Sunday, May 29, 2016

Notre Dame de Paris

Here's a Parisian monument that everyone knows: the cathedral of Notre Dame. This view is, of course, from the dome of the Panthéon, looking right down the street where my hotel was, across the arm of the river that separates the Left Bank from the Ile de la Cité, and smack into the southern flank of the cathedral.

The bright blue and red building behind the church's towers is the Centre Pompidou, Paris' modern art museum.

What more can I say? I didn't visit the church this time, but I did walk by the front on my way to another neighborhood later on that day. It's been way over a week since I've returned from my trip, but I'm still showing you photos from that first afternoon, before I even left France.

Saturday, May 28, 2016


These towers frame the François Mitterand National Library just up river from the Austerlitz train station on the Left Bank of the Seine in Paris. It's the second site of France's national library, the first being on the rue Vivienne over on the Right Bank. When the library was being built in the late 1990s, I heard it referred to more than once as la TGB (Très Grande Bibliotheque, or Very Big Library), a take-off on the name for France's high speed train, le TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse). Haha.

I think that dome belongs to the Eglise Saint-Louis, part of the Hôpital Universitaire Pitié-Salpêtrière complex.

The library is part of a decades-long renovation of this section of the city where old manufacturing plants lined the river along the railroad tracks. Now, large sections of the tracks are disappearing under the rising mix of offices, shops, and university and residential buildings that are filling in the neighborhood.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Bleu, blanc, et rouge

The big church with the round towers in the photo is Saint Sulpice in the heart of Paris' sixth arrondissement. It's the neighborhood where I spent my first months in a Paris boarding house back in 1981. The church is huge, recently restored, and worth a visit if you're in the city.

Looking toward the northwest from the Panthéon's dome.

Beyond the church you can see La Défense, a high-rise neighborhood of offices, shopping centers, hotels, and residential buildings built along the extended axis formed by the Louvre and the Champs-Elysées. To the left of flag is the gilded dome of the church at Les Invalides. Napoléon's tomb lies under it.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Who put that there?

The Eiffel Tower is probably the most familiar and photogenic monument on the Paris skyline. It's always challenging to find new ways to capture it and I'm certainly not the first to do it from this vantage point. But it was the first time for me, so I'm counting it!

Who could resist taking this photo?

There are many other familiar monuments to see from the Panthéon's dome. Stay tuned for a few more.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The colonnade

We emerged outside the base of the Panthéon's dome, inside the colonnade that encircles and supports it. The floor is slanted downwards and out, to shed rain, I suppose. The details are amazing, given that this part of the building was never intended to be seen from so close.

The recent restoration makes everything look so clean and new.

I walked around the perimeter of the dome several times, taking photos of course, and changing the lens a time or two. Because our group was not particularly large, getting shots without people in them was not very difficult.

Ah, those corinthian capitals!

I mentioned before that I like to drag out the pictures, so I apologize if you're a little impatient to see the views out over the city. But don't worry, they're coming up soon.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Second stop

Our little group continued our climb up to the dome of the Panthéon, stopping a second time outdoors, just under the colonnade. As we waited, enjoying the rest, we took in the view westward toward the Eiffel Tower and the Invalides dome (under which Napoléon is buried).

Looking down the rue Sufflot. The big trees are in the Jardin de Louxembourg. The gold dome is at les Invalides.

When the guides figured we had had enough, they took us up again, climbing back inside the building only to come out again inside the colonnade. I didn't know how much time we had up there, so I started taking pictures rather quickly.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The ascent

Our climb into the Panthéon's dome went in three stages. Each stop gave us a chance to catch our breath and allowed slower climbers to catch up with the group. The first pause was on a balcony, still inside the church, under the vaulted ceilings.

If you look closely you will see, just to the right of center, the thin line of the cable of Foucault's pendulum.

One of the guides led the group while the second one followed up, making sure no one was left behind. If I remember correctly, our group numbered about twenty or twenty-five. Each tour can accommodate a maximum of fifty people.

Looking down along the nave toward the choir.

The Panthéon offers six dome tours a day, two in the morning and four in the afternoon. I caught the 15h30 tour. That was the second to the last for the day. The whole thing took about forty-five minutes, start to finish.