Paris, France – The Latin Quarter

On a crisp February morning in 2011 my Parisian friend and I bundled our necks in cashmere, condemned our frozen heads to hats and took ourselves on a walk from Chatelet in the 1st arrondissement across the Seine to the Left Bank and into the cobbled alleyways of The Latin Quarter.

Left Bank, Cross-Roads, Seine: f/5; 1/800sec; ISO-100

Left Bank, Cross-Roads, Seine: f/5; 1/800sec; ISO-100

The heart of Parisian history is beneath our feet: Roman ruins stand to attention before us, and the great intellectuals of France have made this their home for generations. Two of the world’s most famous cathedrals, one of the world’s most famous universities and Paris’ beautiful parks and gardens line the Seine. This is where Paris began many centuries ago…

Parisian Cross Roads NIKON D3000 f/5; Exposure 1/320sec; ISO-100

Parisian Cross Roads NIKON D3000 f/5; Exposure 1/320sec; ISO-100

This is the precinct of the Université de Paris’ Sorbonne, where students meet and linger over café crème and croissants. François Rabelais, the French Renaissance writer, doctor, monk and Greek scholar (1494-1553) named it the Quartier Latin after the students and the professors who spoke Latin in the classroom and on the streets.

Bird Soars Across the Notre Dame: f/5; Exposure 1/400sec; ISO-100

Bird Soars Across the Notre Dame: f/5; Exposure 1/400sec; ISO-100

Ah, Notre Dame: the most famous Roman Catholic Marian cathedral in the world is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Venerating the Blessed Vurgin Mary, Notre Dame occupies the eastern half of the Île de la Cité in the 4th arrodissement. Construction began in 1163 during the reign on King Louis VII. It is said that deep within its cathedral is housed instruments of the Passion: the crown of thorns, a fragment of the True Cross and one of the Holy Nails.

As I contemplate these relics my foot steps on a small octagonal brass plate located directly in front of the cathedral. Letting me in on the not-so-secret, my knowledgeable friend tells me that we are arrived at Pointe Zero, the point where from which all distances in France are measured.

Theatre de la Renaissance-Relief: f/5.3; Exposure 1/25sec; ISO-100

Theatre de la Renaissance-Relief: f/5.3; Exposure 1/25sec; ISO-100

Dominating the heart of the Latin Quarter is the Fontaine St. Michel in which archangel St. Michel slays two dragons. The square is a popular spot at night for street musicians and socializing students: we have arrived at Place St. Michel…

Fontaine St. Michel f/5; Exposure1/200sec; ISO-100

Fontaine St. Michel f/5; Exposure1/200sec; ISO-100

This baroque fountain has been the site of numerous protests and social uprisings. One of the main events of French resistance to the occupying Nazis took place in the square. The  riots of 1968 here led workers to rally, announcing mass strikes, eventually leading to the fall of De Gaulle’s government.

Archangel Michel Slaying the Beast: f/5; Exposure 1/200sec; ISO-100

Archangel Michel Slaying the Beast: f/5; Exposure 1/200sec; ISO-100

Talk of uprisings, cathedrals, intellectuals and slayings make for a hunger, and with evening falling so does a chill in the air. It is time for le dîner. Well priced eats in the Latin Quarter are easily found. These winding streets are home to hundreds of bistrots et restaurants one of which serves those necessary dishes one must experience when one is in Paris: garlicky, buttery and infused with wine moules et escargot…

2 Responses to Paris, France – The Latin Quarter

  1. Kym says:

    was a lovely day Alice, Wish yuou would come back, and I can take you down another of my favourite streets, Rue Mouffetard 🙂
    Bisous!

  2. Hey, thanks for sharing I always look forward to reading your posts one of the few blogs I still follow home decorated

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