Day 2 (September 5, 2007)   Notre Dame and Louvre


  A very ambitious plan for this day when including the visit to Museum of Louvre at afternoon, after lunching on Latin Quarter. The itinerary, from South to North, would be done by walking joining the three main spots for today: Pantheon, Notre Dame and Louvre. On our way we will be able of visiting some other interesting places as Luxembourg gardens, Sorbonne, Le Sainte Chapelle or Museum d’Orsay. This day we will have the help of Paris Museum card.

Paris map

   The spots marked at map for visits on this day are:

0- Hotel Eiffel Cambronne
5- Luxembourg Gardens
6- Pantheon
7- Notre Dame
8- Sainte Chapelle
9- Museum d'Orsay
10- Louvre


   We don't like to wake up early so, on despite of our tight agenda for today, we go out from hotel, gotten breakfast, around 11h. This has been the first and last time we're going to breakfast at hotel as, although bars are expensive, 13€ per person at hotel is even more.

   We purchase two Mobilis card again and 5 stops of metro, a line change on Denfert Rochereau, and two more train station later we're on Luxembourg station, ready for going out to the street, just along one of the entrance to Luxembourg gardens, which we use.

   The park is big and is full of well conserved gardens, clean and nice, as everything we could see in this city. There is a palace with the name of "Le Senat" here too, but I would be surprised if the senate was actually there. You can see all these places with the unavoidable presence of Montparnasse tower at the bottom and the people coming to here, who get this place full of life.

Le Senat, in Luxembourg GardensLuxembourg gardens with Montparnasse Tower

   We go out from the gardens with the same feeling we've got yesterday about all these "minor" visits as we are loving them. We're sure, then, there are a lot of places in Paris we're not going to visit but we would enjoy that well too.

Pantheon   Just around 100 metres from here we can see the impressive Pantheon, which frontal reminds us the architecture of Les Invalides. It's here where we get the Museum Pass Card for two days by 30€ each.

   In a closer look, this building is even more fantastic as the size of the elements, far from being for humans, can amaze you: Big and tall columns and doors through which could enter five persons at a time, in vertical, one over each other!

   The first we can see once inside is the great hall over the dome, which center is occupied by the Foucault pendulum, which I already knew, but the walls around are full of works of art, like paintings and statues or sculpture representations, most of them about the French Revolution. Then, we go downstairs to the crypt as here are the tombs with the remains of the considered great men in the history of France. So, after a hall with some sarcophagus with statues of important figures as Voltaire, we can walk along a corridor with opened small chambers with three or four tombs on each one. We're talking about people like Rousseau, Pier and Marie Curie or Jean Mannet. On the picture below you can see the tombs of - from left to right - Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas and Emile Zola.

Victor Hugo, Alejandro Dumas and Zola tombsFoucault pendulum in Pantheon

Pantheon's ceiling
   We like it that much as per spending the time in there without any worries. When we get the street again I check the time... 13:20h! We’re in troubles with all spots we must visit before lunching, as the afternoon should be entirely for Louvre!. But we cannot regret as the time has been well spent in here. For me, Pantheon should be on the same Paris visitor’s list as Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, to which we must go now, by the way.

   This city is so amazing that even the small church in the picture, sited just besides Pantheon, is magnificent, but don't manage to get its name until returning home: Le Paroisse Saint Etienne du Mont.

Paroisse Saint Etienne du MontSorbonne

   We take Rue Sant Jacques to North surrounded by a college environment. The buildings on nearby looks classic and are labelled as different faculties. We pass then, in front of the one in the picture, which is the famous Sorbonne, the oldest university in the world.

   As we follow our way quite directly, with no distractions, in 15 minutes we're in front of Notre Dame Cathedral side, known by its gargoyles and hunchback, but I cannot see any of both. We take the short bridge saving the narrow part of Senna river separating the City Island (Ile de la Cité) from the South riverside, where we're coming from. The facade is wonderful, it is full of elaborated decorations and statues of stone.

Notre Dame Cathedral's sideNotre Dame's facade

   It is magnificent from inside too, with big and colourful windows and statues of people related with religion as Joan of Arc. We look for the stairs to reach the top of one of the towers but we cannot find them there in. It is because they're outside, on its right side, and you can detect them because of the long row of people waiting for "enjoying" them, which makes us desist from it. As we're late in our agenda, we cannot wait that long for going the way up of the 387 steps. At least I've found the gargoyles: they're very high and smaller than I thought. Actually, they're ending the water spouts which drain the rain from the roof and they're not "realistic" statues, but something more functional.

Interior of Notre DameIle de la Cité, over river Seine

   In the small park in front of the Cathedral there is a place where you can do the perfect picture and, therefore, everybody is doing it. It is exactly in front of the building and far enough of it as per taking the whole Notre Dame in your photo.

   We go further inside the island from there and, at the moment the view of the river is lost, it looks as if we were ion the middle of the city again. We walk some streets twice for finding the Sainte Chapelle as, shockingly, it is inside of the old Royal Palace complex, which now are located the Paris Courts. So we find two rows of people on one side of it: one for the citizens needing something from courts and another one for the ones wanting to visit the chapel. Both of them must pass through the security control.

   We follow the signs until reaching a hall, after going up by two stairs, looking as the interior of a tiny cathedral somewhere. Actually, what worth the visit to here are just the colourful windows, made of the typical multicolour mosaic of stained glass, but unusually tall and narrow. They're really beautiful, but only them, as the rest seems to be on improvements.

windows in Sainte ChapelleSainte Chapelle

   This visit has been quick, just 15 minutes. That helps! as it is 15h now and we have to lunch. We walk inside courts area until leaving it through its big railing door and we go back to the South riverside to look for a restaurant on Latin Quarter.  
Metro's entrance
   We can see a peculiar metro entrance, it belongs to Saint-Michel station but we go on our way in the quarter. At the moment we go off the big Boulevard Sain Michel what we find are narrow streets full of restaurant, one besides each other. We discard some Asiatic and one Spanish one as we want to go for local food, now we're going to be here just for two days. And due to this we choose "Le Pré Grill", where we can seat inside, refusing the outdoor tables, and lunch by less than 20€.

   It's going to be 16:30 when we're back to our tasks. When we're reaching the river one more time, we can see, on our riverside, the Museum d'Orsay and, on the opposite side, the Museum of Louvre. I expected to be here earlier but, even with that, we decide to take advantage of Museum Pass card to take an outlook to the first one and spend the rest of the afternoon on Louvre.

   The building allocating Museum d'Orsay is beautiful by itself and peculiar, with these big clocks on its facade. This is because it was used an old train station improved for locating this art collection.

Museum d'OrsayMuseum d'Orsay's clock from inside

   This museum is made by big, opened and clean areas. We're looking for the impressionists, which is what we want to see, but, as use to happen, there are a lot more of works of art attracting our attention. Van Gogh's Portrait of Dr. Gachet is here (one of them, a least), but I spend the time watching more freaky things as a big model of part of Paris or Whistler's mother, the painting which get quite destroyed on Mr. Bean's movie.

Inside Museum d'OrasyWhistler's mother

   Time runs fast and we’re getting out of it, so it’s time to go to Museum of Louvre. Is it possible I’ve organize all this travel just for seeing Victory of Samothrace? It could be. Actually, it was decided once returned from Greece on July, where I saw several replicas of that statue. I’m in love of her and we’re finally going to meet.

   We take the bridge to get the other side of the river and walk along a part of Tuileries garden, which is the park in front of the Louvre. Now we just have to pass through a beautiful arch of pink stone and enter into the glass pyramid.

Entrance to LouvreLouvre Museum

   Museum pass card gives us access to the museum a few minutes before 18h. As Wednesday it closes at 21:30h we must organize our visit and planning the best way of visiting all three wings appearing at the map I’ve just got. The three accesses to them are on this great hall: Richelieu (North), Denon (South) and Sully (East).

   We start by Richelieu wing where I want to see Code of Hammurabi overall. The first we find is two great halls with natural light and equestrian sculptures. The picture above at right is taken from here. When going upstairs we find out all Mesopotamian part of the Museum is closed because of improvements, so I won’t see the Code of Hammurabi today. The good side of this is we’re going to have more time for the rest of the museum. We return to the main hall after completing Richelieu wing in a half of an hour.

   We spend the rest of the time on the other two wings. It’s in Denon where we find famous Venus de Milo, which beauty I cannot see compared with other statues here, as the one dominating the staircase to upper levels of this wing: my loved Winged Victory of Samothrace. It was the prow of a boat representation and the detail on the pleats on cloth is unbelievable to me. It makes the sensation she is really feeling wind on face permanently. It is quite bigger than I expected.

   We watch the famous Gioconda, a small portrait with an additional security system, but I prefer Delacroix’s Barque of Dante, which I find here too. The halls about ancient Rome and Egypt are amazing too. There are a lot of real treasures here. We spend some minutes more than three hours in there.

Italian paintings hall in LouvreKiss of Cupid and Psyche

Samothrace VictoryRoyal treasures hall in Louvre

Delacroix's Barque of DanteEgyptian sphynx in Louvre

   It’s dark when we’re leaving the complex by Rue de Rivoli gate to get Palais-Royal_Musée du Louvre metro station. We buy some fruit one more time and get into our room exhausted. I can read clearly the tiredness of this day on Eva’s face. It’s the price for seeing that amount of wonderful things on a single journey.