On Monday, we woke up before the sun to head to the airport for our flight to Paris. It was about 1:30 by the time we checked into our rooms at the hotel. We grabbed a yummy lunch before starting our afternoon class. I had a savory crepe with marshmallow hot chocolate. Our afternoon class began at the Pantheon, which was originally the church of Sainte Genevieve. The building lost its religious function as a result of the revolution and is now a monument to France’s heroes. Next to the Pantheon is Saint-Étienne-du-Mont. St Genevieve and St Etienne are Paris’ two patron saints. Another important building in the immediate vicinity is the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève a fantastic public library. Built in the late 1800s, it marks a shift in building technology: It was one of the first buildings to use iron typical of mill-type construction in a public building. I’ve been looking forward to seeing this library since I first learned about it! We then headed toward the Seine River, stopping at a few churches along the way and ultimately ending at Notre Dame Cathedral! We explored the inside for a while and then sketched outside until it rained, and then snowed, on us. We then went to Place Dauphine and saw the Pont Neuf. Class ended there, and we went headed back to the hotel before grabbing dinner and calling it a night.
I won’t lie; Tuesday was a battle. It was so cold. During the morning, we walked all over seeing the Ile Saint-Louis, a few churches, and some French hotels, but not hotels in the modern sense. French hotels are a type of aristocratic homes that have specific features like an entry court and garden. We had a coffee break, or hot chocolate if you’re like me and don’t like coffee, then sketched in Place des Vosges. We continued to the circular space of Place des Victoires and then broke for lunch. During our break, we ran and saw the Pompidou Center. We met for our afternoon session in Paroisse Saint-Eustache, a beautiful gothic church! From there we headed to the Louvre where we mainly focused on the Cour Carrée and the East Facade. By then we were frozen and needed another coffee break, after which we visited the Place Vendome. Then a small group of us walked to Champs-Élysées and saw the Arc de Triomphe. We found an authentic Parisian bistro for a delicious dinner that night.
Wednesday was another early morning as we had to catch our train to Château de Fontainebleau, a French castle adapted to a hunting lodge, similar to Versailles. There we spent the morning seeing some incredible rooms and a small portion of its vast grounds. We grabbed a quick lunch before catching the train back to Paris. That afternoon we went inside the Pantheon, visited the Odéon Theatre, and strolled through the gardens the Palais du Luxembourg. Then I headed to Notre Dame where I attended Ash Wednesday Mass. Afterward, we grabbed dinner and had a nice relaxing night.
We started Thursday morning at Institut de France, across the river from the Louvre, and proceeded to the Ecole des Beaux Arts. From there we saw the Fountain of the Four Seasons and then stopped for a coffee break. Then we went to Church of Saint-Sulpice and broke for lunch. After lunch we saw a few more hotels, including Hotel Amelot de Gournay, which is currently the Paraguayan Embassy. Officials there graciously let us in to see the unusual oval court. We then went to Les Invalides, a military hospital. The complex has a chapel with an extravagant dome. Napoleon’s massive tomb is located inside the church. From there we walked to the military school where we ended class. Most of us went on to climb the Eiffel Tower! We had a casual but delicious French dinner and finished the night by packing.
I started my last day in Paris at Sainte Chapelle, a gothic chapel in the Palais de Justice known for its extraordinary stained glass windows! I was blown away by the space and wish I could have spent all day in there! When I was finally able to tear myself away, we went to Musee D’Orsay and saw some incredible artwork! After stopping for lunch, we popped inside the Ecole des Beaux Arts, to see a special exhibit, and the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève. By then it was time to head to the airport for my weekend adventure in Munich with my roommate from school!