So Day 5 was the first of two days where we used our two day Paris Museum Passes, so to take full advantage after Versailles, we headed back into Paris and went to the Pantheon. Located in the heart of Paris, the Pantheon has alternately served as a church and a secular monument to the citizens of France that in many ways mirrors the rocky evolution of the French government during the same period of time.
The history of the building detailed on its plaques and signs spread throughout the structure talk quite a bit about its passage back and forth between religious and secular groups, including a renovation designed to remove religious iconography, including stained glass windows and the cross on top of its famous dome, and prevent it from ever being used as a house of worship again.
Despite its contentious history, today the Pantheon is dedicated to the history of the people of France and houses a fascinating catacombs beneath that is the final resting place of many of France's notable citizens, including Marie Curie, discoverer of the element Radium, and her husband Pierre. It's a cool, quiet refuge from the heat and bustle of summertime Paris, and I highly recommend it if you get the chance.
The dome is under extensive renovation for several years. Here you can see it covered with a temporary panel covered in smiling faces. I am not sure who the people in the photograph are, perhaps local patrons?
The renovations are also why we did not get a chance to see Focault's Pendulum, which is normally on display directly beneath the dome, where Focault's original experiment was carried out in 1851. As a science teacher, I was especially disappointed but still enjoyed the Pantheon immensely.
A statue of a soldier inside the Pantheon.
Some of the sculpture work dedicated to the people who have fought for France, particularly during the French Revolution. I loved the intensity on this statue's face!
Piece of a statue in the lower level.
A remnant from one of the Pantheon's many "facelifts". This foot (originally part of a larger statue) is dated 1836.
Piece of sculpture.
Another piece of artwork from an earlier incarnation of the Pantheon, this one in the shape of a lion's face, keeps watch from above.
Statue and crypt.
Similar to the U.S.'s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, this statue and the crypt behind it are dedicated to those who have defended France.
We also used our Museum Passes to climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, more that 350 steps up! The view was worth it, even though the stairs felt endless at the tail end of long, hot day of walking.
The top of the Arc.
The view from one side of the Arc with Basillica of Mont Martre in the distance.
The top of the Arc.
From another side, the Eiffel Tower is much closer and easier to see.
The top of the Arc.
A modern skyscraper from another side. Paris does have a modern business district, even though you wouldn't think so! It's rarely visited by tourists and doesn't show up on a lot of post cards, so its a LOT less famous than the historical district.
Me and Hubby.
A picture of us taken by a lovely British couple when we are hot, sweaty, and tired from those 350+ steps! Not my most flattering picture ever, but what the heck, there's the Eiffel Tower behind us and I think that makes up for my disheveled appearance somewhat.
Under the Arc.
Back down on the ground, there's a memorial in the center dedicated to French soldiers complete with an eternal flame. As an American, I associated this with JFK but it's nice to see that its a more universal symbol.
Our Museum passes were good at a surprisingly long list if museums and monuments for two back-to-back days. We really worked the first day to get our money's worth (they're a set price and then you can use them for as many attractions as you would like during those days, a bit like Disneyland tickets!) and felt pretty good about it the first day. Check back tomorrow to see how we used our passes for a second day and make sure to let me know what you think of our Paris trip below.