Sightseeing in Paris

Raphael Reitzig

Summer 2014

Sightseeing in Paris (Summer 2014)

Relaxing from work

In June I attended the AofA conference. During lunch breaks and in the evenings a couple of doctorands banded together and walked around Paris.

A smaller arc with an intricate pattern Beautiful houses everywhere Pompidou is a bit of an eyesore. Saint-Jacques Tower They sure put a lot of locks on this bridge. An old Roman arena. They used to stage gladiator and even sea battles here! What is this?! (Sorry, beautiful stranger, I hope you hide from the kraken well enough.) Pacman near Pompidou

Musée des Arts et Métiers

They have a small Statue of Liberty outside. Will it hold?

My colleague and I spent our free afternoon geeking out in the technology museum of one of the biggest Parisean universities. There are so many tools used by the old masters in there that I filled my SD card to the brim.

Intricately worked measures for grain (1675) Oil measures (1741) Indicator of a spring scale with units for multiple major cities (17xx) Nope, not Pixar. This was used to experiment with lightning. (17xx) Balance point of a precision scale (18xx) Hyperboloid (1830)

As a computer scientist, seeing early computing devices is particularly exciting.

Circular multiplying machine by Didier Roth (1841) An ALU (1889) Calculator (19xx) Universal pocket calculator (1953) User interface of an IBM 7030 (1961) It's a 64 bit computer! Internal wiring of the Cray-2 (1985)

After that glimpse into modern technology, we went back in time again:

An automatic loom (1748). How does it work?! Circular loom (189x) Model of a foundry (1912) Letters used for printing A hand-cranked printing press A letter press plate with impressive detail, used for testing letters. (1895). The resulting print. That looks completely safe.

We ran out of time towards the end; I may have to go back there one day.

Back for the sights

In July I went to Paris again for a weekend in order to meet some people. I stayed at Plug Inn Hostel in Montmartre near Moulin Rouge. It’s a friendly, clean and affordable (by Paris standards) place to stay if you don’t mind sharing room and facilities with strangers. It also has 24/7 check-in which comes in handy if you arrive in the middle of the night.

It's tiny! This is all the hallway there is, literally. A less than decisive shaming graffiti on the wall. Kudos to Ricky Bobby for confusing the bullies! Moulin Rouge in daylight. Not too impressive. Ah, that's better.


At some point in the past, the cemeteries of France threatened to overflow. The (alive) population summarily dug up all the rotten corpses and put the bones into their old sandstone quarry beneath the city. Add some dim lighting and you have a perfect tourist attraction.

There was some queueing Underground sandcastles? We descend into the tombs The way is shut. The dead are watching Somebody had a morbid sense of humour even then. Many of the skulls have been bashed in. Did it happen pre-, peri- or post-mortem? Walls of bones line our way We found Swedish in Paris!

Interlude I

The catacombs took us so long that we had to get lunch, ice cream and some rest. In that order.

Ice cream! Lots of tourists at and on the Seine. Oh wait.

Notre Dame

On to Notre Dame! Unfortunately, some international children choir meeting was taking place and getting into the building was impossible. So up we went!

Ploughing through a throng of children choirs More queueing! Worth it. The kids are done singing Safe the idiots! The tower top has seen some abuse Oh, it *has* a real tower! Happy choir kids


No photos allowed inside, but you can find some online. It’s a beautiful basilica with lots of mosaics (rather than paintings).

Looking up Looking down

And look what we found nearby:

The Space Invaders have come to Paris!

Classic music & Epilogue

A friend and I went to listen to a string plus harpsichord chamber concert in Sainte-Chapelle. We heard Pachelbel, Mozart and Vivaldi. It was so beautiful I did not take many (usable) pictures.

A small part of the chapel windows.

To conclude the day, we walked a bit north, a welcome breeze cooling our faces after the sunny day.

We came by Point Zero again, only this time it was not hidden beneath a dozen choirs! There are still people in Pompidou! As befits an otherwise unsightly house front near an art museum. Amazing street art One Mojito for the road

A wander through Paris

The next day I was meeting another friend in the afternoon so I decided to see a couple of things despite the weather until then.

More choir kids! This was apparently the final event of their festival. The military base at Les Invalides has a long tradition of defending its soil against spies. Strange how artistically built an instrument of death can be. Paris prepares for the national holiday. Standing beneath a steel behemoth. Learning about taking stitch-shots; how not to do them, specifically. Neat folding street shop Onwards! The Two Towers

Jardin des Plantes

One Metro ride later I ventured into one of Paris’ bigger parks.

Lots of people are out despite the weather True enough, there are plants here. Creepy much? Chicken or egg?

The park is home to a host of museums. Sticking to the theme established the day before, I chose the one with the most bones.

Greetings, human visitor! This is what awaits you. Mrs Hyena brought friends. Most would want to eat you. Rhinos are impressive. Even dead. Alligators, too. They've even got whales! Okay, that guy's definitely hungry. Bad stitch of a great beast And of course they'd have a mammoth. Goodbye, human visitor! See you in the woods.

That’s it! There is much more to see in Paris, of course. See you soon!