Behind a very ordinary looking door on the rue Lecourbe is a tiny corner of the Russian countryside, a beautiful wooden church built of red cedar, with a profusion of flowers growing outside and two trees growing inside! The Russian Orthodox church of Saint Seraphin de Sarov was founded in 1933, built with donations – often very modest – from white Russians fleeing their country in the 1920’s, many of whom settled in the 15th arrondissement and worked in the nearby Renault and Citroen factories. The area offered affordable housing, proximity to work, and a sizeable Russian community settled there. The first chapel was built out of old sheds, with two of the trees on the plot remaining in the nave.
The current church was built in 1974, and still houses the two trees inside (only one is still living, the other is just the lower half of the trunk). It’s a world apart from the busy shopping street outside, a peaceful haven lit dimly by candles and chandeliers and fragrant with incense.
I visited the church a couple of weeks ago when it opened as part of the Journées du Patrimoine, it also sometimes opens for the Fete des Jardins. If you have a chance to visit make sure you do, it’s a magical and enchanting place, a little piece of history nestling in the city, entirely hidden and unknown to most of the passers by.
- Eglise St Seraphin de Sarov, 91 rue Lecourbe, 75015 Paris. metro: Sevres Lecourbe or Volontaires