you can get on your mats on the roof of BHV or the Maison Blanche and be treated to spectacular views of Paris.

The possibility of combining the health benefits and the relaxation of yoga to your vacation plans in the City of Lights is as easy as “Om”. In fact, it is a perfect match. What could be better than to balance a highly charged week of sight seeing with one or more yoga sessions?  

A good place to begin is by perusing the website Yogateau. In one convenient location is a plethora of information on yoga in Paris. They have compiled an excellent list of the majority of studios with their addresses, telephone numbers and their mètro stops. They also let you know if the center offers classes in English. For example, BeYoga in the 14th advertises that all of their teachers are fluent. Plus, most of the instructors on staff at Yoga Yoga in the 7th and Paris Yoga in the 8th are either fluent or they have a good grasp of English. 

If your interest is to have more of a spa experience, I suggest le Tigre Yoga in the 16th. Le Tigre has a Hammam and provides a variety of massage work and holistic therapies including Ayurvédique and Shiatsu treatments. A lovely vegetarian Café has opened in this center where all of their dishes are prepared with only fresh organic produce. Another nice perk, for those of you visiting Paris with your little ones, is that this center offers yoga for children. 

Cost is often a factor, particularly when traveling on a budget. Therefore, let me introduce you to the Meetup Group, Affordable Yoga in Paris, founded in January of 2013. Their goal is simple: they wish to make yoga and fitness affordable for everyone who would like to stay fit, re-start their practice or just give it a try. The instructors are fully qualified through Yoga Alliance. The cost is 5€ a class or you can purchase a block of ten classes for 45€. Once you sign up, you will be advised by email where the classes are to be held. This Meetup Group attempts to make classes accessible to as many people as possible so the location will rotate from one section of Paris to another. You simply sign up online! 

If you wish to have affordable yoga that is more structured check out Affordable Yoga Fitness. The cost for a new member is 30€ with 30 days of unlimited classes. If you want only to “drop in” for one 60 minute class, no problem. The cost for one fitness session is 5€. With this kind of savings, I am sure you will be wanting to purchase blocks of 5, 10, 25 or 50 classes. What is particularly attractive about Affordable Yoga Fitness is that there is no expiration for blocks of classes purchased. For anyone who will be staying in Paris for an extended period of time, this is a great way to help get you on the “mat” and not be worried that work, school or travel will interfere with your ability to schedule before the time restrictions imposed by many studios.

Another terrific concept is “Happy Hour Yoga”. This was introduced by BeYoga who schedules a one and a half hour session of yoga at the reduced rate of 12€. This is nearly half of their usual fee. You can sign up for Happy Hour Yoga at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday and Friday mornings and at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. BeYoga is located at 17 rue Campagne Première in the 14th and all of the instructors speak English.

Most of the studios in Paris will have mats available at no extra fee. (There are only a few that charge a small rental fee.) Manduka is a brand that I am very fond of and they sell a lovely, light weight, affordable travel mat. Having your own travel mat may be interesting to consider as part of your travel gear. If you will be participating in any of the summer Meetup Groups in one of the beautiful parks in Paris, it will prove to be a very practical and comfortable choice. 

It is normal that some of our readers will be inclined to want an instructor who provides a class in their native language. I would like to encourage you to sign up even if there is not an English speaking instructor available. Chances are good that they will know enough English to provide basic assistance and while you are in Paris full emersion can be a lot of fun and a great way to meet new friends.

I leave you with the translation of the beautiful Yoga Teacher Student Prayer and an invitation to make yoga a part of your next visit to Paris. 

May we be protected together.
May we be nourished together.
May we create strength among one another.
May our study be filled with brilliance and light.
May there be no hostility between us.
Om peace, peace, peace.

Namasté *



NOTES: 
* Namasté is used as a respectful form of greeting or goodbye which acknowledges and welcomes a relative, guest or stranger. It is Sanskrit in Hindi.

Meetup for Yogis & Yoginis of Paris: http://www.meetup.com/yogis-and-yoginis-of-paris/
Website for general information on yoga in Paris: http://www.yogateau.com/retreats-in-france/

This article appeared in Bonjour Paris. Here is the link plus more photos: https://bonjourparis.com/downward-dog-in-paris-yoga-centers-in-the-city/


Happy Valentine Day !


Je vous souhaite 
une 
Bonne Saint-Valentin !

Loui

Bringing Back the Literary Salon


The 21st century salon in Paris
Parisian Salon

The salon was invented by the Italians in the 16th century and it was quickly adopted by the French where the salons flourished through the 17th and 18th centuries. Throughout the 17th century, the salon was often held in the bedroom of the hostess where she would be reclining on her bed while those in attendance sat in chairs or stools. In general, the concept for a salon is that it is a gathering of people for the exchange of ideas, art and literature. These gatherings continued up until the 1940‘s most notably with those hosted by Gertrude Stein.

As we enter the twenty-fist century, the Café de la Culture and BonAppetour joined to provide a modern day salon hosted by Florence in her beautiful home in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. 

Tactus

The Café de la Culture is an international venue for the unique and diverse population of artists, thinkers and visionaries of Paris. Their goal is to create meeting places for the bohemian, cultural, scientific, philosophical and literary communities of Paris. In brief, they are creating the modern day salon.

BonAppetour is a world wide dining experience where travelers are hosted by locals in their homes. BonAppetour connects the hosts and guests, confirms the dates and arranges for dining preferences and payment. This is one of the newest concepts for an authentic home-cooked meal in a private setting.

The result of their collaboration was a modern day salon transporting the guests to the 18th century through music, candlelight and period costumed actors mingling with the guests.

The beautifully appointed, candlelit apartment of Florence set the stage with its paintings, hanging tapestries and a fire crackling in the grand fireplace of her salon. The musical group, Tactus, played works by Frescobaldi, Kapsberger, Gabrielle, Bach and Vivaldi. The ensemble Tactus is a trio known for their baroque concerts which are performed by Julien Roussel, violoncelliste, Jérôme Chaboseau, gambiste, and Joan-Michael McLean, théorbiste.

As the evening progressed Mauricio Romero played the bass while Jérôme Decourcelles recited poetry. Edith de Belleville enchanted us with her discussion on the literary salons of the 18th century and the mythical concept of the Parisian Woman. Edith offers tours in French, English and Spanish focusing on history and French culture.

While hors d’oeuvres were being served, Florence was busy in the kitchen preparing our meal from only organic, truly fresh seasonal products.

To make the evening even more authentic we had Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Emilie du Chatelet in their magnificent wigs and attire to entertain us and authentically bring the Bell Epoque to life.
























Links:




Edith de Belleville: http://edithsparis.com/#/

This article was published in Bonjour Paris and here is the link with more photos: https://bonjourparis.com/bringing-back-the-literary-salon-to-paris/

Monday, January 4, 2016

Bonne année à tous !



Je vous souhaite un 
Joyeux Noël et de 
merveilleuses fêtes 
de fin d'année !

Biz, Loui


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Peace for Paris and the World


The moto of Paris, France since about the year 1358 is the latin phrase "Fluctuat nec mergitur". In French this translates as "Elle est agitée par les vagues, et ne sombre pas". In English this would be "She is tossed by the waves but does not sink". The origins are from the boatsmen on the Seine going back to Roman times. This motto is now on the lips of all in France.

“Une pierre dans mon jardin”





Across from the Louvre is the historic Palais-Royal. Within the Palais-Royal is a large inner courtyard, the Cour d’Honneur, with beautiful green spaces accessible to the public for strolling and relaxing. It is an ideal location for a picnic especially within the boxed hedges or next to the magnificent Buren fountain.

Currently on display in this lovely space is the installation of “Une pierre dans mon jardin” (translated as “A stone in my garden). The exhibit consists of twenty sculptures by Thierry Courtadon. The sculptures are placed throughout the garden. They are large and completely made from volvic rock.

Courtadon has used valvic rock taken mostly from mines and quarries near the town of Auvergne, France. The rock is very hard and stems from the lava flow from ancient volcanoes. This rock has a distinctive dark appearance (grey-black) and was used in the construction of castles and churches from the beginning of the thirteenth century.

Valvic is a name that no doubt will ring a bell. Volvic mineral water is bottled in the town of Auverge where it is sold around the world.

This area of France was initially called Volcani Vicus by the Romans and it meant village of volcanoes. We now refer to this part of France as the Massif Central.

Thierry Courtadon has given the rock, although very heavy and dark, an airy lightness with its shades of grey to black. Often there seems to be a real sensuality to his form and polish. This is particularly true for some of the lace like components that he has integrated in contrast to the rugged quality of the natural stone.

The garden is nearly 5 acres in size and offers the visitor beautiful pathways, flowers and benches. It is a perfect spot to stroll among the sculptures for quiet contemplation and pleasure.

In spite of its hardness, this type of rock is extremely fragile and the artist’s ability to incorporate such delicate components in some pieces is impressive. In total,Thierry Courtadon used sixty tons of volcanic rock for “Une pierre dans mon jardin”. 


Thierry Courtadon began sculpting at the early age of 8 years old. His work has been displayed in Australia, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Switzerland and Germany but his atelier remains where he was born in the heart of Puy-de-Dôme. For more about Thierry Courtadon you can visit his website at http://www.ateliercourtadon.com.

The exhibit will continue free of charge until the 23rd of November. If you are not in Paris than you can enjoy a walk through the garden with my photos.

À bientôt !

















Made in France: The Perfect Gift at Artisanat Monastique in Paris



Welcome to the Artisanat Monastique in Paris

When in the US I look for a “Made in the U.S.” label and when I am in France I do the same thing, except that I am looking for a “Made in France” label. If you are a label checker, I propose an easy solution for your gift buying needs while in France. The Artisanat Monastique offers a large variety of products and services at fair prices. Everything that they offer is made in France with a commitment to the environment. As an added bonus, many of their products have a unique history that goes back hundreds of years. 


There are now seven monastic stores in France and they represent more than 200 religious communities. Products are diverse and include organic wines, painted earthenware, hand carved wooden statues, children’s clothes, cologne, beauty creams and food products. Some abbeys are performing traditional embroidery and some are offering bookbinding and carpet repair.
In 1951, an association was born to protect the monastic institutions in France by organizing and assisting them with the production and sale of the products that they manufacture. The organization is A.T.C. (Aide au Travail des Cloîtres). The important outcome of this association is that it has allowed the monks and cloistered sisters to support themselves. The association includes Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant denominations. 
The Paris boutique is located within the Monastère de la Visitation. This Order of the Visitation was initially founded in 1610 in Annecy by Saint François de Sales and Sainte Jeanne Françoise de Chantal. The pair subsequently established an order in Paris in the year 1619. Following several temporary locations the community settled on rue Saint Antoine in 1629. However, during the Revolution, the sisters were dispersed. Some of the sisters were able to regroup in the year 1807 and re-established their order in 1841 at the current location on avenue Denfert Rochereau. 





Many of the goodies that can be purchased at the boutiques are old favorites as moutarde au miel à l’Ancienne, herbes de Provence and olive oils infused with herbs. You can count on finding chocolate along with a large variety of liqueurs. 
Cassis is a french liqueur that is used to make the very popular Kir cocktail. A Kir cocktail is made with a measure of crème de cassis and toped with white wine. It is usually drunk as an apéritif before a meal or with a snack. The Cassis liquor has been produced by the Monastère de la Grande Chartreuse since the early 1700’s.
Chartreuse is another French liqueur that has been made by the Carthusian Monks since 1737 from a recipe documented in a manuscript from 1605.
I am personally very fond of the Miel de Chataignier (honey from chestnut flowers) produced by the Abbaye Sainte Marie du Désert.
The monks from the Abbaye de Sept-Fons in Dompierre are producing Germaflex. This is a dietary supplement rich in collagen, glucosamine, calcium and a variety of essential minerals to improve and protect the joints.
At the Artisanat Monastiques the list of products from practical to exotic is endless. With the holiday season fast approaching and the ever ending need for gifts to take back home, I encourage you to visit one of France’s Artisanat Monastique boutiques.
The Paris boutique is located at 68 bis, Avenue Denfert Rochereau in the fourteenth arrondissement. It is open from Monday to Friday from 12:00 to 6:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. There are three métros stops in close proximity. They are Port-Royal (ligne 7), Raspail (ligne 4 and 6) and Denfert-Rochereau (ligne 6).
Besides Paris, you can find an Artisanat Monastique in Lyon, Lille, Rennes, Nantes, Toulouse and Marseille. (The addresses and contact numbers are listed below.)
Website for Artisanat Monastique: http://www.artisanatmonastique.com
Other boutiques d’artisanat monastique :
Lille : Paravis Notre Dame de la Treille, Place Gilleson, 59800 Lille, Tel. 03 20 55 22 19
Lyon : 11 rue du Plat, 69002 Lyon, Tel. 04 78 42 82 45
Marseille : rue Paradis, 13008 Marseille, Tel. 04 91 71 32 87
Nantes : 16 rue de Budapest, 44000 Nantes, Tel. 01 40 29 29 02 09
Rennes : 40 rue d’Entrain, 35700 Rennes, Tel. 02 99 38 95 85

Toulouse : 11 rue Fermat, 31000 Toulouse, Tel. 05 61 55 51 00


NOTE: This article was published in Bonjour Paris in their October 2015 online edition.
https://bonjourparis.com/food-and-drink/made-in-france-the-perfect-gift-at-artisanat-monastique-in-paris/

Monday, October 5, 2015

Prouvé RAW at Austerlitz

Prouvé RAW

If you were in the Gare d’Austerlitz this past month you had a very pleasant surprise. There was a display of furniture and lighting by Jean Prouvé. This collection revives a series of office furniture and lighting from his 1940’s collection. Jean Prouvé was a multifaceted architect and designer and the objects on display were presented under a roof of his design at one of the station’s open-air platforms.

Near the conclusion of the installation, I had the privilege of being the guest at a cocktail reception on the “guai” to sip champagne and enjoy the exhibit.

If you are not familiar with Jean Prouvé, he was a French metal worker and a self-taught architect and designer. He was known for his skill to transfer manufacturing technology from industry to architecture while maintaining aesthetics. He was born in Nancy in 1901 and passed away in 1984.


It may be interesting to note that he was president of the Jury for the design of the Centre Pompidou in Paris.


grafitti art at Austerlitz

Monday, August 3, 2015

Enfant Terrible of Fashion

Jean Paul Gaultier


Jean Paul Gaultier, nicknamed "the enfant terrible of fashion" by the press in 1970, is one of the most important fashion designers of our time. The Grand Palais presented a marvelous exhibition of his history, accomplishments and, of course, his fashions. The show was outstanding and if you missed it, here are some photos to help give you a glimpse into the myths and fantasies of the Gaultier universe.


one of the many talking models that were eerily real
original unisex

bride extraordinaire
the designer who added sex (literally) to his designs

fabulous furs - WOW



great use of color

always fun

the look made famous by Madonna


handbag as a cuff

details



Sunday, August 2, 2015

Paris Plages 2015


Paris Plages 2015

If you are in Paris you need not miss out on a beachside vacation since you can head to the Seine and Paris Plages. The best part is that it is totally free. The beach opened on the 20th of July and it will be available until August 18th. Along the right banks of the Seine River you will find areas of sand, deckchairs, water activities in the Bassin de la Villete, cafés and lots of ice cream stands.

Check out the website for hours and events :  http://www.parisianist.com/en/attractions/annual-events/paris-plage/

sand and sun

visit the Petit Prince

relaxing in the shade


Friday, July 31, 2015

Yoga Vacation in the south of France



heading to the local village

Yoga is all the rage not only in the United States but in Great Britain and now in France. There are yoga centers popping up everywhere in Paris. Classes are being offered in a wide range of venues and locations from a posh spa like environment to free yoga classes in the Tuileries Garden. During the summer months you can get on your mats on the roof of BHV or the Maison Blanche. Both of these offer spectacular views of Paris.

The possibility of joining health benefits, relaxation and yoga to your vacation could be part of your next trip to France. I find the idea of beginning or ending a highly charged week of sight seeing with a retreat in yoga a perfect combination. This is particularly inviting if you will be based in Paris. Despite the many beautiful gardens in Paris, it is a big city and at the end of a week some sunny skies with organic food and gentle stretching is a great concept.

practicing yoga

A friend sent me a website that lists the yoga retreats being offered in France and it is quiet an impressive list. I immediately fell in love with the idea of spending quality time with like minded yogis in a quaint village far away from the hustle and bustle of my adopted city. Now that I have done it, I can see that this was a brilliant idea waiting to happen. You can also take this idea to seek out other retreats that may be better suited to your passion as running, biking, cooking or meditation. I even found a retreat on knitting and yoga and another on gardening and yoga.

The network of trains in France makes travel easy without the stress of an airport and security. The primary train stations are linked by the métro and Charles de Gaulle Airport so getting to your departure station is not difficult. 

I began my journey from Gare Montparnasse where I was whisked south past lovely little villages and green pastures. I took a direct train to Bordeaux where I switched to a local train for the final 40 minutes of my journey to Porte Saint Marie. You can buy lunch on the train. However, I prefer stopping in my favorite boulangerie (bakery) on my way to the station and coming on board with a picnic lunch and a good book. 

veggies at the marché
At the end of my train trip, I was greeted by my host for the retreat, Tamsin Chubb. Within 15 minutes Tamsin had me installed in her lovely home, sitting in the garden with a cup of hot herbal tea and a hearty slice of homemade cake. 

Tamsin came to this part of France in 2013 in search of quiet reflection. The magic of the region took hold and the idea of making this a yoga retreat was born. Tamsin came well prepared having spent the preceding years in training as a yoga teacher and then having worked in ashrams in India and France. Who better than Tamsin to open a haven of wellbeing by combining her love of cooking, yoga and nurturing.

There were five other woman who signed on for this retreat. We were of various ages and varied backgrounds. Our commonality was a passion for yoga and adventure. With such a small group of like minded woman we quickly bonded to enjoy fireside chats, healthy organic meals prepared by Tamsin, twice daily yoga workouts and daily excursions. All of this was mixed with a large dose of laughter.

Amelia Hodge was our yoga professor and daily coach. Amelia teaches Hatha Flow yoga in Bristol, England. She traveled to Southern India to gain her Yoga Alliance 200 hour Teacher Training Certification at the Sivananda ashram in Kerala under the guidance of Swami Govindanandan, Swami Tatwarupananda and Swami Nivedanananda. She continues to deepen her wisdom and self practice and was the perfect instructor for the retreat.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Caroline Nin performs Hymne à Piaf


Caroline Nin
The lovely Caroline Nin is continuing her amazing show "Hymne à Piaf" at the Essaïon Théâtre in Paris. If you have not seen it yet, do put in on your list. If you are in doubt, note that her show was voted Trip Advisor's TOP 3 THINGS TO DO IN PARIS.

Caroline is accompanied by Antoine Lefort on piano and Shankar Kirpalani on double bass.

She does some evenings in French and some in English. (Thursday night is in French and Friday and Saturday nights are in English.) Her show combines beautifully with the opening of the Piaf exhibit at the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand.

Caroline has had sell-out shows at Sydney's prestigious Opera House, London's Royal Festival Hall and the famous Spiefletent at the Edinburgh Festival as well as theaters in New York, Berlin, Amsterdam, Melbourne and Auckland. This parisian cabaret star has enthralled and uplifted audiences through her mesmerizing interpretation of Piaf's "oeuvre" with her smoky jazz-infected voice and spirited singing.

See you at the Théâtre !!!!


website: http://www.hymneapiaf.com
phone: 33 (0)9 50 13 61 00
website BnF: http://www.bnf.fr/en/tools/a.welcome_to_the_bnf.html

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Day at UNESCO

view from the restaurant at UNESCO

I had the good fortune to spend a full day at UNESCO and now I can share with you what is one of the best kept secrets in Paris.

UNESCO is classified as the intellectual agency of the United Nations that was created in 1945. Their goal is to help establish peace in an uncertain world. It was understood that a lasting peace could not be based on political and economic agreements alone. A commitment was needed to help promote moral choices and to educate the world’s youth. The undertaking to achieve cultures of peace, non-violence, tolerance, acceptance and mutual respect are the building blocks to a peaceful future.

The main entrance for UNESCO is at 125 avenue Suffren just a short distance from the metro exit Ségur (ligne 10). If you lock your passport in the hotel safe be sure to bring a valid driver’s license or some other valid picture identity card since this is required for their security check-in.
tapestry by Le Corbusier

On your way to UNESCO take the time to look at the extraordinary photographic exhibit along avenue Suffren. The title is Cultivating a culture of peace - the Alfred Fried Photography Award. This exhibit marked the start of the celebrations to honor the 70th anniversary of UNESCO and it will continue until the 31st of December 2014.

As you enter the main lobby, turn to the right so as not to miss the acrylic on wood painting done by Pablo Picasso in 1958. The piece is titled La chute d’Icare (Fall of Icarus) and it was commissioned by UNESCO to decorate their permanent headquarters. The painting is made up of forty wooden panels and covers a surface of almost one hundred square meters. (The flight of Icarus is a tragic tail from Greek mythology.)

On each floor there are interesting and meaningful pieces of art that have been donated to UNESCO or purchased by the organization. Their collection now numbers more than 500 items. It is varied and includes works of art by Miró, Matta, Calder, Chillida, Giacometti, Moore, Cruz-Diez, etc. In 2004, the “Works of Art and Special Projects Unit” was created to ensure the management, conservation and dissemination of knowledge for the collection.
Las Manos (Mothers and Children)

An extraordinary wool tapestry designed by the artist Le Corbusier is located near to the entry hall for the Executive Board. It was donated by Switzerland in 1962 and was made at the Pinton Frères workships in Aubusson. The tapestry is an abstract that represent the layout of the buildings at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. The design is simple and organized with solid colors that contrast well and provide the observer a sense of empty and filled spaces.

One of the most important works by Guayasamin, Las Manos (Mothers and Children), was donated by the Guayasamin Foundation in 1993. The painting is an impressive piece at 4.75 meters by 6 meters and is acrylic on wooden panels. Regarding this piece, the artist wrote: “Sorrow, fear and despair mark the faces of these women and mothers of the cities of the Third World whose children lie coldly shot dead; children, whose eyes, livers and hearts were torn out to be sold to the highest bidder; their children, sons and daughters, victims of violence, of suppression and torture by civilian and military dictatorships and victims of bestial war; millions of children who die of starvation and from easily cured diseases walk the streets and the dry land without schooling.......victims who do not even understand their pain...” The Las Manos painting hangs in the entry hall for the Executive Board.
entrée at lunch

After a morning tour of the most prominent pieces in the UNESCO collection, it was time for lunch. On the seventh floor there is a café and a restaurant. Both offer spectacular views of the Tour Eiffel, the cour de l’École Militaire and the dôme des Invalides. The café is small and intimate with light fare and beverages. The restaurant has a limited menu with a daily price fixed special that averages 23 euros. Their à la carte menu ranges in price from 26 to 35 euros. The food is classically french, well prepared with fresh ingredients and beautifully presented. The café and restaurant are privately operated and although they are not open directly to the public, you can reserve in advance. It just takes a bit of preparation to call ahead and organize for security clearance. With such good food and magnificent views, it is not only great for lunch but it is an ideal location for private party events and receptions. 

The next part of my day was to get a glimpse of the conference rooms and the general working dynamics of UNESCO followed by a tour of the grounds.

A visit to the charming Hôpital-Saint-Blaise


Hôpital-Saint-Blaise

Spring will be here soon with sunny skies and mild temperatures. Many of the courageous among us will be taking up backpacks and begin making their way along one of the ancient pilgrimage routes to Saint Jacques de Compestelo. For the less courageous you can travel the backroads of southern France by car to begin this journey and still be able to take in the scenery and discover the history and charm in this part of the world. 

Along the way, be sure to stop at the UNESCO World Heritage site l’Hôpital-Saint-Blaise, located in a tiny village of the same name on the edge of the Béarn which is the larger half of the département of Pyrénées-Atlantique and part of the Pays Basque region.

The church combines Romanesque and Spanish-Moresque art and is topped by a cupola of Moorish design. The interior of the dome has intersecting arcs forming an eight branched star and is modeled after the Mosque of Cordoba, Spain that was built in the tenth century. The building has lovely trellises and small windows made of sculpted stone. Overall, the church has a squat like shape and is unique in size, shape and design.

The interior has wooden seating that mimics the old synagogues that have separate seating on the first floor and another in a balcony. In the synagogues it was the woman who sat in the balcony but in the Basque region it was the reverse with the men having separate seating in the balcony. This tradition pre-dates the French Revolution when the dead were buried on the church grounds and the funerary rites were exclusively for women. Many of the larger Basque churches will have multiple levels of seating for the men.

Interior of the dome with intersecting arcs


During the twelfth century, Spanish wealth attracted a vast array of peoples to include nobleman, clergy, migrants and traders. To make their travel easier, a network of hospitals was constructed north of the Pyrenees. These hospitals always included a church. The Hôpital-Saint-Blaise is one of these rest stops. The first record of the church is from a document dating from 1216. At that time, it was already a place of pilgrimage and was called Hospital of Mercy and it was run by the monks of Sainte-Christine Abbey.