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Day Ten - The Pantheon, A Palace, Montmartre, Bikes and Arcs

Inside the Pantheon
(Click to Enlarge)

When King Louis XV suffered from a serious illness in 1744 he vowed to build a church dedicated to Sainte-Geneviève if he would survive. He did, and the Pantheon is here because of it.

I spent a good portion of this morning walking around inside the Pantheon, which is as impressive inside as out. From there, I walked over to the Montparnasse area, a theater and cinema district, both traditional and blue, which is on the left bank of the River Seine.

On the way back, I stopped by the Palais du Luxembourg, built for Marie de Médicis , mother of king Louis XIII of France. The garden area was full of people jogging, having picnics, and wandering about. There were lots of flowers and fruit trees and statues and water basins. It was a nice place to spend some time and take a break. Right outside the palace grounds, I ran into this fellow, also enjoying the warm day in Paris.

Meeting up with Fai, we visited La Madeleine de Proust for some refreshing Italian sandwiches, then jumped on the metro on our way to Montmartre.

Montmartre, meaning "mountain of the martyr," owes its name to the martyrdom of Saint Denis, who was decapitated on the hill around 250 AD. Saint Denis was the Bishop of Paris and the patron saint of France.

Basilique Sacré-Coeur
(Click to Enlarge)
Riders Celebrate the Conclusion of the Race
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The Arc de Triomphe
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Atop this elevated town, the highest point in Paris, we found numerous shops and cafes, as well as a full array of performers and artists dispalying their works. At the very top is the bascilica of the Sacré-Coeur, which is featured prominantly in the film Amélie. The view from the front of the bascilica is remarkable.

Coming up the steps of the Charles de Gaulle - Étoile metro station, we sensed a lot of energy in the air as a dense crowd gathered along the roadside, many with signs and flags raised above head as they cheered and whistled loudly. Turns out we emerged just in time to see the conclusion of the Tour de France along Champs-Élysées. I would never have guessed bicycling would have such dedicated and enthusiastic fans. We hung around a bit, experiencing the buzz of the event and watched the riders take a final ceremonial lap.

The mob was slow to dissipate, so we thought this would be an excellent time to grab dinner. We found the Vesuvio Cafe and enjoyed some Italian food and wine while we waited for things to die down.

It seems walking across the road is not the best way to reach the Arc de Triomphe, as cars round the circle quite quickly. We made it across, however, with some timely dodging and cooperative Parisians.

Napoleon Bonaparte commissioned the building of the monument in 1805, after his army's victory in the battle of Austerlitz. His fortunes soon after diminished, though, and it took another 31 years to complete. Etched in the Arch are the names of 128 victorious battles and 558 generals. In the center lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It has become one of the most famous monuments in France and stands at the confluence of 12 major roads.

We took a ride up to the top and took in a nightime view of Paris, concluding another eventful day.

 

Day Eleven

Day: 123456789 101112      London, Dublin, Paris