Monday Postcards: Hidden Paris Monuments

1. Sacré Coeur Basilica sits at the top of Paris’ highest point, Montmartre. From certain vantage points – and on a (rare) clear day in Paris – it looks like it’s just up the street.

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2. The Pantheon sits atop one of Paris’ other high points – the Montagne-Ste-Geneviève. When you’re walking around the fifth arrondissement, it’s hard to find a spot where you can’t see its beautiful dome, now fully renovated and cleaned after several years of work (and scaffolding).

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3. Many people are unfamiliar with this domed building right across from the Louvre: it’s home to the Institut de France, which comprises five académies, the most famous of which is the Académie française. This illustrious institution is comprised of 40 immortels whose job is to establish a complete dictionary of the French language. They’ve been at it since 1635 and show no sign of wrapping up the job any time soon.

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4. Notre Dame’s pretty Gothic towers used to be hidden by a crowd of buildings in front of the famous cathedral. These were demolished in the 19th century during the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X. The government almost did away with the cathedral as well, until my literary hero, Victor Hugo, made Notre Dame the star of his 1831 novel, Notre Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame in English, much to the Anglophone author’s dismay).

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5. This view needs no introduction. I used to live in the seventh arrondissement, and the 324-meter-tall tower, with its revolving light, was always the beacon that guided me home.

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