A curious monument to the astronomer, François Arago

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From the Porte de Montmartre to the Louvre

The 19th century French astronomer François Arago carried out studies on the meridian and the measurement of the Earth. In 1994, as a memorial to his work, it was decided to set 135 bronze medallions into the pavements of Paris along the meridian which was for many years a rival to the Greenwich meridian.

Having experienced for more years than I care to remember the "metro, boulot, dodo" (underground, work, sleep) of so many residents of Paris and the "petit couronne" (close suburbs), I now try to get off the beaten track on the rare occasions whenever I revisit the capital.

My latest walk (in March 2009) took me in search of the Arago medallions.

It is not as easy as all that to mark off on your list the dozens of medallions which were put in place.

A street market vendor is unlikely to take kindly to your suggestion to gather up his wares, a covey of motorbikes parked on the pavement represent an unmoveable and opaque obstacle, resurfacing of pavements without replacing the medallions or simply theft perhaps by fans of the Dan Brown novel, The Da Vinci Code, all contribute to your difficulties and frustrations.

But there is pleasure to be found in the landscape and curiosities of Montmartre: French franc coins scattered over the wet tar are now set into the pavement and here is the windmill or Moulin de la Galette restaurant popular with artists.

After passing through the more austere area of insurance company offices around the rue Lafayette, and an area of the older Paris close to the Paris archives, you reach the Palais royal and the Louvre. If it is time to be thinking of lunch, you will be spoilt for choice in this area of countless restaurants.

For my part, I shall cover the section from the Cité Universitaire back to the Louvre on my next visit to Paris.

A number of websites give information on the Arago medallions. Here are just a few:

And for two other walks through Paris, visit: