France: Steps of Le Panthéon
Life is astounding. It works in many mysterious ways; it can surprise you, it can challenge you, it can beat you down; but above all, it can amaze you. I have had people amaze me, ideas and theories amaze me, and best of all, I have had places amaze me. Finding beauty in the most simple or the most dynamic of things is never something that evades me. I can be awed by a basic garden, booming with color and full of life; at the same time, I can be awed by a complex system like Calculus, full of byzantine equations and definitions.
Nothing is more awe-inspiring, however, than the Eiffel Tower lit up at night on Bastille Day. While everyone raves about how beautiful the Eiffel Tower is in general, the structure’s simplistic design adds to the loveliness. As an aficionada of architecture, seeing the Eiffel Tower in person was enough to make me squirm, but seeing it for the first time twinkling against the pitch-black sky just added to the greatness of the experience. What made this moment even more special was spending it with someone I love, my boyfriend. They say Paris is the city of love, and I was lucky enough to get to spend a week in Paris with the love of my life.
The fact that you can see the Eiffel Tower from just about anywhere in Paris is a no-brainer, but I cannot imagine watching the fireworks and the illuminated Eiffel Tower light up the night sky from anywhere else in the city. My boyfriend and I walked about thirty minutes through construction and traffic and somehow came across Le Panthéon National, a French mausoleum situated in the 5th arrondissement on Montagne Sainte- Geneviève, a hill that positioned Le Panthéon to be in the perfect location that overlooked much of the city and had an astounding view of the Eiffel Tower, provided you were on the front side.
From sitting on the steps of Le Panthéon, we had a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower, not too far in the distance. The location was great because as we waited for the fireworks to begin, we could walk down the main road, Rue Soufflot, leading up to Le Panthéon National. On that road were various antique shops, modern boutiques, cafés and creperies, and libraries; but at the very end of Rue Soufflot was Amorino, a small Italian gelato shop that serves the best gelato on the planet! My boyfriend and I visited some of these shops for a few minutes and then took our time in Amorino, picking out the perfect flavor of ice cream that we would savor as we watched the firework show.
Once we returned to the steps of Le Panthéon, at least a hundred more people had shown up and were sitting on and in front of the steps. We ultimately had to find a different place on the steps to sit, but that did not hinder the experience; for when the fireworks started, we could still see them perfectly. Being in Paris for its national holiday is one thing, but I am very grateful for having the opportunity to watch the fireworks over the Eiffel Tower with someone that was just as important to me as the experience I had.
About the Author: Bailey Hill: I am from a small town in Illinois and am studying Astrophysics at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. I spent a month in France in the summer of 2012 and that totally changed my life! I love writing and traveling, and twitter.