Impact of religon in 21st century France

Above the village we have a Chapelle. Built in the late 19th century by a local man following a pilgrimage to a shrine in France.

From there we can see the two churches that serve our commune. The oldest dates from the middle ages, the newest was built in the 1960s to replace a 19th century gothic design that had collapsed.

What strikes me is how things have changed. Not so long ago we could have supported a congregation large enough to justify the capacity of the newest building. Today I would hazard a guess that no more than 3% of the population are practising Christians.

When we first arrived it was not unusual to see the priest in the village centre easily identified by his distinctive clerical dress. Not any more. Every year we have a charming event at the vendanges. The school has, or maybe had, a vineyard. The school children would harvest the grapes and take them into the square where they were trodden in the old way. One year the mayor was a practising Christian and announced that he had asked the priest to bless the harvest. There was a loud murmur from the crowd and many of them turned their backs. In similar fashion we were invited to attend a wedding. The couple wanted to be married in church. Not the new one but the ancient one. A large crowd turned up. We went inside but the majority stayed outside and talked.

All in all an interesting insight into life in modern France.


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I think that the scandals with the Roman Catholic church have contributed a great deal to loss of respect for the church.
We have the Diocesan magazine delivered by our friend.
I can’t help but wonder what Christ would have made of all these churches and the wealth of the Roman Catholic church in particular.

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Lots of people have a church ceremony for all sorts of reasons and for some who believe it’s a necessary sacrament BUT it has no validity whatsoever in law and you aren’t legally married if you’re just married in church. The only valid marriage is the one done in the mairie.

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Yes, and as it should be in a secular country, the only wedding we have been invited to was years ago when the Boss’ son got married. We dressed up, as much as we ever do, and met outside the Mairie before filing up the street to the church. It was such a laid back affair that, with another couple, we stopped half way for a drink in a bar. It was then that we realised that we were the only 2 of around 30 or so drivers to actually go into the church.

Afterwards we came back down to the centre, rejoined all the others and their wives, piled into our cars for the noisy convoy 15 kms or so to a large holiday park where all the food and drink was laid on.

There is research in this

To my mind, it is maybe that people have found ‘answers’ from science and technology that used to be an important part of religion. Probably just evolution.

Interestingly, a religion still going strong is Islam, along with increasing births. This may be part of the socio-political concern in France.

We got married in very good Jo’burg resto - it’s worked very well!


Oh sorry, obviously I forgot to say for French people :slightly_smiling_face:
So if you get married somewhere like a restaurant, what makes it official? Is it the officiant and/or the form of contract you sign or something else?

Paying 1000s per head in the local currency probably :wink:

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No need for apologies - I intentionally wrote Joburg resto to avoid appearing to contradict you.

We drew up a marriage contract with a local attorney, who issues the marriage certificate

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My husband and I married in our early twenties in a chapel. Those promises made in a house of God meant a great deal to me and have endured 40 years and counting. That was our choice.

Something, perhaps a bit superficial in the decline of religion is the decay or loss of beautiful and awe inspiring art and architecture, as it becomes a mere commodity. There are many truly beautiful churches, temples and icons, into the creation of which flowed so much blood and sweat and heritage, I hate to see the loss.

Understanding of the past is an essential foundation for our future. Without the physical places to visit and experience, it is a bit like a virtual museum visit.


It’s the combination of an official appropriately licensed to conduct marriages and the signing/witnessing of the marriage certificate (in most cases).

My cousin was married in her garden in New Zealand in a small ceremony conducted by her sister, who is licensed to marry couples. We were married in the rather splendid surrounds of Hertfordshire County Council chamber, a sort of mini House of Commons chamber, overseen by the official registrar. My mother was a Councillor at the time, and despite it being our wedding, still refused to sit in the benches normally occupied by Labour!


It’s something we’ve discussed quite a bit, how the determindly ‘secular’ French seem to have more churches than the nominally Christian British.

Regarding marriage, we tend to see it as a committment to each other, formalised to make things quite clear and give an occasion to setting aside the rest of the world. Not that being married in church (other institutions available) isn’t important, but we’ve also seen couples living together who are far more committed to each other than some married couples we’ve known. It’s the committment by both parties rather than occasion that makes the marriage last* or otherwise.

*anecdote. My wife lost her wedding ring while climbing in Derbyshire. Mentioned to a work colleague who asked if she felt like she wasn’t married any more.

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I completely agree.

The ring thing is more of an advertisement to others. Touch not!

Interestingly, I haven’t worn any rings since I departing my old life in HK. Taking them off and putting them back on dozens of times a day now just seems a bit pointless.

I don’t think my husband has noticed.


I have a ring but it no longer fits. It was only worn for special occasions since it wasn’t great in the lab, but knuckles are a bit bumpy these days and so it lives in a bowl on the bed side table.

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I had to cut off my white gold wedding ring with a tiny circular saw several years ago because I coudn(t take it off over my enlarged joints (Heberden’s nodes - osteoarthritis). I bought a much bigger silver ring later which serves its purpose!


Indeed there is. I do have a love of old religious architecture and will often visit churches or cathedrals on our travels. Don’t have a religious bone in my body, but I do appreciate the beauty.


I’m currently in exactly the same situation. I too have a white gold, plain band wedding ring. I too can no longer remove it due to enlarged joints. I’ve tried soap, oil, petroleum jelly etc but it just won’t come off and trying is painful. I may have to do the same which would be sad.

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As long as it isn’t cutting off the blood circulation to your finger, why not just leave it ? I’ve heard morticians have a special way to return it to the spouse.

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We agreed it had to be done !