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Thursday
Dec012011

Postcard: Two Views of Rue Soufflot & Pantheon

This week's postcards offer two different views of one of my favorite intersections in all of Paris - Rue Soufflot at Boulevard St. Michel. This is right at the edge of the 6th and 5th Arrondisements, with the 6th behind you as you face the Latin Quarter in the 5th. If you were standing at this spot, the Jardins de Luxembourg would be behind you, with the Medici Fountain and all it's gorgeous lime walkways and chestnut trees.

I love this spot because it's a wonderful, colorful neighborhood that mixes families and students, parks and museums. The Sorbonne is just down the street, and the honored French of bygones past are held within the massive dome of the Pantheon. It's all very formal and informal at once. There's cafes, shops, tabacs, ice cream vendors with carts, and the best Sandwhich Grec (that's French for gyro) just up the way...

The first postcard is probably from just after World War I, judging by the clothes and the types of transportation. There's a bus, but there's also a few horse-drawn carts here and there... Meanwhile, the second one comes in much closer and shows a great reflection in the fountain of the roundabout. I'm assuming this shot is from the 1930s because of the cars. It also has a scalloped edge, and is from the famous postcard producer Guy.

As for Soufflot? He was the architect who built the Pantheon. Jacques-Germain Soufflot was the Controller of the King's Buildings in the final years of the Ancien Régime; he was also a representative figure in the artistic avant-garde of the Enlightenment. Several great national institutions wer designed by him (like the Louvre...) but the Pantheon is his greatest achievement.

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