Sunday, August 5, 2012

Paris is a moveable feast....and I'm eating all the carbs

Needless to say, Sara's last post totally resonates with me. I actually cannot believe the French can produce athletes like that when they have access to such unbelievable food. But I'm sure most of you would like to hear about more than just meals, so I'll try to keep it balanced and just go chronologically through events and meals alike.

As I mentioned last time, we went to the Notre Dame towers on Wednesday, which was fantastic. We had breakfast (des tartines, aka baguette plus butter and jam, and café crème) at a nearby café before getting in line to go up. Talk about an incredible view:

Who doesn't LOVE gargoyles?

We even got to visit Quasi Modo's bell!
 After that visit, we were free for lunch before we had to be back at the MEC for class. En route to lunch we saw these children:

If only the UW gave us such cute outfits. 

We wandered over to the Latin Quarter and found a cute little restaurant where I had the most delicious pasta possibly that I've ever had. It was so good. The only thing keeping me from finishing the last two or three bites was the knowledge that I had gotten an entree+dessert deal. Since I had gotten tarte aux pommes the night before, and Julie got the mousse au chocolat, naturally we decided to trade. 


Then we headed back for class, after which we decided that we ought to go out and find crêpes for dinner. We didn't find them right away so we stopped at a bakery and got various things, mine being a sandwich au chèvre (aka butter and goat cheese on a baguette - remember the thing I mentioned about the carbs?). Delicious, per usual, but we still really wanted crêpes, so we went on a hunt. We stumbled upon the most wonderful crêpe place yet with an incredible number of choices. Chelsea got pear and chocolate, Julie got a caramel apple one, Kelesy got an apple flambé that ended up being heavy on the alcohol (pictured below but you can't see the fire), and I got Nutella aka what I always get even though I say I'm going to try something new. But they were all delicious, and we sat there for hours after getting coffee, laughing and talking and watching the olympics. I think that's one of my favorite aspects of French culture. They want you to enjoy yourself, so as long as you aren't keeping a table from someone else, they won't bring you the check or try to rush you out. It's ok to relax and enjoy yourself, and we certainly did :)

The next morning we talked about the architecture of Notre Dame and had breakfast at the same place, but croissants this time. Then we headed over to St. Chappelle, which is the chapel St. Louis had built to house relics that, if I remember correctly, included part of Jesus's crown of thorns.

The stained glass is super beautiful and retells the stories of the Bible. 

Next we walked over to the Conciergerie (all of these buildings are, by the way, on the Ile de la Cité). It was the prison of the Revolution and therefore home to Marie Antionette and a few other well known people disliked by the revolutionaries. 

Inside, where the cells were, they have wax figures to give you an idea of what life was like at the Conciergerie. For example, this is the concierge, or the guy who had all of the keys, etc. 

This is what is was like for regular/not rich people (see the straw floor):

Some old school hand cuffs and keys:

This is the chapel Marie Antoinette's brother-in-law had built over the place where her cell actually was.

Next to it they've recreated what the cell would have looked like, wax figure and all. Her room was much nicer than the straw floor.

We went back by Notre Dame to find a crêpe place for lunch, but only Chelsea got a savory crêpe, and the rest of us got quiche or pasta. Then Julie and I got dessert crêpes while the other two got gelato. Julie and I should have gotten gelato. These crêpes were not up to the standard of the night before, especially Julie's caramel crêpe. Mine was actually pretty solid (I got Nutella again, which is hard to mess up), but I think I was very hot and so wished I had ice cream.

We went back for class and then I had to get ready to go out to dinner with the sister of a family friend, Kristin, and her son, Kenann. I found my way to her office from the MEC and we met her son and drove into the Latin Quarter. We went to a little restaurant called Roger la Grenouille aka Roger the Frog. It was super cute and absolutely fabulous. I even tried frog legs, which were surprisingly delicious, and I had one of Kenann's escargot, which was good. Also, my dessert was mille feuille with strawberries, which I didn't take a picture of, but Kristin did, so I'm hoping she'll send it to me. It was, of course, delicious.

We took a short walk for a beautiful view of the Seine :)
The next day, Mme gave us pain au chocolat and café au lait at the MEC before our departure for St. Denis. I could most definitely eat pain au chocolat everyday. Forever. 

St. Denis is also very cool. It was built by St. Genviève (or because she said so) in honor of St. Denis, who is said to have walked to this spot while carrying his head after being decapitated. He was France's first martyr. 

Inside is where all the kings of France were buried. It was customary to take out their hearts and put them in something up on a sort of pedestal like this:

And now you can see Louis XVII's heart (above). They thought he ran away during the revolution as a child but years later found his heart, and according to the presentation we heard on it, DNA has verified that it's him.

It's in the crypt area under ground, which I think is where they used to keep all of the bodies, but I'm not sure because it's not a terribly huge space. Now they have a lot of the actual pedestals and tombs (I'm not sure if that's the right word) upstairs in the church area.

During the Revolution the bodies were taken out and got all mixed up, so when they went to put them back later they had to just put them all in one area with a list on it:

But they still have what were the tombs (again not sure on terminology...sarcophagi maybe?). People did different things with them. Catherine de Medici had the one on the left made after Henri II died, but it scared her that it was so realistic, so she had the one on the right created. 

After St. Denis, we had lunch at the same place where I had the delicious pasta, but this time I got des moulles:
Possibly the most delicious seafood I've ever had. 

I should have mentioned that we chose that restaurant not only because we loved it the first time but because it's across the street from the Musée du Moyen Age aka Musée Cluny, where we needed to go anyway! It's a beautiful museum, but hard to take photos because you can't use flash. Here's just a couple of the outside and of the original statues of the Kings of Judah from Notre Dame (someone thought they were the kings of France and tore them down during the Revolution, so the current ones are replicas).

OK this might officially be the world's longest blog post (or at least my longest post), so I'll wrap it up. That night we bought ice cream and cookies at the store (knock of petit ecoliers are the greatest thing EVER at 83 centimes) and successfully watched the Hunchback of Notre Dame online. It was a good night. I'll tell you about my weekend trip to Vannes later :)

Bonne Nuit!

1 comment:

  1. my inner ap euro student wants to see all the french revolution history! it's all so cool! and i saw your pics at monet's garden ahhh so amazing, i want to go!