23 October 2013

A Parisian Promenade (II)

Our trip to Paris was jam packed with seeing the sights. Our first few stops included the Eiffel Tower, the Musee d'Orsay, and the palace of Versailles, but we didn't stop there. With our 2 Day Paris Museum Pass, we were bent on getting to as many museums and monuments as possible during our stay. So on Friday, we returned to the center of Paris from Versailles and after a quick coffee stop, we walked up to the Pantheon.

The Pantheon was originally a church built upon the ruins of the church dedicated to St. Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris, upon order of King Louis XIV. As French politicians looked to secularize the country after the Revolution, the building was converted into a mausoleum for laudable French citizens. The Panetheon is the final resting place of Rousseau, Voltaire, Marie Curie (the only woman interred in the Pantheon), as well as other writers, scientists, and defenders of human rights. It is also the location of Foucault's Pendulum, though unfortunately, during our visit the pendulum was temporarily removed during some renovations. The crypt of Pantheon is interesting to explore but can be difficult to navigate with strollers or wheelchairs because of many levels of stairs. Without the Paris Museum Pass, entry into the Pantheon is €7 per adult.

The Pantheon, Paris

The circular area where Foucault's Pendulum typically makes it's daily rotations

Statue of Voltaire before his tomb.

After visiting the Pantheon, we walked back toward the Seinne to visit the Sainte Chappelle church. The church was built in the mid-Eleventh Century and is known for its amazing stained glass windows that surround the sanctuary. Despite damage during the French Revolution, much of the intricate stained glass windows seen today is original to the building and when visited on a sunny afternoon, the whole sanctuary lights up with their color. Admission into the church is controlled by the gendarmerie (French police force) that guards the neighboring Palace of Justice, so be prepared to put items through an x-ray machine and go through a metal detector. Without Paris Museum Pass entry is €8.50 per adult.

Sainte Chappelle's stained glass above the alter

Intricate stained glass windows of Sainte Chappelle

Stained glass behind the alter

Even the paint work of the church is highly detailed

The detail of the stonework of the church goes with the detail of the windows

The Louvre was our last stop on Friday. The museum is open late (until 9:45pm) on Friday nights, and we planned to take advantage of getting the most out of our passes by timing this visit for the evening when everything else was closed. The Louvre is home to the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and countless other masterpieces; but the building itself is just as interesting as the Louvre was the palace of the kings before Versaille, and Napoleon also kept his private residence at the palace during his reign - it's worth looking up at the ceilings and around the museum walls while you visit. And the modern pyramids through which you enter provide a unique juxtaposition next to the classic palace design. Without the pass, entry to the Louvre is €13 per adult. The museum itself is a bit of a labyrinth because of all the old palace stairways, but museum employees are posted throughout and will kindly direct you toward the direction you would like to go.

The Louvre by day

The Louvre by night

Lioness by the Lions' Gate of the Louvre

Ceiling of one corridor of the Louvre

Venus de Milo, created approx. 120 BC, discovered in 1820

We returned back to the hotel late, but that didn't stop us from getting up early the next morning to pack in more places to visit with the Museum Pass. We started with the Musee de l'Orangerie, the home to Monet's famous water lilies. The museum is small, but the staff do a nice job of crowd control so that the rooms never feel overwhelming because of all the visitors. Photos are not allowed inside the museum, and they ask that you speak in quiet voices. Entry without the pass is €10 per adult, but the museum offers many combination tickets with other museums. Those with the Museum Pass or pre-purchased tickets also wait in separate lines and will enter the museum faster than those without tickets.

Entrance to Musee de l'Orangerie

We decided to walk down the Champs Elysees toward the Arc de Triomph, and along the way stop at Pierre Herme, a macaroon shop that I read (here) has some of the best macaroons in Paris (Fun and important fact: They also sell chocolate). We found one (inside another store) at 133 Champs Elysees, just before you reach the Arc, and purchased a box that we have slowly been rationing - because it would be easy to blow through these delicious treats...


After getting a delicious taste, we walked through the tunnel to the Arc de Triomph. Please note: don't cross the rotary/roundabout to get to the Arc - it's illegal, the traffic is heavy, and the drivers are nuts. There is a tunnel that goes under the road and pops you right up at the base of the Arc. Visiting the base of the Arc is free to all, but for €9 admission per adult (free with the Museum Pass), you can visit the interior and the top of the Arc - which has fantastic views of the city. And the Arc is surprisingly accessible considering it was built as a monument of Napoleon's narcissism... An elevator is accessible to those with strollers or wheelchairs and will take you to the interior or the top.

The Arc de Triomph. And yes, I was standing in the middle of the street to
take this photo - but I'm smart enough to stand on the pedestrian island.

Underside of the Arc

View from the top of the Arc, toward the Louvre

Little Man was excited to spot the Eiffel Tower again

After the Arc, we took the Metro to the Musee Rodin, a museum housing a great number of Rodin's sculptures at his former home. I wanted to see "The Thinker" - and we probably wouldn't have paid the €6 adult admission for our quick visit if we didn't have the Museum Pass. Others with a better appreciation of Rodin's talent will, however, find the sculpture garden and museum quite interesting.

The Thinker

The Gates of Hell

Details on the Gates of Hell

Our final stop in this area of Paris, though not the final stop for our Museum Pass, was Les Invalides, a military hospital, the Musee de l'Armee and Napoleon's tomb. I wanted to visit because Napolean's tomb was sure to have an extremely ornate enclosure, and I was not disappointed. Like Napoleon himself, the mausoleum/crypt is over-the-top and an interesting visit for purely visual reasons (even if you don't care about the history). Typically, admission to Les Invalides is €9.50, but is free with the Museum Pass (reduced admission is also offered to special groups and at certain times of the year - see here).

The building containing Napoleon's tomb

Napoleon's final resting place

The church that houses Napoleon's tomb

Les Invalides by night

I'm promising now one final installment of A Parisian Promenade to come, with a grand conclusion, if you will. So stay tuned for more info and pictures tomorrow!


  1. Ooh, make your photos bigger! That stained glass is so gorgeous!

  2. Thanks! If you click on the photos, you can see them larger - but even then the pictures don't quite do justice to the stained glass =)

  3. What a great wrap up! I loved Paris and am DYING to go back. My question is, how on God's earth did you ration those tasty treats? They'd be scoffed a 24 hours at my joint.

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