1am is not a good time to be awake. However it was when our flight from Madagascar to Paris left. Air France loaded us up and we actually left 10 minutes early. A very long 10 and a half hours later with little sleep we landed in Paris. Once again we are staying near the Notre Dame cathedral on the Rive Gauche (left bank of the Seine). The train from the airport is so easy and takes just under one hour.
We dropped our bags at the hotel and went for a tasty crepe lunch. Kris had found a nearby place called La Petit Bouclerie that makes gluten free crepes from buckwheat flour – yum. We met a large American tour group as we were finishing and had some nice English conversation.
We have splurged for a balcony room at the Parc St Severin Hotel and really wanted to spend some time on it drinking French wine. So we found the local Franprix supermarket down the street and shopped like the locals – wine, cheese, salami, nuts. Some of that will be our lunch tomorrow.
The view from our balcony – Notre Dame to the left behind Saint Severin Church and the Eiffel Tower in the distance to the very right. Nice!
It looks like they are already starting repairs to Notre Dame – we might try for a closer look tomorrow.
That church in front is St Severin Church. It is one of the oldest churches that remains standing on the left bank of the Seine.
And the peekaboo Eiffel Tower view. The tower lights up at night and we’d love to see it from here, but we are both so tired today that we might just skip it.
Some snacks on the balcony table courtesy of Franprix (France’s 7Eleven).
The Parc Hotel from the street – we are the second railing from the top! We’re hoping this neighborhood will be quiet tonight (certainly no concerns about crickets or roosters here).
While we wanted to make sure we enjoyed our balcony, the Sorbonne is only a couple blocks away. We had to go see. La Sorbonne is the medieval University of Paris, dating from 1257, making it one of the first universities in the world. The school is several square blocks in size and is now made up of several different universities and research institutions.
There are two observatory towers at the Sorbonne, this is the taller of the two. The shorter one kind of hides behind the taller and is hard to see from the street.
The facade behind us is one of the entrances to The Sorbonne. The dome belongs to the Chapel of Sainte Ursule on the university campus.
We have visited the Pantheon in Rome, and today we visited the Paris Pantheon. Originally built as a church dedicated to Sainte Genevieve (the patron Sainte of Paris) to house her relics, it now functions as a secular mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens (les bonnes hommes). It was modeled on the Pantheon in Rome.
We walked around inside a bit and went into the crypts. Some pretty impressive folks were buried here.
Voltaire the philosopher.
Marie Curie is famous for her work in radiology (she was one of the founders of the X-ray). She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and and the only woman to win twice in two separate fields (Chemistry and Radiology). Unfortunately, she died from radioactivity-induced leukemia.
One of the large tombs in the crypt was dedicated to French writers. Victor Hugo wrote Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Alexandre Dumas wrote the Three Musketeers and the Count of Monte Cristo.
We also happened across a tomb for the guy who invented Braille (that is actually his last name). And yes that plastic bit below his name is in Braille.
We headed back to the hotel as we were tired. That balcony is sure nice to relax on. We went to a restaurant just a block away as we were both tired and ready for bed but needed food first. We are in the Latin Quarter of Paris, which we think is code for immigrant. There are lots of ethnic options along with the typical French cafes. The Cornier St Germaine is run by an ex-pat from Algeria and was full of French locals instead of tourists. We shared a charcuterie and a salad. We will hopefully crash hard tonight and be ready to tour tomorrow. Paris really is just a very long layover for us and not really intended to be an actual holiday. But Paris… how can you not see stuff?