Quentin is a historian specializing in French Medieval and royal history
Quentin is a historian specializing in French Medieval and royal history, and has worked in Notre-Dame for more than two years. A graduate in history from the Sorbonne and a native Frenchman, Quentin has a special interest in the history of French churches and religion.
You are a historian and an expert on all aspects of French history, but you choose to focus specifically on French Medieval history. What about this period interests you so much and what stories from that time would you like to share with visitors to France?
I studied history and chose Medieval history as my degree specialization. It has always been my passion and my favorite era since I was a little boy; maybe it comes from the fact that my parents took me through a lot of castles and churches while vacationing through France. I dreamed of being a knight, and that was the reason I started learning how to ride horses. But through my studies I came to understand that our society owes a lot to the Medieval ages, much more than we would expect. Besides, living in Paris, it is always fascinating to see the remaining medieval parts of the town. La Sainte Chapelle, Notre-Dame and le Château de Vincennes are just a few of the Paris treasures still testifying to that period of European history.
Before the fire that closed Notre-Dame in April, you led our evening Journeys in the famed cathedral. What are your thoughts on Notre-Dame’s legacy going forward from this tragic event?
“Notre-Dame was there before us, and will remain there after us,” this is something I learned from the teacher of the guides of Notre-Dame and it is very true. This tragic event that I was unlucky to witness with Philippe is not the end of Notre-Dame. First of all, I want to remind people that most of the art — paintings, sculptures, artifacts and other treasures from Notre-Dame — were saved from the fire. The only loss was the framework of the roof, the spire, and some parts of the vault. But the rest is safe. It will need a full restoration and cleaning, but I am confident that Notre-Dame, the cathedral of Paris, will rise up again sooner than expected. It’s not about walls and stones, it is about much more than the physical structure. The liturgy still lives on and all of the services and offices have already moved to the church of Saint-Germain-L’Auxerrois right behind the Louvre Museum. The music continues too. Musique Sacrée is still taking care of the liturgy in the temporary location, and they have concerts in different churches around Paris. I am sure that within two or three years, we will be able to enter a part of the church, still under construction and that the world will be once again able to see the cathedral from within
Now you are leading Journeys in the Paris churches where the association Musique Sacrée à Notre Dame de Paris continues to perform its concerts. Which churches are the most fascinating to you and why?
Musique Sacrée received a warm welcome from other churches in Paris in order to keep their activities and specifically their concerts alive, and I have to say that those churches are all wonders. Whether it is Saint Severin, Saint-Etienne-du-Mont, Saint-Sulpice or Saint-Eustache, they are all treasures of Parisian architecture and religious art, but I have to say that Saint-Eustache is one of a kind. For its place in the center of the city by Les Halles, the oldest market in Paris, its dimensions (the highest vault in Paris — even higher than Notre-Dame), and its very specific kind of architecture, Saint-Eustache is the perfect blend of the classic French gothic forms and the new (15th-century) Renaissance shapes — a must see among the different churches of Paris.