Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Truancy at Its Finest

If I wasn't in class last Friday, at least I spent time "with" some of the country's (and the world's, if we're going to be honest) most brilliant minds.

Like Voltaire...

Alexandre Dumas, Sr.... (yes, the author of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo, and...)

and Leon Foucault (well, his pendulum, at least).

Plus Victor Hugo in all of his awesomeness. (But the picture of his tomb looks like all the others, except blurry, so... not going to share. Sorry.)

This melting pot of brilliance took place in the Pantheon, of course. First built by Clovis (well, HE didn't build it, but I guess he commissioned it), it was later redesigned by Soufflot at the request of Louis XV. It was used during both of these time periods as a church--first intended to house the tomb of Clovis and his wife, then dedicated to St. Genevieve (the patron saint of Paris) by King Louis, as he attributed his recovery from a serious illness to the prayers he said to her. (Her remains were buried there in 512 AD, but later moved, I believe.)

It was in 1971 that the edifice actually became the national Pantheon. It was occasionally used as a Christian church in the 1800's, but then officially became a secular building only in 1885, coinciding with the funeral and burial of Victor Hugo.

Soufflot's intention was to make the Pantheon more majestic than St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. Anyone who has been to St. Peter's can easily see from the pictures that this isn't the case, but the Pantheon is still incredibly beautiful. You can also really see the influence of St. Peter's in the architecture and the detailing.

This particular detail is what really echoes the basilica to me.

After the Pantheon, I rushed over to the Louvre to meet E, stopping briefly to grab a couple of pictures on my way in.

The Eiffel Tower peeking out from behind a wing of the Louvre.

The Assumption of the Virgin (detail). Sorry, didn't note the painter or the time period. My bad.

As previously stated, the paintings we saw were rather realistic and detailed for my taste, so I didn't take many pictures.
After leaving the Louvre and trying (and failing) to meet up with another friend that I was supposed to see that night, I went over to see the Arc de Triomphe and take a few pictures from the roof (and I'm really glad I did, because I didn't end up putting the other days of my museum pass to use, really.)

I like to think that this guy is welcoming me to the Arc, not declaring victory in battle or calling troops to arms. I almost want to insert a little speech bubble into the picture. ALMOST want to.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, including the eternal flame (which, I just learned on Wikipedia, inspired Jackie Kennedy to request that an eternal flame be included by Pres. Kennedy's grave in Arlington National Cemetery.)

Then, of course, the lung-burning trek up to the top of the Arc. No elevators. 288 steps on a spiral staircase. Somewhat nausea-inducing, but totally worth it because you get fantastic panoramic views of the city.
About 2/3 of the way up, there is a built-in break (hooray!), where there is an interactive world map showing all of the locations of large arches around the globe. Really quite interesting actually.
There are also dozens upon dozens of metalwork wreaths in honor of the Unknown Soldier (sent from different parts of France, and presumably different countries as well).
Then the last short trek up the remaining stairs, where the rewards is not one but many breathtaking views.
My pictures absolutely don't do them justice. You'll just have to come here yourselves and see.
Le Grand Palais
Sacre Coeur (very blury, I know)

A Sparkling Eiffel Tower

Eiffel with a beaming ray of light

La Defense (the business district)
P.S. I love Wikipedia. In case you couldn't already tell. :)


meagan said...

Hey Sarah. You don't know me (well, we ment once at institute but I doubt you remember.)I'm a friend of Amy's and I saw your link on her blog. Now I am living vicariously through your posts. But I am not stalking, because I'm telling you now. Is that kosher?

p.s. Sorry you got hit by a bus. I hope you're okay!

Sarah said...

Welcome, Meagan! Totally kosher... and thanks for saying hi! (Oh, and thanks for the good wishes. I am sore but otherwise doing great.)

Jess said...

The pictures, and architecture and art, are amazing. I am horribly jealous.

hknight said...

Okay so I LOVE that beaming light effiel tower picture! Plus I'm sorry that you got hit by a bus,I'm glad that you're okay!

hknight said...

Also, I have to admit I tried to really hard to not laugh about the whole getting hit by a bus thing! You got admit it will be a funny story to tell in the future... Went and lived in Paris for a while, got hit by a bus...

hknight said...

okay last one I promise, I just thought of the time we went to Thriller and you took a spill down the stairs :) good times! I'm laughing with you I promise!!!

Love and miss you, the boys say "Hi!"