Although it looks rather forlorn and even spooky, Saint Séverin sits right in the middle of one of the liveliest areas of Paris for entertainment day or night. The church is said to be a classic example of Gothic architecture, perhaps even more classic than Notre Dame. Alas, it never had its Quasimodo so has remained in relative obscurity. It is not without it’s own literary champion though. The American poet Alan Seeger (Pete’s uncle), although no Victor Hugo, immortalized Saint Séverin’s bells (including the oldest still in use in Paris) in his poem Paris. Here is an excerpt:
Come out into the evening streets. The green light lessens in the west.
The city laughs and liveliest her fervid pulse of pleasure beats.
The belfry on Saint Severin strikes eight across the smoking eaves:
Come out under the lights and leaves to the Reine Blanche on Saint Germain. . . .
Now crowded diners fill the floor of brasserie and restaurant.
Shrill voices cry “L’Intransigeant,” and corners echo “Paris-Sport.”
Where rows of tables from the street are screened with shoots of box and bay,
The ragged minstrels sing and play and gather sous from those that eat.
And old men stand with menu-cards, inviting passers-by to dine
On the bright terraces that line the Latin Quarter boulevards. . . .
But, having drunk and eaten well, ’tis pleasant then to stroll along
And mingle with the merry throng that promenades on Saint Michel.