Thursday, July 9, 2009

Day Five

I'm sure these photos have lost their charm for you. Yes, yes, just another morning in France hanging out at the Patisserie. But just look at Elena's smile!

The first place on our itinerary (yes we had one) that morning was the Pantheon, located just a few blocks south of the Latin Quarter. The Pantheon was originally a church dedicated to Saint Genevieve. The church's renovations were completed around the time of the French Revolution and the new government decided to change it from a church to a mausoleum of great Frenchmen. It is now a temple of sorts to the famous intellectuals of France.

The Pantheon is the final resting place of Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Marie Curie and Louis Braille, among others.

One particularly interesting feature you will find at the Pantheon is Foucault's pendulum beneath the central dome of the building. He demonstrated (I have no idea how) the rotation of the earth in 1851. He was a physicist, so I'm sure there's a complicated formula to prove this - although I'm not buying it! Ha!

The monument below says something along the lines of "liberty or death".

The main attraction, as I mentioned above, isn't so much the temple above as the mausoleum below. It's cool, dry and not that well lit. There was a string trio playing music in entrance and the acoustics were fabulous. You could hear the music almost all the way to the back of the crypts.

Many of the tombs resembled each other, so I will not post all of the various graves we found. Below, though, is Voltaire's tomb.

After our visit, we made our way back towards Notre Dame Cathedral. We stopped short though, and first visited Shakespear and Company bookstore. Shalyn was particularly excited to see it as this bookstore is famous for the authors who have stayed here. The owner, George Whitman, has made a point of offerring food and shelter to writers of any type.

I don't know if you can read it, but the little chalk board outside explains some of the history of this apartment/bookstore/intellectual meeting place.

The inside is delightfully crowded and full of chotchkies and books. It made me happy.

Shalyn poses on a bed that is offered to writers who need a place to sleep. There is someone quite famous who stayed here but the name is escaping me at the moment. Shalyn? Other authors who have enjoyed hospitality from Shakespeare and Company are Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell and Alan Ginsberg.

After our visit the hopped next door to the cafe and enjoyed a good lunch.

Or can I say that the girls enjoyed a good lunch and I tried my best not to freak out at mine. I don't know what possessed me to order an anchovie pizza, since I've never really eaten anchovies more than a couple of times in my life. All the food is fresher in France - including the fish. So fresh, in fact, that I could see the little hair-like protrusions on my anchovies on my pizza. Blugh - I just couldn't eat it. Well, I ate around it.

We made our way accross the street and to Notre Dame! Unfortunately, we learned they had just finished an ordination ceremony and the cathedral would not be open until 4 in the afternoon.

We contented ourselves, then, with exploring the grounds of the church and as we were making our way around, found this impromptu memorial to Michael Jackson. The French were very upset. In fact my sister and I saw these three ladies wearing MJ hats (circa Billy Jean) who stayed at the memorial for most of the day.

We did visit the archeological site below the Cathedral. Apparently, while doing some construction, the Parisians stumbled upon the foundations of the original Roman settlement.

I have a particular fascination with all things Rome and was very excited to see them! It was pretty neat actually, although it's somewhat difficult to make out what the buildings were. Also, the place kind of smelled like cat urine.

After the archeological site, we strolled the park located at the back of the Cathedral. Below, is the only photo we have of the four of us.

While enjoying an ice cream break, Elena and Shalyn decided to visit Sainte Chapelle located on an island adjacent to Notre Dame. Caroline and I decided that we had had enough of trooping around for the day and elected to people watch outside Notre Dame.

On the bridge leading to the ill de la Cite, where Sainte Chapelle is located.

I regret not going, since Shalyn tells me that it was the most beautiful and elegant of the churches we saw in France. Look at that stained glass!!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Caroline and I were cracking each other up and people watching. I have never enjoyed the art of doing nothing as much as I have while in Paris. Below, I managed to catch a common scam in action. First, you see a pitiful woman with big eyes and a sorrowful face. Then you hear "Speak English???" and then a xeroxed note is thrust in your face asking you to deposit money in a bank account or something close. Think of those Nigerian emails promising money for assistance up front. I cannot think that anyone would fall for it, but hey, there were about 7 ladies working the crowds in front of Notre Dame that day, so it must work at some point to go to that much effort.

Finally, the doors opened and we were allowed to go in to the cathedral! It really was amazing. You felt very, very small.

The bronze crucifix below, was a gift from Napolean Bonaparte as a "thank you" for his coronation. I don't know if you can tell in the photo, but it was life sized.

I thought I would take a photo of just a small detail found on the wall circling the altar. It was a series of wooden scenes depicting the death and ressurection of Jesus. These scenes were about 24 inches tall - just look at that detail?!

And of course, the satined glass was beyond beautiful.

We decided to go shopping in the Latin Quarter after visiting the church. I think Greek Quarter maybe the better term nowadays, since it was filled with Greek restaraunts. If you have a hankering for a pita, this is the place to go!

We did manage to find some cute shops and picked up some scarves, decorative plates and earrings. Success!

On our way out of the medievel section, we stumbled upon this romanesque church and the most delightful little park in the world.

We took our time resting in this park. It's neat how you stumble on some of the most random and special little places without expecting it!

That evening we decided to catch the lights on the Eiffel Tower. The sun doesn't go down until 11 pm though, so we took our time getting over to the park.

An evening picnic is just what we needed after long day in the city.

We were classy and sneaked out some glasses from our hotel for the wine.

I have at least a dozen photos of the tower at dusk. I just never got tired of looking at it.

Finally the lights went on and the whole crowd at the park oohhed and aahhhed. The flashing lights don't translate very well in still photos, but this photo below is the best of the bunch.


Elena said...

sigh. this really was one of my favorite days. shalyn and I also hit up a flower market on they want to the chapel. it was all just so beautiful. at the chapel we saw, it was such a powerful entrance that both shalyn and I had tears spring to our eyes! It it was really cool to hear everyone's reactions as they walked in, most people had the same powerful reaction we did, gasps of awe!

Shay said...

Totally, Elena! The picture doesn't do it justice--those windows were HUGE and the colors were amazing. There was a picture for every scene in the Bible through the resurection, moving left to right, up-down. Also, the glass started dark (w/the old testament) and got progressively brighter, with the brightest being the resurection. A-MAZ-ING.

The other famous guy who stayed at Shakespeare and Co. was Ezra Pound. I think Eliot stayed there too. Great place. Maybe if I don't make tenure I'll go there and become a real writer. Ha!

Just a Plane Ride Away said...

Bite your tongue, girl! One can never get enough of Paris :-)

Another amazing day, though as I read through your posts my feet are throbbing in sympathy. You girls did quite a lot of walking!

BTW, have you seen 'Before Sunset'? A friend of mine gave it to me and she said it was like a trip to Paris. She's right. If you ever get lonely for La Ville-Lumière, be sure to rent it!

Roxi and I spent the last two rainy days indoors watching various Pride and Prejudice movies: the 1995 Firth edition, Lost in Austen, the very condensed 2005 version (Roxi says Darcy's a stalker in this one). My JA book collection is now upstairs in Roxi's room. Maybe I need to buy her a set of her own!

lucylucia said...

JAPRA- Our feet were throbbing. We had all used Shalyn's blister band aids at some point that week!

I am going to request Before Sunset on my netflix queue today! I just finished watching Berkly Square - it's a BBC mini-series about 3 nannies in posh London circa 1890s. LOVED IT.

I can think of few things better than watching a JA movie! What fun weekend!!

Julia said...

I would have spent the day in the bookstore.