Good news and bad news - Pantheon offers the best views of Paris

Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides with the gold dome and Saint-Sulpice. La Defense is in the background. 
The good news:

Over the years, I've had the pleasure of admiring Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower, a hot air balloon, the terraces of Galeries Lafayette and the Arab World Institute, the Montparnasse Tower, the panoramic bar at Hotel Concorde La Fayette, and the Panthéon. Without a doubt, I have to admit that Jean-Arthur Olive was right that the best view of Paris is from the dome of the Panthéon. After climbing 206 steps, the sweeping 360 degree panoramic views of the city are awe-inspiring. Seeing the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame from this height made me realize the scope of their size. And to think that the cornerstone of Notre Dame was laid in 1163. Simply amazing!

The bad news:

Stop reading, drop everything and make haste to the Pantheon because if you get there after October 31, 2011 you'll have to wait two to three years for another opportunity to see the spectacular views from the external colonnade at the base of the dome. I'm not sure if the tours are offered at the same time every day, but yesterday the times were 11:00, 12:00, 1:30, 2:30, 3:30 and 4:30. The free tours are limited to 50 people. The last tour is very much in demand.

After getting distracted by some ice cream and hot chocolate on the rue Mouffetard on Saturday, Stephane and I arrived at the Pantheon only to learn that we had missed the last guided tour to the dome for the day. When they told us that it would be closed for the foreseeable future, I went back yesterday to take some pictures. It was well worth the trip and the 8 Euros admission fee. Tomorrow's post will be about the inside of the Pantheon, but first I'm going to take you on a photo tour of the dome.

Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Arial view of Foucault's pendulum from the inside of the dome. Those little specks are people.
Painting on the interior of the dome. It's not really noticeable from the ground but looks beautiful up-close.
External colonnade at the base of the dome.
Notre Dame Cathedral
Not a great photo showing Sacre Coeur in the distance. I'm including it because when I told Stephane that the crane in the foreground prevented me from getting any good shots of Sacre Coeur, he commented that there aren't many construction cranes in Paris. That's true. But where would you put another building?
Ahh, the rooftops of Paris! What is it about this hodge-podge collection of buildings that makes them so romantic? I couldn't help but think about all of the individual stories that are currently unfolding under these roofs and have been for centuries.
Going up 206 stairs was the easy part.
Going down was the hard part, especially since it will be 2-3 years until I can enjoy the views from the dome again!


  1. I've never been to the top. If I'm there with my niece in five years, it should all be reopened again.

    And leave it to an engineer to point out the absence of construction cranes.

    And the rooftops--indeed romantic. Old European cities, or those cities with old centers like Paris and Florence for example, about them I've always wondered why they're so beautiful because generally I prefer more trees than you see in these cities. In the States, the cities are filled with trees which add a nice natural element, but in old European cities you can go block and blocks and blocks and no trees. Maybe it's the walls and roofs talking to us instead.

  2. Joseph, You have a poetic soul! There is something about these ancient cityscapes that isn't matched by newer ones. When we were first married, Stephane and I had the good fortune to live in an old apartment that overlooked the rooftops of Zurich. One of my favorite memories is of sitting on the window seat and watching the snow drift down on the buildings below while listening to the church bells ring. And I won't even get started on Florence - suffice it to say that I nearly drove Stephane crazy looking for the perfect hotel with a view when we went there shortly after the movie, "A Room with a VIew" came out.

    The absence (or presence) of construction cranes is what Stephane always notices. Whenever he travels to China, he gives me updates on the number of cranes dotting the skylines of Shanghai and Beijing. Cranes=construction=growing economy.

    Since this is already so long, I'm going to comment on your blog about your visit to Paris with your niece.

  3. Beautiful photos! The view from the dome does indeed look interesting, because you're close enough to see details you couldn't from the top of the ET. And of course, you get to have the ET in the shot. I hope to make it to the Pantheon one of these days.

    Love your photo of the rooftops. And your ruminations remind me of that scene in Amelie, when Amelie was speculating about the activities going on under the rooftops. Her mind was a little more in the gutter, though. ;)


  4. Nycgirl, I was thinking about you today! When I walked past McDonald's I dragged Stephane inside to get some of their macarons because I suddenly remembered seeing them in your pictures of Paris on Any Port. It's the first time that I've tried them. They're really tasty. I just finished having two with some hot chocolate. The urge to eat another one is almost unbearable...

    I had forgotten about that scene in Amelie. Thanks for reminding me. You'll have to let me know what you end up thinking about when you gaze out at the view of Paris from the Pantheon! I hope that it won't be too long until you're able to see it.

  5. McDonald's is selling macarons? Isn't that heresy?

  6. Yes, they are -- and after eating a chocolate, vanilla and caramel one, I can confirm that they're very good and quite a bit less expensive than the ones at Laduree. I took some photos and will do a post on them in the near future.

  7. They're good, aren't they?! I'm no connoisseur, but I was very satisfied. And 90 centimes each is a steal! I never buy baked goods at Starbucks, they're always been dry and mediocre. But I've got no problem with McD's macarons.


  8. They're delicious! I'm already thinking about my next trip to McDonalds- and I promise that's not something that I would normally say.

    I have a weakness for the lemon cake at Starbuck's but rarely go there unless I need wifi access away from home in Paris.

  9. You can observe here the remains of the spectacular Roman society and understand record in a new light. Study on to find out a bit more about this amazing area to help you in your France schedule. Pantheon member


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