The Pantheon, Village Voice Bookstore, and Musée d’Orsay

Today began with a final meeting with my Trafalgar tour director, Mariannne. I had only met her briefly once before. Today I noticed that she had a German accent. She gave me my airport transportation transfer. The supplier is Paris Airport Services. I leave at 7:00 AM on Sunday morning.

I walked to the Latin Quarter to visit the Pantheon. The Pantheon is located close to the Sorbonne. I saw some occult bookstores in that area. The Pantheon is a majestic Christian basilica which has been converted for secular state use. It is primarily used as the final resting place for the heros of France in its crypt. I saw Foucault’s pendulum. I especially liked the paintings of Joan of Arc. It was in four huge panels or scenes. The first scene showed an angel giving the peasant girl Joan a sword. The second scene was of Joan in her armor leading the French forces against England. The third scene featured the King of France being crowned as Joan of Arc looks on. The final scene was of Joan of Arc being burnt at the stake. I went down into the crypt and saw the tombs of various great men and women. I saw Victor Hugo’s tomb. The crypt was a bit chilly and one of the guards had a space heater to keep himself warm. I saw a lot of fancy, ancient funeral weaths in one tomb but otherwise there wasn’t much to see. There were two TV sets playing a documentary in a dark chamber of the crypt. I thought that was slightly eerie and strangely symbolic.

After I left the Pantheon, I found my way to the Village Voice Bookstore. This was one of the first bookstores I came across in my research. It is a very professional bookstore where many visiting English speaking authors and literary figures give readings. I bought the book “Sylvia Beach And The Lost Generation: A History Of Literary Paris In The Twenties & Thirties”. The salesman recommended that I buy “Americans In Paris” as well if I wanted to know more about Sylvia Beach so I bought that too. Paris is a great city for a book lover. They have bookstores all over the place so you are always tempted to buy some books. Now, in Philadelphia, you can’t find bookstores anywhere because the only ones left are chain stores in the shopping malls. The salesman was British and he asked me if I was French or American. That amused me because I was only using English and he should have been able to tell.

I walked all the way to my hotel just to drop off my books and to freshen up. Then I walked to the Museum d’Orsay. I could have gone straight to the Museum d’Orsay if not for the books. I also wanted to get rid of my jacket which I wore because it was chilly this morning. But it got hot later on, as I was doing a lot of walking. I saw some of those curious kiosks they have in France to advertise movies. They are advertising the Coco Chanel film starring Audrey Tautou of Amelie and The Da Vinci Code fame. I’ve seen the trailer for the Coco Chanel film on the Paris DVD I bought. I haven’t seen The Da Vinci Code movie so I’ll have to do that when I get home.

I went back to the Museum d’Orsay because I did not think I saw everything on my first visit. There were many rooms and artwork that I didn’t see on that initial visit. For example, I missed the ballroom and the exhibit “The Italy of the Architects, from layout to invention”. Another exhibit was “Italian Models”, an exhibition of Hébert’s paintings of Italian peasants. This probably explains why there were many Italians in the line to get in. One of the more interesting paintings I saw was Francois-Louis’s “Orphée”. I also liked “La jeune fille et la Mort” by Marianne Stokes.

After I was sure I’d seen everything at the Museum d’Orsay I walked back to the area around the Eiffel Tower and had diner at Le Dome. The waiter remembered what I liked so I had the same meal as yesterday. I watched the French traffic police give tickets to a bicyclist riding down the middle of the road. They also pulled over a few cars by standing in front of them and blowing a whistle. The cops would not be able to stop cars on foot like that in America.

That evening I rode to the top of the Eiffel Tower again to take some photos of Paris all lit up at night. Unfortunately most of my photos did not turn out well but I got a few good shots. I don’t know when I’ll ever return to Paris so I figured it was a good idea to do the Eiffel Tower twice on this visit.

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