After years of renovations, the scaffoldings have finally come off the majestic facade of this enormous edifice. Construction started in the 17th century over the remains of a medieval church; it took over a hundred years to build, and one of the towers was never finished. Inside, the cavernous interior seems to command you to be silent; several important works of art are tucked into the chapels that line the church. The most famous of them are three masterpieces by Eugène Delacroix, “Jacob Wrestling with the Angel,” “Heliodorus Driven from the Temple,” and “St-Michael Vanquishing the Devil” (on the right just after you enter the church). Jean-Baptiste Pigalle’s statue of the “Virgin and Child” lights up the Chapelle de la Vierge at the farthest most point from the entrance. A bronze line runs north–south along the floor; this is part of a gnomon, an astronomical device set up in the 17th century to calculate the position of the sun in the sky. A small hole in one of the stained glass windows creates a spot of light on the floor; every day at noon it hits the line in a different spot, climbing to the top of an obelisk and lighting a gold disk at winter equinox.
- Margie Rynn