In striking contrast to the nearby Sainte-Chapelle and Notre-Dame, the Evangelical Lutheran Church des Billettes is austere and undecorated, with bare walls and plain-glass windows.
I went there one evening in the summer of 2008 to hear a concert of Gregorian chants from the 10th to 13th centuries, sung by unaccompanied men’s voices.
Years ago, I was intrigued by a short sequence of Gregorian chants in an otherwise unmemorable Spanish film, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to hear some more.
Well, it was, but it turned out that there were only two men singing at this concert, not a whole choir, and after a while the chants got to be quite monotonous for someone like me who knew little or nothing about them.
The other forty people in the audience didn’t seem to have this problem, so I suppose Gregorian chants are an acquired taste like a lot of other things. I’ll try again sometime, but with better preparation and in a more attractive venue.
Before going into the Église des Billettes for the concert, I noticed a lot of people on the sidewalk across the street.
I naively assumed that they were queuing to get into a disco or cinema, but when I came out after the concert they were still there, so I took a closer look and realized that they were all men, all fairly young-looking and somewhat muscular, most with short or no hair.
So gradually it dawned on me that this must be a gay bar, and a quick internet search later confirmed that this part of the Marais district is indeed one of the main gay neighborhoods of Paris, with dozens of gay bars including this one.
The agreement seems to be that they are allowed to stand around and drink on the sidewalk, but not spill over onto the street. Hence the red guide rope, which is what made me think they were lining up for something.
Location and aerial view of the Église des Billettes on monumentum.fr.
My photos in this post are from 2008. I revised the text in 2020.