Friday, February 24, 2012

Across the channel

Bonjour mes amis!  Or perhaps I should say 'Ello guvnah!  I had a delightful day working at La Cusine today, and now I am about to pack for my trip to London!  I'm taking the chunnel tomorrow night after work, and I'll be in London until Thursday.  Sadly the train doesn't go to King's Cross Station, so I'll have to make another trip to go and see platform 9 and 3/4.  I'll be meeting up with some college friends and some high school friends while I'm there.  I have a lengthy list of touristy things to do, and I am very excited to get back to London.  I was there when I was 9 with Dad's Harvard OPM reunion, and it was one of my favorite family vacations.  I remember the English breakfast at the Ritz, lunch at the House of Lords (complete with gift shop visit), the London Eye, the Tower of London, and eating our way through Windsor.  I also remember being extremely jetlagged and falling asleep next to my dinner the night we arrived and being wierded out by drivers on the other side of the road.  At least that won't happen this time!  Here are some pictures of my favorite British things......

One of the best series ever written.  Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is my favorite.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man of good fortune must be in want of a wife.
"Mr. Bennett!  Did you hear that Netherfield Park is let at last?"
Emma Watson.  In Burberry.  Both British, both fantastic.

England's culinary contribution to the world, fish and chips. 
My host mom keeps telling me that English food is awful. 
Queen Elizabeth I
I find the small dog/rat that is next to her very amusing.

Well, this is an American movie, but it's about Shakespeare, so I'm calling it British.  Great movie.

She's amazing. 
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
Pippa Middleton
Prince Harry
The Beatles.  My all time favorite Brits. 

I'm staying in a hostel near Hyde Park, so I'm not sure what the Internet situation will be like.  Worst case scenario I'll post about my petit voyage when I come back to Paris!


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Le Marais et La Nourriture dans le Marais

Oh la la, it's been a busy two days!  Brace yourselves for a lot of photos.  Yesterday was Mardi Gras and our Monuments class trip to Le Marais. We have been discussing the middle ages in class, and the Marais is one of the older districts and has many old nobles' mansions or hotels.  Way back in the day, the area was a swamp, which is where its name comes from.  Marais=swamp.  It's not swampy anymore though! Now it's chic and trendy.
 Hotel de Sens

very similar to the musee du Cluny...Hotel de Sens was built in 1475
It is now home to the Bibliotheque Forney, a library about the history of Paris.

 Part of the old wall surrounding Paris during the time of Phillip Augustus.  Yep, it's that old.

 Public fountain, added to the district in 1872

 Hotel de Beauvais, built from 1656-1660
Now it is an administrative justice building.  I wish I lived here...

 Decorative carvings of rams and lions

Mozart stayed here when he was in Paris in 1763!

 The oldest houses in Paris!  They've been around since Charles V was king in the late 1300s. 

 St. Gervais Church, across from.....

Hotel de Ville
(City Hall)
Time out for a "nuances of the French language" moment. There is an exhibition going on there now, and whenever I walk by the line is very long.  When I mentioned the "exhibition" to my host family.  I got some weird looks.  Then they laughed.  It turns out that the word doesn't translate well.  L'exposition is what I should have said.  L'exhibition is something you would see at the Moulin Rouge; it's entertainment of an adult nature....not exactly polite dinner conversation.  Oops!  Lesson learned.

 Hotel de Soubise
Owned by a wealthy noble during the reign of Louis XIV.  The big courtyard shows that he could afford to spend money on land in Paris.

 Hotel de Lamoignon
Built for an illegitimate daughter of Henri II.  She was called Diana, and she got to be a Princess anyway.  The stone is carved with moons and deer to represent Diana, the Roman goddess.

 I thought that many stores would be decorated in green, gold, and purple for the holiday but none were. The French celebrate the day before lent by eating crepes.  I'm ok with that!I had a honey crepe with my friends before our tour, a savory ham, cheese and egg crepe (like a French Egg McMuffin!) for dinner, and a nutella crepe for dessert that I made myself. Fantastique.  After dinner, I met up with Paul, my exchange student  friend from Nancy.  Paul and I last saw each other four years ago during the Moravian Academy French Exchange!  Time flies.  He was visiting his cousin in Paris during his vacation.  It was great to catch up!  I remember thinking during my stay at Paul's house in Nancy (which is in Lorraine) that I needed to come back to France and spend more time here.  And I did!  

Paul et moi

Today, after my lecture on Louis XIV, it was time to head over to my internship at La Cuisine Paris.  After schmoozing with clients, we did a test run of the new sweets tour La Cuisine is working on.  The tour will include several stops at various boulangeries, patisseries, and chocolatiers in the Marais.  At the end of the tour, everyone will sample the treats bought along the way.  I won't include all the stops here, you'll just have to take the tour when you're Paris.....

 Praulines, a sweet bread with sugar coated almonds.

Translation: I'm leaving you.
If you have to say it, at least say it with chocolate!

 Sorry about the glare on this picture....but I don't think I'll type out what the chocolate says on the bottom, I'm trying to keep my blog PG's less classy than "love me".

Would anyone like a massive champagne bottle made out of chocolate?  Only 185 euro!

If the shoe fits...

YUM favorite.

So I'm just loving life, living the dream......


Monday, February 20, 2012

Picnic in Luxembourg Gardens

Salut mes amis!
Today was a pretty relaxing day, just one writing workshop class, an internship interview(no technical difficulties this time, thank goodness) and a picnic in le Jardin de Luxembourg.  The picnic was certainly the highlight of my day.  I met up with some friends and we grabbed some sandwiches and eclairs for lunch in the park.  It was lovely to take advantage of the nice weather!  Afterward, we tossed a Frisbee around, which earned many funny looks from the Parisians.  Looks like we blew our cover again, Parisians don't play Frisbee.  Ah well. We had fun despite all the wierd looks!

Here is a funny "meme" that I found on facebook the other day.  These comics are really popular, and someone finally made one for studying in Paris....

The metro can be that crowded during rush hour.  You just need to be aggressive and get in there and shout "PARDON!"  Sometimes I just wait for the next train....


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Rolling in Rouen

What a busy and fantastic weekend!
I spent all of Friday at La Cuisine researching specialty food stores.  Pas Mal!  I'm creating a handout/guide on the stores La Cuisine visits during its Foodie Walk tours and the Le Sucre tours.  Each tour talks about the different specialty goods that are unique to France (think baguettes, foie gras, and special pastries).  Yum!  It was an interesting day.  The only problem is that there was a baguette class going on as I was working, so the whole building smelled like fresh baked French bread.  It smelled fantastic!  I don't think I will get used to it, the savory smell will always make my mouth water. 

Yesterday the JYF program had a day trip to the city of Rouen.  It is only about two hours northwest of Paris in the reigon of Normandy.  Voila le carte....merci to Google!
Driving into the city, I was a little bit skeptical.  It was a little industrial looking, but I reminded myself that Roen was suffered a lot of damage during WWII and many buildings were destroyed.  Luckily, the old city and Cathedral of Notre Dame (there are Notre Dames EVERYWEHRE in France) was not damaged too badly.  The old part of the city was everyone I hoped it would be.  We started our tour at the Notre Dame cathedral...

 And this is only the side entrance....

 And here is the front!  The church is undergoing renovations and cleaning, hence all the scaffolding.

Tower on the right hand side.  Monet painted this church about 30 times, each at different times of day and in different weather.  A lot of the paintings are in the Musee d'Orsay, but some are here in Rouen in the Musee des Beaux-Arts, which we will get to later....

 I've been inside a lot of Gothic churches now, but they never cease to amaze me.

Some of the stained glass is being restored.  Before D-Day, Rouen was bombed to weaken the German defences, and some of the windows were destroyed or damaged.

 Tomb of Richard the Lionhearted
However, only his heart is here, not his entire body.  Richard was a King of England, but he was also a Duke of Normandy.

 Statues of Saints that originally decorated the facade of the church.

Decoration depicting the death of John the Baptist

 Streets of old Rouen

 Half timbered buildings.  This one is the oldest in Rouen, built in the 1400s!

Sweet Motorcycle (shout out to Dad and Greg)

 The Terrible Child Restaurant and Wine Bar
What a great name!

 Plague Cemetery
When 2/3 of a population dies from the black death, you need a place to put all of them.  Bodies were dumped into a mass grave and liquid lime sped up the decomposition.  Later the bones were re stacked into the upper levels of the buildings.  Now the buildings house an art school. 

Macabre decorations...skulls, coffins, ribs, scythes...

 Rouen's Palais de Justice

 Le Gros Horloge
The big clock.  Super creative name.

It only has an hour hand (complete with a golden sheep to represent the wool industry that made the town wealthy back in the day).  Minutes were not important!

 Joan of Arc Church. Very modern outside, Renaissance stained glass inside!

 This is where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. 

Statue of St. Joan
Somehow I don't think looked as calm during her burning...

After lunch (we had Italian food, everyone was missing pizza...) we went to the Musee des Beaux-Arts.  The museum had a great mix of Renaissance paintings, Romantic style paintings, and Impressionist paintings.  Here are some of my favorites.

 La Vierge entre les Vierges
The virgin (Mary that is) among Virgins (mostly saints)

 A painting by Carravagio, featuring Jesus.  Most of the art was religious.

St. Joan of Arc

Monet's painting of the Cathedral in Rouen on a foggy day.

Most of my pictures are of buildings, or me in front of buildings.  Here is proof that I have friends!

This band was playing outside the cathedral.  They were really good!  I also enjoyed their outfits.

Un Chocolat Caramel Tarte.  Perfect treat to end my visit!

All in all, it was a great trip.  It's nice to leave Paris, but it's nice to come back too!  After our trip we continued our international cuisine with dinner at an Indian restaurant, which was delicious.  I love French food, but it was nice to change it up a bit.