I have realized that during my routine weekend walks through Paris, the locations and places that I traverse are quite unique, interesting and of high touristic importance. On numerous occasions I have presented these Parisian sights to my visiting friends and family. How about just jotting down one such quotidian walks and through Paris, present a few of the numerous enigmatic but fascinating landmarks of Paris.
This weekend we went out with Sreyash, who has recently moved to Paris for his masters’ course (he also happens to be the son of one of Mitra's professor from Calcutta University) and we thought of taking him around some of our favorite locations of Paris. First stop was the bookstore Shakespeare and Company in the 5th Arrondissement, where we decided to meet.
|Books and page mark from Shakespeare and Company|
By the time we finished buying the books we were thirsty, so we made our way through the street adjacent to the cafe of the bookstore to Odette Paris. Odette Paris is famous for its Choux à la crème (I have a previous blog post dedicated to it) so while placing the order it is needless to say that we opted for some choux and for drinks Sreyash and I opted for some hot chocolat while Mitra as usual took a bottle of coca cola.
After a little bit of chit-chat, munching up the choux and gulping down the hot chocolat, we left Odette Paris and made our way towards the Notre Dame Cathedral. Yes! This is where in Victor Hugo’ian universe there is supposed to be the hunchbacked bell ringer Quasimodo, where in the real world Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned emperor in 1804 and whose façade with two towers is the second most important icon of Paris after the Eiffel tower.
|View of Ile de la Cite with Notre Dame Cathedral in the backdrop|
|From Pont d'Arcole with Hotel Dieu in the foreground|
|The Hotel de Ville|
|BHV Marais beyond the facade of Hotel de Ville|
Next stop was the perfume counter. I tried 'This is Her' and immediately fell in love with the juxtaposition of jasmine, rose and sweet smelling vanilla bean. As time went by the smell developed and the smell of sandalwood started to make its way. I'm over the moon with this perfume and its needless to say that it is my current favorite. Sreyash asked me to suggest him a perfume. Keeping in mind his liking for something very light, I suggested him to opt for an eau de cologne.
Following the shopping, we headed out, retraced our path, across the Seine, crossing the Ile de la Cite, past the Shakespeare and Company, towards Rue Dante. The array of bookstores on both the sides of the street are dedicated to comics. Ah Yes! I must mention here that it was a full moon night and the view of the illuminated disc over the Seine was magnificent. Ok! Now back to the stroll. Where were we heading to? You, (like Sreyash at that point of time) would soon get to know.
After walking for a while we showed him the 'College de France' which is a renowned higher education and research establishment founded in 1530, which does not grant degrees but each professor is required to give lectures where attendance is free and open to anyone. To be selected as a professor of the College de France is an honor and coveted by all academicians in sciences and humanities. Then we walked on, took a right turn and faced directly the Pantheon. It was originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve to celebrate the recovery of King Louis XV from his illness in 1744. Post the French Revolution of 1789, the National Constituent Assembly decided to convert the church into a mausoleum. It is now a burial site “To great men, the grateful homeland" according to the inscription below the magnificent dome. The greats buried at the pantheon include Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Jean Moulin, Louis Braille, Jean Jaurès, Marie and Pierre Curie, Gambetta and Andre Malraux. It was also from its dome that in 1851, Léon Foucault suspended a 67 meter pendulum to demonstrate the rotation of the earth. A replica of the Foucault’s pendulum can still be seen today hanging from the very dome.
Then we walked straight on to Rue Descartes. There's an array of pubs and bars on both sides of the street. These bars are usually frequented by the students of Latin Quarter and other universities of Paris. As we were pressed for time we were not able to go to any of these bars for a drink that day.
|A display featuring Tintin at one of the comic book stores on Rue Dante|
|A bar at the crossing or Rue Descartes and Rue de la Montagne Sainte Geneviève|
|The plaque at the apartment where Hemingway lived|
We raised a toast to Paris and took the first sip. For desserts we ordered crepes. Sreyash and I were quite full so we preferred to share a crepe while Mitra opted for a whole one. Must say Mitra has got a big appetite. With it the evening came to an end, it was an evening well spent in the company of like-minded people and I am waiting for more such evenings to come.