The Pendulum At The Pantheon

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THE PANTHEON IS A RATHER INTERESTING PLACE TO GO ON A FRIDAY AFTERNOON

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Refreshed with wine and inspired by all we had seen, we decided to take in one last attraction before a dinner reservation in the surrounding area.  We were going to the Pantheon.

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THE PANTHEON WAS ORIGINALLY BUILT AS A CHURCH DEDICATED TO ST. GENEVIEVE

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Pantheon is a Latin word that means temple to the Gods. The front of the Pantheon in Paris is based on the Pantheon in Rome, but it is no longer a temple.  It was at one time a church dedicated to St. Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions.   Some of her relics are still on display but now  the building serves as a mausoleum and final resting place for many distinguished French artists, inventors and scientists.  The Pantheon was on our Museum Pass and we were in the area, so thought it was worth checking out.

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THE DOME ON THE PANTHEON RISES 83 METRES ABOVE THE FLOOR

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THIS STATUE HONOURS THE CONVENTION NATIONALE, A SINGLE CHAMBER GOVERNING BODY THAT REIGNED IN FRANCE FROM 1792-1795 DURING THE REVOLUTIONARY YEARS

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This is a big airy space with huge Gothic columns and large statues, but we had come for two particular reasons.  The first was to see the Foucault pendulum.

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THE BRASS BALL HANGING FROM THE WIRE BESIDE THE NUMBER 15 HELPED PROVE THAT THE EARTH  ROTATES ON ITS AXIS

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The French physicist Leon Foucault knew that the Earth rotated on its axis, but he wanted to create a device that could prove it in a way that was easy to see.  He came up with a simple idea.  In 1851, he suspended a 28 kg lead ball coated with brass and suspended it from a pivot from the dome of the Pantheon with a 67 metre long wire.   The ball swings back and forth continuously, and during each hour, its path changes by 11 degrees.  Because the line attached to the top of the dome is in a pivot … it doesn’t move, but the measuring devices attached to the ground below  DO move as the earth rotates.   The original pendulum was eventually transferred to the Musee Des Arts et Metiers, but in 2010, the cable snapped. damaging the ball (and putting a healthy dent in the marble floor below it).  An exact recreation was returned to the Pantheon and was swinging continuously between 1995 and 2014.  It was removed for almost two years during renovations but is now back in its rightful place.

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BENEATH THE MAIN FLOOR IS THE MAUSOLEUM

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After looking around the main floor, we descended to the mausoleum which is the final resting place (to name a few)  of Marie Curie (who invented the X-ray), Louise Braille (whose tomb has braille writing at the entrance), famous philosopher and writer Voltaire and someone whose writing had drawn us to Notre Dame … Victor Hugo.

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THESE SIMPLE MARKERS SHOW THE RESTING PLACES OF MANY GREAT FRENCH CITIZENS.  THIS NICHE WAS DEVOTED TO LITERARY ARTISTS

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THE REMAINS ARE BENEATH THE STONE SLABS IN EACH NICHE

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PEOPLE STILL LEAVE TRIBUTES AT SOME OF THE TOMBS

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We were particularly moved by the cards that were left at Marie Curie’s tomb.

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MARIE CURIE WAS AN INSPIRATION TO MEN AND A TRAIL BLAZER FOR WOMEN SCIENTISTS

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We spent close to 45 minutes exploring the various alleys of the mausoleum, and then decided it was time to get out onto the streets and enjoy the beautiful  Latin Quarter.

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COLOURFUL TABLES BRIGHTEN A GREY DAY OUTSIDE ZIG ZAG CAFE

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THE STREETS ARE NARROW AND FILLED WITH CHARM

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We wandered randomly, choosing to bypass our dinner reservation and instead, our feet took us to the Luxembourg Gardens.

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INSIDE THE GARDENS THERE ARE LOVELY PONDS AND FOUNTAINS.  THIS IS THE MEDICI FOUNTAIN BUILT IN 1630

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THE PETIT LUXEMBOURG PALACE IS AT ONE END OF THE PARK AND HOUSES THE FRENCH SENATE OF THE FIFTH REPUBLIC

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PALM TREES, PONDS AND STATUES MAKE THE PARK A PLEASANT PLACE TO STROLL

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We were tired and didn’t really feel like a big meal so we stopped by an outdoor cafe and ordered a large mug of Parisian hot chocolate.  This rich concoction is made of milk, melted bittersweet chocolate and brown sugar … topped with whipped cream.  It was a lovely way to relax before heading back towards our hotel.

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Our dinner plans had changed since we had gotten to the restaurant we had reserved too early, and we wanted to take a nap before heading out the door.  We rested up and then decided to act on the recommendation of a friend.  We went to an astounding Moroccan restaurant with 7 tables called Le Petit Bleu.  The food was outstanding and the price was reasonable.  Oh, and yes, the wine was very good as well.

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FRESHLY MADE MOROCCAN FOOD AT LE PETIT BLEU

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We had probably been overly ambitious in our plans for the day, but we had seen so many inspiring things.  Tomorrow we would sleep in a little as our first stop of the day was the Musee d’Orsay which did not open until later in the morning.  We enjoyed our evening meal and strolled different side streets of Montmartre as we wended our way home and had a deep sleep.

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Tomorrow … All About Art

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Fenton & White

 

 

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