St Suplice: working out the Equinox, & walking to the metre.


Our first exhibit.  The church of Saint Suplice, is enormous, the second largest in Paris and only fractionally smaller than the city cathedral Notre Dame.  Saint Suplice boasts many fine memorials and artworks, including some works by Eugene Delacroix such as Jacob Wresting the Angel.   However, following the publication of the truely awful da Vinci Code, many visitors now come to see this amazing object above, the famous Gnomon of Saint Suplice, a large astronomical measuring device.    When the winter sunlight is lowest, it strikes the large vertical marble plaque.  When the sun is higher, the light obviously comes in from a different angle, and strikes various points along the meridian, which is the brass line inside the white marble strip you see on the floor here.  At the equinox, the midway point between the solstice points, it strikes a special gold disk halfway along the meridian, right in front of the altar, where I stood to take this picture.  There are a small number of other wonderful Gnomoms, dotted around the older, wealthier churches of Europe, including at least three examples in Italy, (Rome, Florence and Bologna.)    I was lucky enough to see the one in Rome, many years ago.  Thanks to good old Dan Browne however, this is probably the best known today.

Exhibit 2…

2:   Next,  in a first for this blog… a movie!   It is badly shot, badly lit, has truly appalling sound, and, once you pick apart the layers of  vacuous pretention, has almost nothing of substance to say,  In other words, a typical piece of would-be avante-guardism by a pretentious second-year art student.   It does however have a a definitive ending…  I will say that for it.  It ends in fact, with a meter. Almost the meter in fact,  since it is one of the worlds first.  It was placed at the end of this lovely arcade by the French government after the Revolution to educate Parisians about the new metric system. If you can bear the terrible sound, have a look.

Exhibit 3:  Some 19th century Op-Art.

these were the tiles along the corridor that led to the stairwell to our apartment.  I rather liked them.


Next post: our last from Paris:  female warrior-saint, burnt at stake, giant statue of a king-emperor, and hundreds of small caged birds, by the river Seine.

4 thoughts on “St Suplice: working out the Equinox, & walking to the metre.

  1. Love the tiles! I don’t usually look at video posts,. An interesting tidbit about the metric system . . . and I don’t usually look at video posts, because it requires buffering . . .of course it made it even more avant garde! i’m looking foward to your next post.


    1. many thanks to Bruce (above) and to Chillbrook (below), both of your reassuring words are greatly appreciated. I had almost forgotten in fact about that little video, shot with my phone, walking home late one night across Paris. It is just the arcade is so rhythmically, classically proportioned, and I had no idea it would end with the meter, so I had to fit that in at the end. It is a shame about the traffic noise, heavy footsteps and heavy breathing! I might even try to lay some music over it, perhaps. Anyway, delighted you both enjoyed.


  2. Those tiles are amazing. An interesting video. I rather liked your critique. It made me smile. I could just imagine those words being penned by the most acerbic of critics. I think you were rather harsh. Interesting to see the metre.


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