horz line

Mystery–lover's Dream City

photo: louvre, fountains

Is the Louvre full of mysteries?

Paris Life – No 43

by Laurel Avery

Paris:– Friday, 19. March 2004:– This is a mystery–lover's dream city. The current popularity of Dan Brown's novel 'The Da Vinci Code,' which takes place largely in Paris, is a testament to continuing interest in uncovering the truth, especially if a conspiracy is thought to be involved. The Holy Grail, the Catholic Church, Knights Templar, Merovingian kings, and Freemasonry are all involved in this mystery.

For centuries the Catholic Church has promoted Christianity with an attitude akin to Jack Nicholson's in 'A Few Good Men.' "You want answers? You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!" So the real mysteries have been hidden, 'for our own good' as if we were all toddlers in a house where all the electrical outlets have been covered lest we electrocute ourselves.

Besides, if we decided to try to figure out the answers to spiritual questions ourselves, 'they' would all be out of a job. And to some extent they are right. You don't get into college before you've gotten through kindergarten.

But being someone who rarely takes anything anyone tells me at face value – especially in regard to religion – andphoto: saint sulpice church an inveterate mystic at heart, I went looking for my own answers and pursued the study of esoteric hermetic philosophy for a number of years. After moving to Paris I discovered that I was smack dab in the middle of what was once, and some say still is, a hotbed for mystical thought.

Saint–Sulpice church in the Quartier Latin.

After reading Brown's book and exploring some of the places it mentions, in addition to making connections with what I had already learned over some years of esoteric study, I was inspired to learn more. So I did some research, and the more I learned the more questions I had. That's the problem with knowledge. Once you gain just a tiny bit of it you realize how truly ignorant you are.

So I now probably have more questions than when I started this unusual quest, but also feel that I have gained quite a bit of insight into many of the mysteries the book discusses.

For those two remaining people who have not yet read the book – all right, perhaps I exaggerate, but not much! – the story of 'The Da Vinci Code' centers on the bizarre murder in the Louvre Museum of one of its curators, named 'Sauniere' – a name which is central to another closely–related mystery centered in southwestern France that oddly never gets mentioned in the novel.

The two main characters, falsely believed to be involved in the murder, are sent on a mad dash across Paris, attempting to outrun the authorities while at the same time trying to locate the Holy Grail.

It's a book that is very difficult to put down, even though it is certainly no great work of literature. Some of the research Brown did for the book could be considered faulty, and you should take it all with a grain of salt.

Nevertheless, it also contains more than a little truth and raises some important and interesting questions that get people to think about everything they have been taught about the roots of the Christian Church and the basis of much of what the church has been built upon.

It's interesting how threatened a lot of people are by some issues the book has raised. One must remember that this book is a work of fiction, and even though many of Brown's assertions are true, much of what is stated in the book as fact is frankly unprovable. It is really up to the individual to decide what is truth for him, and to pursue some of those questions for himself.

The Saint–Sulpice church figures prominently in the book, as it features part of Paris' 'zero meridian' line, a brass strip that is embedded in the floor, running from a special stone placed not far from the altar, marking where the sun hits at the summer solstice, to where it ends at a curious egyptian-style obelisk.

I did find it odd, however, that Brown didn't mention the nearby Saint–Germain–des–Prés church in the novel, since it is the oldest church in Paris and was the original burial place of the Merovingian kings who figure so prominently in his story. Add the mystical symbols throughout the church, and it's a wonder that it was not included.

I can't seem to find any mention of one of the most interesting and intriguing monuments I have found in Paris, whichphoto: mystery monument, champ de mars is odd in a city that has reams of information about practically every paving stone. In the middle of the Champ de Mars, within view of the Eiffel Tower, is a monument that was dedicated in 1989 for France's bicentennial celebrating the Declaration of the Rights of Man. It is built like a small Egyptian temple and is covered from top to bottom with esoteric symbols.

Mystery monument on the Champ de Mars.

One of the things I did find out about it was that it was commissioned during the presidency of Francois Mitterrand, who had a definite attraction to things mystical, especially if they had Egyptian–oriented themes like the huge glass pyramids in the courtyard of the Louvre that he commissioned architect I.M. Pei to design.

Then there are the gothic cathedrals, including Notre Dame and Chartres, which are considered by some to be 'hermetic books in stone.' The geometry and symbolism built into these remarkable buildings are believed to provide the key to understanding the mysteries of the universe, clues which have been hidden in plain sight for hundreds of years.

The fact that the gothic style emerged practically overnight, and the speed with which these cathedrals were built in a time of limited financial resources, including the huge amount of labor that would have been involved has suggestedphoto: stained glass, st germain to some that perhaps the Knights Templar had something to do with it, and may have laid the beginnings of modern Freemasonry.

Whether the answers to these mysteries have any basis in fact is for each person to decide, which is ultimately the best thing about Dan Brown's novel, 'The Da Vinci Code.' It's gotten people to at least think about some of the things that have been presented for centuries as unquestionable truth. But ultimately, each person decides for themselves where the truth lies.

Inside the Saint–Germain church.

As some people have expressed interest in seeing these places for themselves, I have created a walking tour of 'Mystical Paris' for those interested in further exploring some of the more esoteric parts of the City of Light. For details, write to me at mysticalparis@wanadoo.fr.

Text & photos, Laurel Avery © 2004

Speak French? Speak it Better!
horz line
In Metropole Paris
Latest Issue
2008 Issues
2007 | 2006 | 2005
2004 | 2003 | 2002
2001 | 2000 | 1999
1998 | 1997 | 1996
In Metropole Paris
About Metropole
About the Café Club
Links | Search Site
The Lodging Page
Paris Museums List
Metropole's 1996 Tours
Metropole's 2003 Tours
Support Metropole
Metropole's Books
Shop with Metropole
Metropole's Wine
metropole paris goodblogweek button
Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini