Today Paris’s beautiful Panthéon building is a fitting final resting place for the nation’s great figures. However, it was originally built as a church, on the instigation of Louis XV to celebrate his recovery from a serious bout of gout in 1744. Dedicated to Sainte Geneviève, the structure was finished in 1790 and was intended to look like the Pantheon in Rome, hence the name; in fact it more closely resembles St Paul’s Cathedral in London. During the Revolution it was turned into a mausoleum, but Napoleon gave it back to the church in 1806. It was later deconsecrated, handed back to the church once more, before finally becoming a public building in 1885.

  • Place du Panthéon, 75005

  • 01 44 32 18 00

  • Open Apr–Sep 10am– 6:30pm daily; Oct–Mar 10am–6pm daily. Closed 1 Jan, 1 May, 25 Dec.

  • €7.50 (under 25s €4.80, under 18s free)

  • Disabled access to main floor only

Louis Braille

One of the most influential citizens to be buried in the Panthéon is Louis Braille. Born in France in 1809, Braille became blind at the age of three; at nine he attended the National Institute for the Young Blind in Paris and proved to be a gifted student. He continued at the Institute as a teacher and, in 1829, had the idea of adapting a coding system in use by the army, by turning words and letters into raised dots on card. Reading braille transformed the lives of blind people forever. Its inventor died in 1852.

Crêpes à Gogo

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  • 12 rue Soufflot

  • open 7am–11pm

is an ideal pit stop for a crêpe, coffee and an ice-cream.

Ticket sales stop 45 minutes before closing time, so arrive on time.

Top 10 Features
  1. Dome

    Inspired by Sir Christopher Wren’s design of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, as well as by the Dôme Church at Les Invalides, this iron-framed dome is made up of three layers. At the top a narrow opening only lets in a tiny amount of natural light, in keeping with the building’s sombre purpose.

  2. Dome Galleries

    A staircase leads to the galleries immediately below the dome, affording spectacular 360-degree panoramic views of Paris. The pillars surrounding the galleries are both decorative and functional, providing essential support for the dome.

  3. Crypt

    The crypt is eerily impressive in its scale compared to most tiny, dark church crypts. Here lie the tombs and memorials to French citizens deemed worthy of burial here, including the prolific French writer Emile Zola .

  4. Frescoes of Sainte Geneviève

    Delicate murals by 19th-century artist Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, on the south wall of the nave, tell the story of Sainte Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris. In 451 she is believed to have saved the city from invasion by the barbaric Attila the Hun and his hordes due to the power of her prayers.

  5. Foucault’s Pendulum

    In 1851 French physicist Jean Foucault (1819–68) followed up an earlier experiment to prove the earth’s rotation by hanging his famous pendulum from the dome of the Panthéon. The plane of the pendulum’s swing rotated 11° clockwise each hour in relation to the floor, thereby proving Foucault’s theory.

  6. Monument to Diderot

    French philosopher Denis Diderot (1713– 84) is honoured by this grand 1925 monument by Alphonse Terroir.

  7. Façade

    The Panthéon’s façade was inspired by Roman design. The 22 Corinthian columns support both the portico roof and bas-reliefs.

    Panthéon façade
  8. Pediment Relief

    The bas-relief above the entrance shows a female figure, representing France, handing out laurels to the great men of the nation – the same way that Greeks and Romans honoured their heroes.

  9. Tomb of Voltaire

    A statue of the great writer, wit and philosopher Voltaire (1694– 1788) stands in front of his tomb.

  10. Tomb of Victor Hugo

    The body of the French author was carried to the Panthéon in a pauper’s hearse, at his own request.

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