Given the charming weather last weekend, I decided to do some walking downtown. My walk commenced at the Luxembourg Garden, located in the 6th arrondissement. It's arguably one of my favorite spots here with its wonderful tree-lined lanes, flowerbeds and picturesque fountains.
The gardens were created in the 17th century by Marie de' Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France. They were to become the venue for a new residence she constructed - the Luxembourg Palace, where the French Senate is now being housed. Make sure to walk along Rue Vaugirard - you're going to discover something hidden right across from the Senate...
A shelf of marble representing the last original standard meter which hasn't budged an inch since 1976. In 1791, the Académie des Sciences defined the meter for the first time. The only other to survive is situated at Place Vendôme, although, unlike the Vaugirard meter, it’s been moved from its original location. To define the meter, French astronomers measured 10 millionths of the distance from the North Pole to the Equator through a Paris meridian, which you can still find at the center of the Paris Observatory.
My promenade further weaved through the narrow cobbled streets of le Quartier Latin, passing by the infamous 13th-century La Sorbonne, to reach Paris's Panthéon - an astonishing edifice, an early example of neo-classicism, with a façade alluding to the Pantheon in Rome, surmounted by a dome whose characters bear their origin from Bramante's Tempietto. In fact, it stands right across from La Sorbonne's Law faculty. The overall design was that of a Greek cross with a massive portico of Corinthian columns. At the beginning of the XXth century, it was here that you'd find Auguste Rodin's famous sculpture The Thinker.
Le Panthéon was built in the 18th century and its initial purpose was to serve as a church. It was eventually turned into a mausoleum which now contains the remains of distinguished French citizens such as Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Alexandre Dumas, Pierre and Marie Curie, Jean Moulin, Louis Braille, Jean Jaurès and Soufflot, its architect. The necropolis has some spooky feeling about it!