Thursday, June 13, 2013

Europe 2013: Second Stop, Paris...

Before I get started I have to give Alex credit for the picture above.  While we were wandering around the Louvre our first day in Paris Alex decided to start messing with the settings on our camera.  Some of the pictures (like the one above) turned out really nicely.  Others were a little more whacky.  But since this photo turned out to be one of my favorites from Paris I'm considering it a photography win.  Sadly we have had our camera for almost 2 years now and this is the first time we have really experimented with some of the settings.  Oops.

Ok, now back to Paris.  Given the number of pictures we took and the amount of amazing food we ate, I am going to have to split Paris into several posts.  This post is going to be about the city in general and will touch briefly on the food, but won't go into a lot of detail about the individual meals we had.  I'll try to post about some of the restaurants we visited in Paris later this week (or over the weekend).  I have TONS of food pictures (what else is new), so that post should be a fun one.  Then again, as far as I am concerned, any post about Paris is a fun one.

More after the jump!

Panoramic view of the Seine from the Pont des Arts.

My favorite things about Paris:
  1.  The food - I know I said that I wasn't going to go into detail about our individual meals, but I couldn't talk about Paris and not mention how fabulous the food is.  I could easily eat my body weight in French cheese and pastries.  I decided to stay in the 6th Arrondissement this time (we were in Saint-Germain-des-Pres) and we just happened to be within walking distance of several famous pastry and chocolate shops - Laduree, Pierre Herme, Patrick Roger, Christian Constant and Jean Paul Hevin...  We were also close to one of the locations of Poilane.  Unfortunately we were a fairly long walk away from Berthillon, but we went there too.  All total we had macarons from Pierre Herme, a rose meringue with fresh raspberries and some sort of pastry cream inside from Laduree called an "ispahan" (here's a picture of the same pastry at Pierre Herme), chocolates from Patrick Roger, punitions from Poilane (as well as tartines), and ice cream from Berthillon.  If I had my way, we would have eaten even more sweets, but after a certain point Alex cut me off (and rightly so).  Did I mention that we also had dessert at almost every single meal while in Paris?  It was awesomely gluttonous.  I guess I should have called this category "The dessert", huh?  But really I loved everything, from the desserts to the sandwiches jambon fromage (aka ham and cheese sandwiches) to the pate and foie gras that we gorged ourselves on to the bread basket and jam we were served every morning at our hotel.  Yum. 
  2. The wine - When I studied abroad in Montpellier I wasn't exactly a wine connoisseur.  Actually, to be perfectly honest, I hated wine until about the age of 21.  Only then did I start to like Reisling (the sweeter the better).  I promise that my taste in wine has improved since then, but it was a rocky start.  I would occasionally take a sip of a glass of wine when I was in France but it just wasn't my thing.  I'm still not a connoisseur, but I had a blast trying different varieties of wine by the bottle, carafe and glass while we were in France.
  3.  The art - The Musee d'Orsay is perhaps my favorite museum in the entire world.  The building (an old train station) is wonderful and the collection is even better.  The museum is well-known for its impressionist art, but it has a number of other famous paintings, including a large collection of Van Goghs (Starry Night and his self-portrait to name just two) and Whistler's Mother, and sculptures by Rodin, Degas and Gauguin (among others).  Of course my favorites are the paintings by Renoir, the Monet and the Degas.  I also appreciate that the museum is the perfect size to conquer in just an hour or two.  Museums like the Louvre and the Met here in NYC are amazing, but I have a limited attention span for art.  By the end of my second hour in a museum I am tapped out and listlessly wandering from room-to-room.  Another artist I love is Chagall and the Musee du Luxembourg just happened to have a Chagall exhibition while we were in Paris.  There's something about Chagall's use of bold colors (I'm personally convinced that he has the best blues in all of art) and fantastical images that really appeals to me.  If we had another day or two I would have also visited the Louvre, but having been there several times already I just couldn't justify it on this visit.
  4. Paris itself - There really is no place like Paris.  The light is golden, the sunsets are spectacular, the parks are verdant and plentiful and the city itself is gorgeous...  It's just such an amazing city.  And once you add in the food, the wine and the museums it truly is hard to beat.  If I were an architecture buff or in any way religious I would be able to go on and on about the wonderful churches/cathedrals sprinkled across Paris.  Actually, my favorite church in the whole world, Sainte-Chapelle, is in Paris.  It's nowhere near as large and grand as Sacre Couer or Notre Dame and it's tucked away on the Ile de la Cite a block or two away from Notre Dame, but I would contend that Sainte-Chapelle, with it's stained glass windows and vaulted blue ceiling is by far the prettiest church I have ever seen.

Another view of the Louvre.
 Love locks on the Pont des Arts.  And no, Alex and I did not contribute our own lock (partially because that would have involved doing something that required forethought).

Hello there Eiffel Tower.

View of the Eiffel Tower at dusk across the Tuileries.

Graffiti in Montmartre.
What better way to spend a rainy morning in Paris than to wander through the Musee d'Orsay?  This view through one of the large clocks of the Seine was a nice bonus.  
Stained glass in Sainte-Chapelle.

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