Pantheon, by mistake

Pantheon, by mistake

[July 2023] The purpose of this trip to France was to meet friends and watch a ballet at the Opera House, so we had no plans for sightseeing Paris at all.

The next day, we had almost the whole day free, so we decided to head to the Pantheon, taking my friend’s comment that there was a huge tomb of Napoleon there.

the steam fountain in Place de la Bastille in Paris, France
interesting fountain in Place de la Bastille

The palace in Fontainebleau where we were until the day before was related to Napoleon, and we had never been inside the Pantheon.

The weather was nice so we headed there on foot.

We passed the Place de la Bastille, which had interesting fountains spewing out steam, and headed out to the Seine River.

We saw some deck chairs along the river, so we approached there thinking it was the beach people were talking about, but all we saw was a row of deck chairs.

At this time, just after 10am, there was a breeze and it was especially comfortable in the shade.

inside of the Pantheon in Paris, France
inside is splendid, too

Finally, we arrived at the Pantheon.

It has a dignified style.

We paid €15 per person to enter.

According to the pamphlet I received, this place has a long history and is said to have its origins in a chapel built in 507 AD by King Clovis, who converted to Christianity, so it was originally a church.

In the mid-18th century, Louis XV believed that his recovery from a serious illness was due to St. Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris, and he rebuilt the chapel where the saint was buried, resulting in its current appearance.

It is said that it was completed in 1790.

a replica of Foucault's pendulum in Pantheon in Paris, France
Foucault’s pendulum showing the rotation of the earth

However, the end of the 18th century was a turbulent time for France, and after the Great Revolution, citizens became increasingly dissatisfied with the church’s status as the resting place of the royal family, and in 1791, the year after its completion, it became a national shrine as a mausoleum of great people.

After that, it returned to the church twice, but it was established as the Pantheon in 1885, the pamphlet says.

Well, when we went inside, we couldn’t find anything that looked like Napoleon’s tomb.

Feeling confused, I looked through the pamphlets, but it was not here.

I was pretty disappointed, but I pulled myself together and started the tour.

The first thing that caught my eye was a replica of Foucault’s pendulum located in the middle of the huge space.

tomb of Jean-Jacques Rousseau on the underground of the Pantheon in Paris, France
many tombs of famous French people including Jean-Jacques Rousseau

This is the pendulum that proved the rotation of the Earth, which was apparently tested publicly here.

By chance, we happened to be there at noon.

It was a nice-looking device, but please don’t ask me about its mechanics, as I was one of the worst at physics in my class.

When we went down to the basement, it was like a maze.

There were graves of famous French people, such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Victor Hugo.

To maintain the solemnity of the space, a woman was seated in the corner, her job being to say “shhh” to the chatting tourists.

Then we went up to the dome.

the view from the dome of the Pantheon in Paris, France
lovely view of Paris seen from the Pantheon

I think we were given a designated time to climb when we entered.

The curve of the staircase, which has 204 steps written on it, is a nice touch.

From the top, you can get a bird’s-eye view of the typical Paris landscape, including Montmartre and the Eiffel Tower.

It was sunny so the view was very good.

It wasn’t that crowded and it felt nice being there.

Oh, by the way, I later learned that Napoleon’s tomb is in Invalides.