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It’s been another cold Melbourne day, and I’ve been huddled in front of the computer all day wrestling with warfarin drug interactions and management of heart failure, atrial fibrillation, hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidaemia, benign prostate hyperplasia and obstructive sleep apnoea. The patient in my current case study seems to have it all. To help me concentrate, I’ve had Vivaldi’s Four Seasons playing in the background. (It’s a habit I’ve had since I was a teenager. The music helps me concentrate.)

This reminded me of our visit to Sainte-Chapelle. It was one of the highlights of our trip to Paris. Known as the ‘gateway to heaven’ in the Middle Ages, Sainte-Chapelle is one of the greatest architectural masterpieces of the Western World. It symbolises the Celestial Jerusalem, which is realised in glass and stone. The chapel was built by King Louis IX in 1248 to house Christ’s purported Crown of Thorns. (The Crown of Thorns is now housed in the treasury at Notre Dame.) Louis IX acquired the Crown of Thorns from the Emperor of Constantinopole. Later, he also acquired a fragment of Christ’s Cross. The chapel was built to house these relics. It is said that Louis IX paid three times more for the Crown of Thorns than for the construction of Sainte-Chapelle.

Outside view of Sainte-Chapelle

Outside view of Sainte-Chapelle.

The exterior of Sainte-Chapelle is mostly hidden by the Palais de Justice. Entry to Sainte-Chapelle is via Palais de Justice. Security is very strict with metal detectors in place. We didn’t experience it but I have read that queues for security can be very long.

Palais de Justice

Palais de Justice.

Our visit to Sainte-Chapelle was for an evening concert by Les Violons de France and the soloist Frédéric Moreau. The program for the evening was Concerto for 2 Trumpets by Antonio Vivaldi and The Four Seasons, also by Antonio Vivaldi. We arrived early as we were expecting long queues but were pleasantly surprised to find there was hardly anyone around. In fact, we struggled to find the entrance before we found a tiny sign in French directing the concert-goers to the entrance.

Entering Sainte-Chapelle

Entering Sainte-Chapelle.

Upon entering the chapel, we were bowled over by its ethereal beauty. It was late evening and the setting sun was shining through the wonderful stained glass windows. Everything was bathed in a golden light. It felt like we were stepping through the doorway to heaven. The chapel is modest in size, which makes one feel that a slice of heaven is that much more approachable and attainable.

The Chapel's rose window

The Chapel’s rose window.

The concert was beautiful. The acoustics of the chapel gave the sound the richness and warmth it deserved. Les Violons de France is one of the most famous French Strings Orchestra. Together with Frédéric Moreau, their performance was world-class. And what could be more amazing than listening to beautiful music in one of the most beautiful places in Paris. Click here for a brief video we recorded of the concert with our iphone.

Another perspective of the rose window

Another perspective of the rose window.

The concerts are held regularly. Tickets can be purchased at the door, from Classictic or FNAC. From memory, ticket prices were around € 30,00. Classictic works via the e-ticket system but FNAC tickets must either be collected in person, or posted to a French address. You will need to present ID and the credit card used to purchase the ticket.