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July 18th, 2009

The opportunity to see Paris was a real high point of my recent trip to Europe. I have to admit, arriving from small-town California, speaking no French, I felt every bit Mr. Country Mouse. As the midwestern saying goes, it’s hard to keep the boy down on the farm once he’s seen Paree.

Travelogue slideshows get real old real fast, but nevertheless, I’ll indulge in a couple of posts that touch on my Paris visit. On my first day there, I visited the Paris Observatory (more on that later in the week). The next two days were taken up with walking all over the city.

The Panthéon probably left the biggest impression. It was a chilly, rather gloomy day. The soaring interior was a somber chamber of echoes. I’ve always been interested in the events surrounding the French Revolution — the ideal of a Republic seems to find no better expression than in a secular cathedral. Foucault’s pendulum is the centerpiece. Its slow precession silently, subtly underscores the ascendancy of a rational world view. Chills down the spine.

A stone spiral staircase leads down to the crypt.

Where I found the grave of Joseph Louis, comte Lagrange, its stone inscription just visible among the shadows.

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