Tuesday, July 7, 2015

My Trip to France 2015, part 2

Day 3:

Dear Readers:

Before I get on with the main topic of the day, would you please indulge me while I randomly
share with you the photos of my meals throughout my visit?  I do not usually take pictures of my food and share them via social media, but I was in France and I was thrilled to be eating the wonderful food I tasted.  Je vous remercie!


Daily breakfast (le petit déjeuner) at the Hôtel Excelsior was un croissant, un small pain, un café, un jus d'orange, et un yaourt.  Miam-miam!

Our time in Paris is a bit of a blur because we went from place to place.  We saw as much as we could in the short time we had.  We had already visited Sacré Coeur and the Arc de Triomphe.

Now, we were headed for a rendez-vous with La Joconde and a few creepy gargoyles.

Our meeting place as a big group was the Place de la République.  This is where hundreds of thousands of people rallied to protest the mindless killings at the Charlie Hebdo office back in January 2015.  There were vestiges of that rally still evident on the monument at this place.

Since we were such a big group, we were able to use the group entrance at the side of the Louvre, something I didn't know existed.  We didn't have an enormous amount of time to spend at the museum, but the kids and I hit the highlights.  They can always come back and spend more time when they are not pressed for time.

I really love the look of this Métro stop.

I know the glass pyramid designed by I.M. Pei was not well received when it first opened in 1989, but I love it!

What the Louvre looked like in the Middle Ages:

And now for some of my favorite works of art at the Louvre.

Venus de Milo:

Winged Victory of Samothrace:

 Napoleon Crowning Himself Emperor Before the Pope:

Oath of the Horatii:

Sadly, I did not get a good shot of the Mona Lisa.  I had lost some of my kiddos for a bit in the enormous crowd and I was too busy looking for them to spend any quality time with her.  Oh well.  C'est la vie!  I've seen her before and something tells me she hasn't changed much since the last time I laid eyes on her.

La pyramide from another point of view:

Louvre selfie, sans selfie stick!  

After we saw these world famous works of art, and lots of others that aren't world famous, we were hungry and we sought sustenance.  Luckily, we found this gem of a café across the Seine.

Seeing as how Voltaire was one of my favorite writers while I was studying French in college, I thought this was a fine establishment to savor.  And as the sign says, all of their dishes are made on site and their vegetables are fresh.  Sounded good to us hungry travelers.  

After we finished our meal, I took a picture of the restaurant sign and realized there was also a sign on the building.  It says "Voltaire, born in Paris on November 21, 1694; died in this house on May 30, 1778."  I felt honored to have eaten here.  I'm kind of partial to enlightenment ideas.

 While walking back to the Louvre, we noticed the pedestrian Pont des Arts bridge, and decided to investigate.  This is the bridge known for its locks of love that weighed down the railing and caused the police to close it temporarily.  They took down the locks that were on the bridge, but there were some locks still attached to railings that overlooked the quai.

The railings have been replaced with plexiglass panels decorated by street artists.  The message on the panels below says, "Where are the locks?"

Back at the Louvre, I found a statue of Voltaire!  Incident #1 where I wished I had my SLR camera--my iPhone 6 takes great photos normally, but the zoom on it is sorely lacking.

Our next point of interest today was the Conciergerie.  We didn't actually tour it, but we got to meet with tour guides in this marvelous vaulted room, the hall of the guards.

From the Conciergerie, we walked near the Palais de Justice...

...to the Sainte-Chapelle.  This was built by King Louis IX, otherwise known as Saint Louis, to house his collection of Christ's Crown of Thorns.  It also has the most extensive collection of 13th century stained glass windows in the world.

Evidently, we were very lucky because in May of this year, a seven-year cleaning and restoration job was finished to commemorate King Louis' 800th birthday.  It was a cloudy day so the windows may not look as bright as they might have otherwise. However, I still feel fortunate to have seen this beautiful structure, which I had never visited before.

After the Sainte-Chapelle, we walked a little further along on the Île de la Cité and located this beauty, Notre Dame cathedral.

I always enjoy visiting Notre Dame.  The history, the Victor Hugo novel, the Disney movie.  They all fascinate me.

This is Kilomètre Zéro, located in front of Notre Dame.  It is from this spot that marks the center of Paris, and from which all distances to and from Paris are measured.  

This was the first time I have ever gotten to climb the tower of Notre Dame.  I don't know why I haven't done it before, but I highly recommend it!  The gargoyles don't seem so menacing up close.  

And I can now cross "I've been to a belfry" off my to do list!

After our adventure on the Île de la Cité, it was time for the welcome dinner that the group I traveled with, ISE, provides for the students and teachers.  ISE is a great student travel group based in Minnesota.  Their trips stand out because of a commitment to use the target language on the tours, as well as a homestay that I think is invaluable to students.   Check them out here:  Intercultural Student Experiences (ISE)

On our way to the restaurant, we passed la Mairie de Paris, or city hall.

Our restaurant was called Flam's, and it specializes in Flammekueche.  I have been a French teacher for two decades, but I was woefully unaware of what a Flammekueche is.  It is obvious I have never spent any time in Alsace because people who have definitely are familiar with this culinary marvel.  It is also called tarte flambée, and it is rectangular bread dough rolled thinly and topped with crème fraîche, and a variety of other toppings.  I liken it to pizza, but I'm sure any Alsatian would be angry if they heard me say that.  The tartes were absolutely delicious and we stuffed ourselves with them. If I had known we would have so many different varieties, I would have taken a picture of all of them, and we must have had 10 different types.  Here is a picture of the restaurant:

And here is a link to Flam's website.


And to top off our evening, I took a picture of the ceiling because even the restaurant we ate in had character!  We were such a large group, they accommodated us in the cellar of the restaurant.

I am loving France at this point in the trip, even though I waddled home after stuffing myself with Flammekueche!

Time for bed now, kiddies.  Allez, au lit!  We'll have a big day tomorrow at the Catacombs, Les Invalides, and riding a Bateau Mouche along the Seine.

Thank you for reading this post!  Merci!  





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