|Mom and daughter waiting to enter church|
|organ at Saint-Louis|
|Waiting to sing in Mass|
|Waiting to sing!|
We began our day with a trek back to the area around Notre Dame, to sing as part of a Mass at Ile. Saint-Louis. The church was ornate, but smaller than some of the cathedrals and churches we have visited, with a serene environment. The mass was a very traditional one, with numerous priests and altar boys participating in the service. One small altar boy held a book above his head for the main priest to read from, while another shook incense at various points of the mass (some of us were hoping we wouldn't start coughing--- the incense became rather strong at times!).
The choir sat directly across from the priests and altar boys on each side of the altar, singing "Jubilate Deo", "Non Nobis Domine", "Wondrous Love", and "Ave Maria" as part of the Mass. Following the Mass, the choir was able to sing a few pieces for the congregation including "Bright Morning Stars", "Medieval Gloria", and "La Providence". Etienne (our tour guide) told us that his wife attended that Mass and that she had tears, thinking it was so beautiful. Many of us, especially the students, were emotional at hearing "La Providence" for the last time with this group.
We have all heard about the Chateau du Versailles, Marie Antoinette, and the French Revolution, but to be at Versailles helped us all better understand the extreme extravagance of the royalty in the mid-late 1700's. Even now, we find we can't truly imagine the scale of the land included as part of Versailles! It is the largest palace in Europe and one of the largest in the world. In 1789, 6,000 women (many mothers) who were revolutionaries marched from Paris to Versailles, entered the Palace and captured Marie Antoinette and her family. They were kept in a wing of the building now known as the Louvre, escaped and later arrested in a town in Champagne, France. Marie Antoinette was later killed via guillotine in the Place de la Concord (where a plaque now marks the spot). The tour of Versailles was challenging as hundreds and hundreds of tourists were trying to move through the same rooms, and getting through doorways was cramped and hot. We learned that in one room, King Louis the XVI decided to send troops to help the colonists fight the British in the New World. In the Hall of Mirrors the Treaty of Versailles was signed (and where many U.S. presidents were received by the king. The gardens and fountains were truly incredible.
Following Versailles, we headed to our hotel to change for dinner. Dinner was in a quiet restaurant with a lovely meal including a quiche that was probably the best many of us had ever eaten. Some dressed up for the evening, while others dressed for comfort---everyone was in high spirits and looking forward to the evening cruise. The bus took us to the Seine river for our night cruise around Paris. While a little rain did fall, most stayed at the open top of the boat to take pictures and take in the beautiful sunset and brightly lit Eiffel Tower.
|sunset over Paris|
|Notre Dame from Seine at night|
|Gazing at the water|
|Excited for the evening|
The return back to the hotel was jovial and sentimental, with Michael thanking the group for being extraordinary in how they carried themselves throughout the tour, how well they represented SMWC, and how the choir performed. Professional and exceptional---Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Woods Women!
Now for a wake up call at 5:30 a.m. and a long trip back home tomorrow. It is hard to believe that the end of our Choir Tour in France has arrived. At times it feels like our time on the Normandy Beaches was months ago, and at other times it feels we just landed in the airport. Regardless, the amazing memories and experiences we had as a group will remain, for they have shaped and transformed each one of us. Thank you to all who helped to support the students who came on this trip, and for your thoughts and prayers back home. It's been a tremendous journey!