Paris: Food

September 13, 2011 § 2 Comments

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During our week in Paris, Nick and I tried various kinds of restaurants as well as food. We ate a few prix fixe meals that guaranteed us an appetizer, main course, and dessert. We ate a lot of fish, duck, and lamb. We ate enormous salads, sometimes with more cheese than vegetables. I drank a lot of wine and a bit of beer and champagne. I drank coffee every day, sometimes twice a day, as opposed to my usual once-a-month coffee. I even got Nick to order a cup of it!

We also had a few meals consisting of takeout (or ’emporter’ en Francias!) on our balcony. It’s great to eat out in a full-service restaurant, but Paris offers a lot of portable food like the ever-popular baguette sandwich. Delicious, extremely French, and much more affordable than lunch at a cafe!

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You can’t visit Paris without tasting their baked goods and pastries. Each morning, I’d head to the Patisserie across the street to pick up buttery croissants, pain au chocolat, and a cafe au lait for myself. The croissants in Paris are crisp on the outside and moist and buttery on the inside. Yum!

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Don’t forget the macaroon! It’s the new cupcake, you know.

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I certainly ate my fill of pasta.

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One of my favourite meals was a gaffe (or savory crepe) and coffee I had from a tiny Creperie on a back street of St-Germain. The shop only had about three tables and it was run by two women, who looked to be sisters. The young daughter of one of the women entertained us by playing with a crown made out of paper and smiling at us sweetly. A French babe in the making.

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Did you know?

– The French invented the restaurant.

– The French respect the art of the restaurant so much that they expect everyone to enjoy it as much as they do. If you dare ask for your cheque before you’re finished your meal, they just may refuse to bring it to you. They want you to take your time and enjoy your food properly.

– To be a server in a restaurant in Paris is not what it is in North America – it is a serious profession and is regarded highly and paid as such.

– If you’re going out for dinner or lunch to a nice restaurant, put a little effort into your look – that means no ugly shoes or fannypacks!

I’m curious: what would you eat first in Paris?

Musée du Louvre

September 9, 2011 § 2 Comments

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One of the things you just have to do while in Paris is visit the Louvre Museum. Originally built as a fortress and palace for Phillip II hundreds of years ago, the Louvre has seen many changes, additions of wings, and the like, and now the Louvre is enormous and beautiful. Some say you could live in Paris for a month, visiting the Louvre regularly, and still not see everything in the museum.

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We managed to visit the outside of the Louvre the day before we set out to explore the inside. We took a stroll through Jardin des Tuileries, the park that leads up to the museum. It was a gorgeous day and the sunbathers were taking advantage of the reclining chairs by the fountain.

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It was surreal to walk and walk and see the enormous museum forming in the distance.

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A couple taking their wedding photos in front of the arch.

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Once we passed under this archway, we crossed a road that runs through the museum and arrived in front of the Louvre.

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People just seem to plant themselves in front of the Louvre, sitting on the sides of the fountains, and hang out for hours.

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The next morning, we woke up early and arrived 10 minutes before the museum opened. There was already a massive line, but since we bought our tickets in advance online, we got to wait in the much shorter one.

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As soon as we were let in, everyone headed straight to the Grande Galerie. It’s by far the most popular and most crowded part of the museum, housing all the famous Italian and Renaissance paintings as well as the most famous painting in the world…

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The Mona Lisa is kept behind temperature-controlled glass, a wooden barrier, and a rope to keep the crowds away from the barrier. It’s also much smaller than you’d think! Either way, I couldn’t believe I was actually looking at the original Mona Lisa.

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After getting to the front of the crowd and snapping some photos, we let everyone else have their turns and explored the rest of the gorgeous space.

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So many works of art! Some so big, I don’t understand how they were painted!

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So much religious imagery. I wish I could tell you the names and artists of all the paintings, but I I’d have to make them up.

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So much detail in everything at the Louvre.

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Nick beside paintings about the same size as a studio apartment in NYC.

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Who doesn’t enjoy a cabinet full of mummified animals?

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And their former owner.

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Venus de Milo

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We took a break in the cafeteria after putting in a few hours. It felt like Ikea.

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Then watched some more (by which I mean several hundred) people enter the museum down the stairs under the glass pyramid.

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We headed back to the Grande Galerie when we realized we forgot about Da Vinci’s other paintings.

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He looks like he was a cool guy.

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This is what the Louvre originally looked like:

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Of course we had to find the inverse pyramid, because according to Dan Brown, the holy grail is buried underneath it. Apparently it’s also where you leave your kids to play while you visit the Starbucks and Apple Store in the museum.

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We spent about 4 hours walking around the museum. We did not see all of it, but we were happy with what we saw. A word of advice for those who will visit Paris: don’t walk down the Eiffel Tower the night before you plan to walk around the Louvre for an entire day. Your legs won’t thank you ;)

Still more Paris to come!

The Eiffel Tower

September 8, 2011 § 3 Comments

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What better way to begin my coverage of Paris than with the Eiffel Tower?

Nick and I headed there the second night of our stay just before sunset. I couldn’t have thought of a more perfect time to view the whole city from above.

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There were huge lines at all four legs of the tower to purchase tickets to ride up. We picked the “Plier Est” or Eastern leg and waited the long long wait to buy our tickets and then to ride the elevator up.

We couldn’t go to the very top because it was too full already, but we rode to the 2e etage (or 2nd level) which was high enough for us!

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The view from the elevator going up

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Looking North

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Looking down on Champs de Mars, the park beside the tower

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The Seine River

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The deck of the 2nd level was packed. I don’t know if sunset is just a very popular time to visit the tower, or if it’s always busy. I’m guessing the latter

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The restaurant inside the tower – apparently it’s very expensive and requires reservations months in advance!

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The people below us look like ants!

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The metal that makes up the tower looks beautiful and interesting at night, when it’s lit up by very strong spotlights.

What no one tells you when you go up the Eiffel Tower is that you have to walk back down! I didn’t get as dizzy as I thought I would, but my calves were aching for days afterwards.

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Happy to be on the ground again

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A pretty carousel across from the Eiffel Tower

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Just as we turned around and were about to conclude our visit to the tower, it lit up and started to sparkle! Then of course we had to stay and take many many more photos.

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Although we had to deal with many pushy tourists from all over the world and one of the longest lines we faced all week, visiting the Eiffel Tower was definitely a highlight of our trip. How could I refuse the photo ops?

Stay tuned for much more Paris!

Paris, day 5

September 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

As our Paris vacation comes to a close, we have started to slow down. We have been all over the city on both sides of the Seine and have seen almost everything we wanted to, so we are now focusing on the vacation part of our trip and spending most of our time relaxing and eating.

I think Paris has finally convinced me that coffee is something worth drinking every day, or at the very least in the company of a delicious crepe!

Day Trois in Paris

August 31, 2011 § 2 Comments

Nick and I spent our evening last night at the Eiffel Tower. There was a huge line to ride the elevator up, but it worked out in our favour that we got up just as the sun was setting, which made for some beautiful photos. Just as we were leaving, the light show started!

This morning we woke up early to get to the Louvre just as it opened. We saw the Mona Lisa, three other Da Vincis, the original castle parts of the Medieval Louvre, some mummies, amongst other things. We decided not to spend the entire day as we thought we would since it ended up being a gorgeous day (I’m finally wearing shorts!) and our legs were tired from climbing all the way down the Eiffel Tower!

Of course there will be many more photos to come once I’m home ;)

Paris

August 30, 2011 § 4 Comments

We are in Paris and it is gorgeous!

We can’t even pretend we’re not tourists because neither of us are fluent in French.

Everyone is dressed amazingly and confidently. I’m constantly studying the ladies and taking note of fashion tips.

That’s okay, we are both happier than this guy:

Today, we tackled the Grands Boulevards and department stores, L’eglise de Mary Magdalene and conquered le metro. Tonight, possibly the Eiffel Tower. Tomorrow, the Louvre!

It’s almost time

August 17, 2011 § 2 Comments

One week til Europe! What have I done to prepare, you may ask? I bought a few Paris guidebooks and read one cover to cover. I highlighted all the things and places that sounded interesting and once I was finished the book, I went back and put all my markers into a Word document, sorted by neighborhood (or arrondissement). Then I created a day to day schedule and put the most interesting must-sees into the time we had available. The result is a realistic, but adventure-filled week in Paris!

I will surely have much more detail for you once I experience it firsthand, but here are a few things I’m looking forward to.

The Eiffel Tower – open daily 9:00am – 12:45am. We plan on visiting somewhere between sunset and nighttime.

Champs de Mars – the gorgeous public park by the Eiffel Tower.

Louvre – We already have an entire day set aside to spend at one of the world’s largest, most incredible museums. Nick is ready to nerd out, Da Vinci Code style.

Les Deux Magots Cafe – a famous cafe in St-Germain where the intellectual and artistic legends of yore used to meet. Among them, Hemingway and Picasso.

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Deyrolle – “The strangest shop in all of Paris” sounds like a taxidermy zoo!

Grande Galerie de l’Evolution – The story of evolution told with real stuffed animals. Yes, we love animals, alive or dead.

Panthéon – An important architectural icon built slowly throughout the late 1700s.

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Shakespeare & Co. Bookstore – Established by a woman from New Jersey in 1919, this bookstore was a gathering place for writers like James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, and William S. Burroughs. Just looking at this picture sends me to a happy place.

Auberge Nicolas Flamel – His name will sound familiar to my fellow Harry Potter fans, but maybe like me, you didn’t think he was real. Wrong – Flamel was the most successful of European chemists and, as legend has it, he created the Philosopher’s Stone, which turns lead into gold and can grant immortality. His house is the oldest in Paris, built in 1407, and is now a restaurant.

Hôtels particuliers (mansions) – Apparently Le Marais is full of beautiful old mansions, bursting with history. We will find them!

I have many more items on my agenda, but I won’t give them all away just yet. Stay tuned for full coverage upon my return in September!

Have you ever been to Paris? What were your favorite things to do or see?

{photos above from Pinterest, unless stated otherwise}

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