Wandering in 18th Century Paris

I recently found a collection of self-guided history walks around Paris, and have given myself the goal of completing them all by the time I leave France in August. I have so far only completed the 18th century walk, but I’m planning on getting another one done in a few weeks time.

The walk took my friends and I from the Panthéon to Place de la Concorde, and via several stops in between. It was a really great walk, only three miles long, but still took the best part of a day because I had to stop to take as many photos as I could. It did backfire on me when it came to whittling them down to a reasonable number, and editing them after getting home! I took my Canon 400D and only one lens, but now I know what to expect I can go back kitted-out in the future.

As mentioned, we started at the Panthéon, which I’d never visited before. I was blown away! The interior architecture is incredible and the natural light that pours in just before midday brings out the best in the building.

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The building itself has changed function many times over the years, starting out as a church dedicated to Saint Geneviève, built by Louis XV. It was also once home to a science experiment of all things! It now holds the tombs of figures such as Voltaire and Rousseau and is used for state events. If you’re ever in Paris, I really recommend taking the time to explore this great building.

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Next we walked downhill to the Jardin du Luxembourg. It is one of my favourite places to be on a sunny day. The Palais du Luxembourg which sits in the gardens is now home to the French Sénat; and in front of the Palais is a huge pond/water feature where you can play with hired sailboats.

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The remainder of the walk takes you past a few different monuments and churches, each fascinating in their own right. One that sticks out in my memories in Saint-Sulpice, an 18th century church close to the Jardin du Luxembourg. It is notable for the two towers which differ in size after the pediment topping the shorter tower wasn’t restored following a fire.

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Sitting in the plaza in front of the church on a slow Sunday felt like being on holiday and I wish I could hold on to that feeling forever. Unfortunately, time moves on and so did we…

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On the way to the finish line, we passed the Musée de la Légion d’Honneur, a museum dedicated to the Légion d’Honneur, and its recipients. The medal was the first French military medal open to all men and some women of all professions, ranks, and religions; not just noblemen and Catholics.

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We finished the walk at Place de la Concorde just as the sun was setting on the city, reflecting off the gold topper of the obelisk. My pictures sadly don’t do it justice.

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To find out more about the history walks in Paris, please visit historywalksparis.com

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