Drink lots and lots of red...
Drink lots and lots of red wine. And then go on long walks in Montmartre or along the Seine. Walking around the Latin Quarter with Eric (up by the Pantheon) on the cold January nights, and drinking at Finnegan's Wake and other bars in the area.
Paris by car at night
One of the very real highlights of our Paris visit was to be driven back to our hotel through central Paris, late at night, in a friend’s historic Renault 4CV motor car. I’ll admit happily that, as an enthusiast for these vehicles, riding in the car was a special event itself, not least because so many young people identified the car as a French classic and shouted calls of appreciation! But, although most Paris visitors may not have such an exotic vehicle choice available, doing such a drive past the Arc de Triomphe, along the Champs Élysées, through the Place de la Concorde, and past the Louvre and Ile de la Cité is definitely to be recommended – even if it involves a taxi!
I’m sorry about the lack of sharpness in most of these photos, there is just no way of holding a camera steady enough late at night in a moving vehicle. You can tell which were taken while we stopped at traffic lights!
Main photo: Two tourists and the 1957 Renault 4CV
Second photo: Passing the Arc de Triomphe.
Third photo: Down the Champs Élysées
Fourth photo: Past the Louvre
Fifth photo: Alongside the Seine.
On top of the montagne Ste-Geneviève, not far from the Sorbonne University and the Jardin du Luxembourg, the imposing Panthéon looks over the Quartier Latin. As far back as 507, this site was chosen by King Clovis - the first Frankish Merovingian King - for a basilica to serve as a tomb for him and his wife Clothilde. In 512 Sainte-Geneviève, patroness of Paris was buried here.
When King Louis XV suffered from a serious illness in 1744 he vowed to build a church dedicated to Sainte-Geneviève if he would survive. After he recovered, he entrusted the Marquis of Marigny with the task of building the church, which was to replace the 6th century basilica, at the time known as the Abbey Sainte-Geneviève. In 1755, the Marquis commissioned the architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot to design a new, great church.
Construction of the imposing building started in 1757. Mainly due to financial problems, it took 34 years before completion. After Soufflot's death in 1780, his associate Guillaume Rondelet took charge of the project. The building was finished in 1791, in the midst of the French Revolution. That same year, the Constituent Assembly of the Revolution decided by decree to transform the church into a temple to accommodate the remains of the great men of France. The building was adapted by architect Quatremère de Quincy to its new function as a pantheon. In 1806 the building was turned into a church again, but since 1885 the Panthéon serves as a civic building.
The floorplan shows a Greek-cross layout, 110m long and 85m wide. The large dome reaches a height of 83m (279ft). The portico, with large Corinthian columns was modeled after the 2nd century Pantheon in Rome. The dome features three superimposed shells, similar to the St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Iron reinforcements were added to strengthen the structure even more. The large crypt, covering the whole surface of the building accommodates the vaults of great French public figures. Some of the most famous buried here are Victor Hugo, Jean Monnet, Marie and Pierre Curie and Emile Zola.
The Panthéon was also the place where, in 1851, the astronomer Jean Bernard Léon Foucault first held his famous experiment, proving that the world spins around its axis. The Foucault pendulum moved in 1851 to the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers (3e arr). In 1995, it temporarily moved back to the Panthéon due to construction works at the Conservatoire.
From the colonnade around the building's dome, you have an excellent view over Paris. The Panthéon itself is best seen coming from the Jardin du luxembourg through the rue Soufflot.
Walking along Bassin de l'Arsenal, don't be surprised to see a topless woman on the deck of a yacht... having a good time, offering her body to God Sun and to the eyes of passers-by, by the way ;-). She is tanning herself. It is her "bronzette" (tanning) time.
This happened to us (my sis and me) in 1985, we were walking along the Bassin when we saw this already tanned woman, topless and only wearing the below part of her swimwear. Frenchies use to call it "monokini". She was not embarrassed at all, we were amazed. So far, her yacht was the only one I could remember of. I still remember it... lol
More generally speaking, France is a country where nudity is not a big deal. Nudity is in art, in commercials, in ads, in the streets & parks sometimes, in literature, in your favourite woman magazine (could be ELLE, Cosmopolitan, Glamour & even glossy Vogue.... )...
The website whose link you'll find below has samples of "Les Parisiennes" sketches that could appear in French magazines. Some of his illustrations that may be considered NSFW by others are not even to be found in adult section in French bookshops. They are in good bookshops, sold at the cashier desk (Kiraz albums starring "Les Parisiennes" are such best-sellers). Now, who are "Les Parisiennes"? Discover about the sexy, lighthearted, mischievous & clever fashionistas in my 4th tip in this same Local Custom Tips section.
**This bateau does not belong to the bronzette lady, this picture was taken almost 20 years after the encountering with her.**
Up La Fayette: free view of Paris!
Go to the 7th floor of La Fayette department store. You'll have an excellent view of the city and:
IT'S FREE OF CHARGE
I didn't know there was this terrific terrace by the La Fayette and I'm so glad I found it because I didn't have the time to climb the Tour Eiffel or the Tour Montparnasse. Highly recommended!