Monday, March 31, 2008

Paris Perambulations Part 2

Templars may be hard to find in Paris, but Masons aren't, in spite of the clammy hands the French press often get over Freemasonry.

There are at least fourteen grand lodges at work across France, of male, female and co-ed composition.

The Grande Loge Nationale Française (left) is located at 12 rue Christine-de-Pisan. The GLNF (35,000 members, 1,487 Lodges) is the one most US grand lodges recognize as being regular, and the only French grand lodge most US Masons can visit without risking their dues card.

The location is tricky to find, and not on most of the free maps handed out by hotels. Trust me, the overwhelming majority of Paris taxi drivers WON'T knnow where this is, and almost none will be able to find it. The Wagram Metro station is the closest. Inside you'll find a museum, library, a bar, and several lodge rooms, including the massive Grand Lodge room.

Grand lodge Room, GLNF

What is striking about this particular temple complex is the modern design that extends to the architecture, the furniture, even the lighting and artwork - proof that a modern facility can be every bit as impressive as an older one.

There are at least two lodges that meet at the GLNF Paris complex that work in English. Stability-Concorde, No. 29/42 meets on the 1st Wednesday, from September through June (except January and September when it meets on the 2nd Wednesday). Contact their Secretary at stability-concorde@paris.com

Phoenix Lodge, No. 30 meets on the 4th Monday of January, March, May, September, and November. Phoenix is a research lodge, and lectures are given in English or in French (translation to the other language is provided at each meeting). Contact their Secretary at phoenix3012000@yahoo.fr

• Several years ago, I had dispensation to visit brother Mike Segall's lodge at the Grande Loge de France, at 8 rue Puteaux (26,300 members, 753 Lodges). It's a half block north of the Rome Metro station. Their building houses the grand lodge room (left), a slightly smaller Franklin D. Roosevelt lodge room (named after the US president, even though we don't bother to recognize them, but probably named back when we did), plus a handful of very small, intimate lodge rooms for no more than 20 or so members. There's a massive dining facility with private rooms, and a VERY well-stocked wine cave.

In spite of the disastrous stink that came and went in the US when the Grand Lodge of Minnesota briefly granted recognition to the GLdF, and the subsequent fiasco at the Conference of Grand Masters of North America, there was nothing irregular going on in their lodge. It is male only, works to the glory of the Grand Architect of the Universe, and opens the Volume of sacred Law (the Bible, in this case) on its altar.

The Franklin Delano Roosevelt lodge room (GLdF)

Masonic politics being what they are, I am unable to legally sit in the same lodge with Brother Phillipe Benhamou, the co-author of the French version of Freemasons for Dummies, La Franc-Maconnerie Pour Les Nuls, which is, for a fraternity supposedly about universal brotherhood, pretty dumb. And pretty sad.

• The Grand Orient de France, makes its home at 16 rue Cadet (46,000 members, 1,052 Lodges), behind an anachronistic aluminum-façade that looks bizarrely out of place, like the international terminal from Charles De Gaulle Airport got plopped down in an otherwise charming street. The Cadet Metro is the closest.

I have been here three times and been told every time they are fermé to visitors 'today.' Maybe it's just to me they are closed. But then again, I've had the same situation at Les Invalides.

Two other large grand lodges are at work in France that also make their headquarters in Paris.

Le Droit Humain, at 49 Boulevard de Port-Royal (15,000 members, 550 Lodges), is a "mixte," or co-Masonic grand lodge. Maybe it's fitting that their grand lodge building is in Montparnasse, where Kiki hung out and the wildest part of the roaring 20s were happening. There's no need to have an Order of the Eastern Star in France, since feminine and mixed lodges have been around since the 1740s. (Likewise, there's no need for the Shrine in France because the French never punted the booze out of the lodge buildings the way only the Americans have done.)

• The largest female-only grand lodge in France is theGrande Loge Feminine de France, at 60 rue Vitruve (11,600 members, 351 Lodges). Again, female Masons have been in France almost since Freemasonry appeared. Often called "adoptive rites," Napoleon's empress Josephine was a Mason, as was American expatriate, dirty-dancer, singer and Allied spy, Josephine Baker.

• There are at least nine other grand lodges in France, and probably more.

(Membership figures are according to the 2006 numbers from Quid, an online French almanac, and are based on reports from the grand lodges.)

1 comment:

okunnurleitandi said...

I take it all three lodgeroom photos are taken to the east. Did anyone notice the diffrence in the placing of the columns?

Steinarr Kr.