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DIY The Da Vinci Code Tour: Paris Part II

Friday, January 28, 2005

Paris: Part II

A Monk Visits Saint-Sulpice

In The Da Vinci Code An albino monk-assassin connected with Opus Dei pays a visit to Saint-Sulpice, where he searches for a keystone believed to unlock the secret of the Grail. The sole occupant of the church, Sister Sandrine, watches the monk from a distance, but her phone call for help is cut short.

On Tour
Saint-Sulpice. Despite the presence of two magnificent Delacroix frescoes, Jacob Wrestling with the Angel and Heliodorus Driven from the Temple, the interior of Saint-Sulpice is oddly impersonal. Dubbed the Cathedral of the Rive Gauche, this enormous 17th-century church has entertained some unlikely christenings -- those of the Marquis de Sade and the poet Charles Baudelaire, for instance -- and the nuptials of the irreverent wordsmith Victor Hugo. The 18th-century facade was never finished, and its unequal towers add a playful touch to an otherwise sober design. Near the middle of the nave on the right side, you can locate one end of the Rose Line near a stone statue with a Latin inscription. The Rose Line, a narrow brass strip, marks the original zero-longitude line, which passed through Paris before being moved to Greenwich, England. The monk uses the line as a reference point in his quest for the Holy Grail. You can retrace his path from the stone statue north across the nave and transept to an obelisk next to the statue of St Peter. (The enormous organ mentioned in the book is in a rear chapel.)
ADDRESS: place Saint-Sulpice.
NEIGHBORHOOD: Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
MÉTRO: Saint-Sulpice.

Château Villette

In The Da Vinci Code
Unable to break the code that will open the cryptex and reveal the secrets of the Grail, Neveu and Langdon turn to art historian Sir Leigh Teabing for help. Holed up in the splendid 17th-century Château Villette with a ne'er-do-well manservant, Teabing is more than willing to help.

On Tour
Château Villette. A mere 30 minutes from Paris, near the Château de Versailles, sits the regal Château Villette, laid out on a 240-acre spread in 1668 by architect Francois Mansart. Built for the Count of Aufflay, Louis XIV's ambassador to Venice, the château is not open to the public. Plutocrats, Hollywood celebrities, and others plunk down 6,500 euros a day (one-week minimum) to rent the manse, which includes 18 rooms and 17 bathrooms, all decked out in fabulous 17th-century French decor. The famous gardens surrounding the château were designed by André Le Nôtre, mastermind of the gardens at Versailles.

Cracking the Code

Getting There: The Da Vinci Code being fiction, some characters simply find themselves in Paris, and one of them is supposed to land at Charles de Gaulle airport but ends up not doing so. For we mere mortals, commercial aviation must suffice.
Where to Stay: At the Ritz, of course. Pinching euros? Check out these other Louvre/Tuileries hotels.
Getting Around: All the Parisian settings mentioned above, except Château Villette, are accessible via the métro. If you've got the money to book Château Villette, your hosts will arrange transportation as part of the rental.
Suggested Route: Start at the Ritz, pausing first to appreciate the grace and serenity of the octagonal place Vendôme. With its double necklace of ornate 19th-century-style streetlamps, the area surrounding the Ritz is especially striking at night. From here, take the métro (Opéra to Palais-Royal) or walk to the Louvre. In the Epilogue, Dan Brown describes a route to the Louvre that works fine by auto, but for a more scenic stroll make a detour onto rue Saint-Honoré, the sophisticated artery of the rich and class-conscious 1st Arrondissement. To get to rue Saint-Honoré from place Vendôme, head south on rue de Castiglione and make a quick right. Au courant boutiques like Colette line rue Saint-Honoré. At place André Malraux, make a right turn on rue Richelieu as it pours onto the rue de Rivoli; cross this last street and enter the Louvre via the arched access to the Court Napoléon, where I.M. Pei's pyramid is situated.
From the Louvre, head south into the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood to place Saint-Sulpice and its namesake church (Métro: Palais-Royal to Saint-Sulpice). Should you come across an albino monk, keep your distance. It's a walk of more than 3 miles from the church to the Champs-Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe, so you might want to take the métro (Saint-Sulpice to Étoile). The Bois de Bologne is just a bit west of here, and the supposed location of the Depository Bank of Zurich is to the south. If you take the métro from the Porte d'Auteuil subway station to Gare Saint-Lazare, you'll be tracing underground the route Sophie takes to the train station.

The next part of the tour is Rome.
posted by Ivan, 1:15 pm


i am looking forwrd to the rome posting.that is where the action is in the book. enjoyed ur account. are u actually doing the tour now? or have done it allready? or just providing the references fr books etc?
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 1/29/2005 06:40:00 pm


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