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Paris, France - Night and day - 22nd April 2002

Posted by Edmond on Monday, June 24, 2002 · Comments (2)

My tour of the southern part of Paris starting from the Notre Dame and working downards to the Latin Quarter, the Luxembourg Quarter and St Germain des Pres. Along the way, I walk along the area of Pont Nuef, explore the Pantheon, Musee de Cluny and take a walk around the Jardin du Luxembourg. Later in the afternoon, I explored the Montemarte Quarter and the Sacre Coeur before proceeding back down to St Germain de Pres for dinner and taking night shots of the Eiffel tower.

Southern Paris, Montmartre and Eiffel Tower
1. Notre Dame and Sainte-Chapelle
2. Place St Michel
3. Musee de Cluny
4. The Pantheon
5. Jardin du Luxembourg and Palais du Luxembourg
6. Place St Sulpice
7. Montmartre Quarter, Place Tertre and the Sacre Coeur
8. Eiffel Tower by night
Links: - The Pantheon
Musee de Cluny (in french)

The Notre Dame was one of those attractions where I had to wake up early to visit. I arrived at the grounds of the Notre Dame about 8:00 am from the Cite Metro. The doors of the Notre Dame were closed so I walked around the Notre Dame to view the flying buttresses then walked along Quai de montbello to get photographs. After returning, I entered the Notre Dame and one of the things that caught my eye were the organ and stained glass of the north and south windows were the first things that caught my eye. Proceeding further into the cathedral, I passed close to the front of the altar but the whole section was closed, so I could not get a good view of the statue of Pieta and Louis XIII. Other areas that were closed from the public include the Treasury and the Sacristy. The light coming into the windows was also not very good during this time.

Leaving the Notre Dame, I walked to Sainte-Chapelle, which was nestled inside the Palais de Justice. Despite its size, the Sainte-Chapelle has some of the most beautiful stained glass windows on both floors of the chapel. The Upper chapel windows are probably the most significant since each window tells the story of chapters from the bible. However, it is the massive rose window of the upper chapel that ceases to amaze. Although it was early in the morning, there were more people in here than the Notre Dame.

After leaving the Sainte-Chapelle, I walked around the flower market stalls on Rue du Lutece, which had just opened. Then I took the long walk to Pont Neuf, walking across Pont St Michel and Quai des Grands Augustins. Instead of going across the Pont Neuf, I walked up to the next bridge to get a photo of Pont Neuf. This bridge stretches from end to end of the Siene river, but crosses onto the tip of the Ile de la Cite in the middle. After taking a break viewing the Siene river, I decided to head for the Latin Quarter by walking to the Pont Neuf metro and making the relevant transfers along the way to the Michel metro on the opposite bank.

One of the first things I noticed at Place St-Michel is the large fountain of St Michael killing a dragon. Scattered around are various shops bustling with customers. From here, I toured some of the back streets around the Boulevard St-Michel, before entering the Musee de Cluny. This museum is significant for its Roman ruins that surround the old medieval mansion, now the home to the museum and its medieval artefacts. Unfortunately, these parts of the museum was closed as well as the Gallery of the Kings, so I had to be content with walking around the galleries containing medieval antiquities. In the end, I left the museum for lunch quicker than I anticipated.

The final place for the Latin Quarter was the Pantheon, which was just on the border of the Luxembourg and Latin Quarter. Originally built as a church, the Pantheon changed hands many times, before being converted to a public building in 1885 that houses the tombs of France's great. At the front of the Pantheon, a pediment of Mother France could be seen granting laurels to her great men. Inside the Pantheon, a modern sculpture was placed in the middle where the swinging pendulum use to be and along the walls are frescoes of Sainte Genevieve and a monument stands behind the modern sculpture. To the rear of the Pantheon was a flight of stairs leading down to the Crypt where the famous tombs of France's great were kept, some of those include Victor Hugo, Marie Curie and Voltaire. Although there was an upper level to the dome, access to this area was closed on this day.

The Jardin du Luxembourg was just a short walk down from the Pantheon. As usual, people were relaxing around in the park, trying to soak up the bright rays of the sun. At the Octagonal pond, children were playing with their toy yachts - the same yachts given out at the Jardin du Tuileries. Behind the pond stood the Palais du Luxembourg, which was closed today - it only opens on certain days of the month. Like with all other buildings of significance, the Palais du Luxembourg is elaborately decorated with sculptures at the top. In contrast, the side of the palace facing the street does not look as breathtaking, yet a peaceful atmosphere settles around the Palais du Luxembourg and the surrounding streets. I finally finish off the Luxembourg Quarter with a rest in the square at Church St Sulpice, in front of the Fountaine des Quartre Points Cardinaux.

With nothing else left to do, I decided to make a short trip to the Montmartre Quarter. However, I was surprised by the seediness of the metro stations as I transferred on to the line going to Place du Clichy. Clearly the people catching these carriages were less privileged than those living south. Furthermore, I couldn't comprehend why this many tourists would want to walk around these dirty streets, what was the attraction? I quickly hurried up the Rue des Trouis Freres to the Sacre Coeur where it was less crowded and cleaner.

Fortunately it was a different story in the Montmartre. Completely isolated from the rest of the city, the streets are much quieter and there is a village feel to the area. Right in the centre is the Sacre Coeur, it's huge dome and belltower jutting out towards the sky. Unfortunately, I arrived too late to take the climb up the dome or explore the crypt, so I only walked inside the cathedral along with the crowds of tourists. Bored, I left soon after to explore the rest of the Montmartre Quarter and already it had become dark and cloudy.

From the Sacre Coeur, I walked around Rue Azais and Rue du Mont-cenis before taking a left turn into Place du Tertre to meet the portrait artists. Around the square, portrait artists were selling their wares while casual observers admired their work. Despite the village atmosphere, the the square is surprisingly touristy, the restaurants and bars are filled with foreigners. Determined to escape the tourists, I walked down Rue Due Mont Cenis and turned into the steep Rue Cortot, passing the Musee de Montmartre. At the Rue de Saules I paused to look at the small vineyard, its prescence a reminder of the farming life of the old Montmartre. Further down the hill was the Au Lapin Agile nightclub, deceptively simple and quiet, but renowned nonetheless as a popular hangout for the privileged and famous.

I then worked back up the steep hill to Rue Norvins, also the boundary of Place du Tertre as the shops face on opposite sides with the terrace houses. From Place Norvins, I attempted to find Rue Lepic so I can see the windmill of Moulin de la Galette. However, I only managed to bump into Moulin Radet, only realising later its larger cousin is further down the road. It was getting dark anyway, so I decided to head down to the Larmarck Caulincourt metro to get dinner somewhere in St Germain des Pres and then making my way to the Eiffel Tower to see it lit up. But it was a long walk down the hill along Avenue Junot before I arrived at the metro station which was on Rue Lamarck.

After dinner, I caught the metro to Passy and eventually found my way through the darkness to the Avenue de New York. From the Pont de Bir Hakeim, I could take clear photos of the Eiffel Tower and the Seine River then walked up the river. I walked until I arrived at the Palais de Challiot where many other tourists have gathered to take night shots of the tower. I was surprised by how bright the tower was lit up for the night, so in my opinion, any good ISO 400 film with a tripod would give good results. I walked across the Pont Diena and under the tower to Parc du Champ de Mars, but there wasn't much to see.

Since it was fairly late, I decided it was time to head back for some rest. By the end of the day, I was amazed at how much I had covered of Paris so it is fairly rewarding at the end to cover about four districts and still have time to take some night photos.

Edmond, 2002