Since 1905 France has been a secular country. There is no subject recalled Religious Education in schools, so people have very little idea of Bible stories. The study of religions is done during History lessons in collège.One would think that the state would have disowned churches and synagogues. However, when France became secular it took over the most interesting existing religious buildings and still plays a role in their upkeep. For example, our local departmental magazine regularly prints reports like the following. ‘Arcis-le-Ponsart is a charming little village not far from Fismes that possesses a fine 12th century church. The village carefully maintains the building and does regular renovation work on it to preserve this heritage. The latest project was to replace the roof and the corniche that decorates the southern face of the bell tower.’ They received a grant from the department of 22,096€ for the project. You will never have to pay to enter a cathedral in France as is now necessary in the UK.

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