One of my favorite restaurants in Paris is La Terrasse, directly across from l’Ecole Militaire, in the hub of the Metro stop and the crossing for le Tour Eiffel. This spot entails one of my favorite aspects of Paris: the glorious building steeped in ancient history juxtaposed with the hustle of bustle of Paris’ modern tourist industry.
L’Ecole Militaire, now metro stop on the 8th line closest to le Tour Eiffel, was created at the request of Madame Pompadour, to give lower class young men the opportunity to advance themselves through the military, by training to become an officer at L’Ecole Militaire. The extravagant, massive building is surrounded by black wrought iron gates and is frought with winding driveways throughout the premises.
Today, this spot sees the passage of hundreds of people a day coming and going to and from the Metro stop, walking around on their way to Champ de Mars and le Tour Eiffel, hopping on and off the tour buses, and just strolling around, experiencing all that modernized Paris has to offer. Parisians and visitors alike swarm this area every day, most not stopping to admire the grandeur of this structure and its urban campus-like grounds that was once so prestigious.
Every arrondissement has its unique flavor and history. Le quartier Latin is so called because it was the site of the first University of Paris, for international students and Latin was the unifying tongue in which classes were conducted. Les Halles on la rive gauche is so named for the central marker built in the 12th century by Phillip Augustus to enhance commercial attraction and to gain favor with the merchant class. Each part of Paris retains some aspect of its history forever.
That’s what I love about Paris. All the buildings that are now used as cafés, grocery stores, or apartments were once designed with an ancient building plan, either for a wealthy family or a small shop. Every building has a story to tell, and each holds its unique piece of ancient Parisian history. People admire the window flower boxes, the sunlight beaming through the full-length windows, and the beautiful designs of the buildings, but I love thinking about the first inhabitants, or who commissioned its architecture and why its was created to look the way it does.
That’s something about Paris that will never grow old- everything will always keep changing and evolving as the times progress, but buildings will never lose their historical value, and Paris will never lose the charm and nostalgia of its ancient history.