It was a surprise and a delight to discover Hôtel Sainte Beuve, on a tiny, quiet street near the Blvd Raspail market, and a block from the Luxembourg Gardens.
I didn’t even know the street existed.
Inside the discreet entrance is a softly lit foyer with velvet armchairs and overstuffed sofa, where guests can warm up with a cup of tea and a working fireplace on a fall afternoon.
Breakfast, supplied by artisan bakers and fromagers, takes place beside the zinc bar in the next room. Cocktails are served here at the end of the day.
Each room is unique, outfitted with flea market furniture, distressed coatracks, and good linens. Most are superior rooms, with modern bathrooms and double or twin beds — a very good value. And very quiet.
But shhhh, don’t tell! All but hidden, the Ste Beuve is a little Left Bank secret.
The newly renovated Pantheon is one of the most beautiful monuments in Paris.
The building was erected as a church shortly before the French Revolution, and from the outside, its proportions, pediment, and columns still evoke reverence. With an austere Neoclassical facade, modeled after the Pantheon in Rome, the Paris Panthéon sits atop Montagne Saint Geneviève, overlooking the Luxembourg Gardens. Its dome, the highest in Paris, can be seen from the Seine.
The inside is rich, harmonious, and suffused with natural light. Frescoed walls tell the life story of Paris patron saint Geneviève (including a painting by Puvis de Chavannes). Marble floors support statues of French heros.
Physicist Léon Foucault’s 67-meter pendulum swings beneath the central dome, and below ground are the tombs of Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Jean Moulin, Pierre and Marie Curie, and many more important French revolutionaries, resistance fighters, and thinkers.
The Panthéon is a place to steep yourself in French history, art, and culture. Don’t miss it on your next stroll through the Left Bank.