When I studied abroad in Paris, I lived in the 5th arrondissement, also known as the Latin or Student quarter. The area was perfect for me – lively, filled with students from nearby ENS and la Sorbonne, and full of bistros, cafes and shops on this one particularly long street behind my apartment. I remember getting pasta frequently at this one restaurant, so often that the server memorized my order of pasta a la vodka in his thick Parisian accent (“le vod-ka”) and gelato from the numerous ice cream stalls where each scoop was only a euro (mhmm stracciatella). Also nearby was the Pantheon, a large neoclassical building that I passed on my way to school twice a day but never really knew what it was or thought to venture inside.
I finally went in on nearly the last possible day of my stay in Paris, after a group of girls in my study abroad program had visited and recommended it. Originally designed as a church for St. Genevieve, the interior of the Pantheon is massive, with large marble columns, vaulted domes and colorful frescos on the walls. Today, the Pantheon functions as a mausoleum for some of France’s most distinguished citizens. If you find your way to the crypt below, you can look for the cells of Alexander Dumas, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the comte de Mirabeau, Voltaire, Jean-Paul Marat, Victor Hugo, Emile Zola, Pierre and Marie Curie and many more.
There’s also the opportunity to walk to the top for a view out on Paris. Unfortunately, when I was a student I went too close to closing time and missed the chance (they close the rooftop early). On this trip to Paris, the Pantheon rooftop was closed for renovations and I missed it again! Someday hopefully I’ll make it to the top. In the meantime, I took a couple iphone snaps of the interior. For some reason I must have been tired from the trek and have virtually no photos from my digital SLR… oh well!
For more of my tips and tricks to the City of Love, check out my Paris Mini Guide. Everything can be seen / done / eaten in a weekend :)
Pst – did you know you can get into the Pantheon for free with the Paris Pass? It includes 60+ museums/attractions as well as unlimited metro, bus and tram rides. Well worth it!