Monday, 11 July 2011

Paris, Partie I

Blog posts for 8-10 July 2011

La Grande Roue


Not that it's a revelation by any means, Paris is one of my favourite cities in the world, and it is here that the group has reached its third destination of seven, leaving behind central France and the western influence of Celtic and English origins. Arriving just in time for lunch, we divided into smaller groups to explore the immediate area of Le Marais, our regional home base while in Paris. I went to a boulangerie and got a tart with ham and chèvre and a pain au chocolat (I write in retrospect that I was never able to visit the boulangerie a former classmate and I dubbed as the best in all of Paris for what should be a buttery and flaky staple), both of which proved to be rather difficult to eat on the go.

After everyone caught up on laundry, we made our way to an Italian restaurant for dinner; in sum, the combination of pasta and cheese is difficult to mess up (indeed, the portion of lasagna above was hearty and filling), while very few can seem to pull together a fruit salad I enjoy (this restaurant not being one of them). Following dinner, we took the students to the Jardin des Tuileries where the French and visitors alike enjoyed the night time air throughout a rather elaborate fair, complete with crêpes, granita, and one of our students' favourites, barbe à papa (cotton candy).


From the châteaux of the Loire Valley and the rural maritime life of Brittany, the group has firmly been situated in Paris, the city of lights and a haven for those who loves the musées. Following a morning at the Musée d'Orsay, we made our way to Montmartre, a region fit for artists, tourists, and pilgrims alike. We ate lunch in small groups and it was in a small restaurant tucked away amongst others that I enjoyed my first macarons, which are not to be confused with macaroons (two o's). After lunch, we all made our way up the stairs of the Sacré-Cœur Basillica's bell tower. 

The introduction to the Métro solidly underway, we traveled to one of my most comfortable and knowledgeable areas of Paris, the Arc de Triomphe, which is located between the Champs-Élysées and the street I lived on two years ago, the Avenue de la Grande Armée. After taking in more Parisian high sights, we eventually made our way back to the Marais and ate dinner nearby at the Café Louis Philippe, the site of our second food challenge: foie gras (accompanied with jelly) and escargot. In the end, ten students moved on.

As for my main course, I enjoyed a veal dish with wild rice pilaf and sautéed vegetables.

And as would continue to be the case throughout our voyage, we ended our evening eatery at Berthillon for ice cream. I ended up getting dark chocolate (in the cone) and rhum raisin which might as well have just been called "rum ice cream." To conclude our day, we got aboard a boat tour of Paris via Pont Neuf.

SUNDAY, 10/7

This morning, we began the day at the Musée de Louvre before heading by metro to St-Michel and the Latin Quarter for lunch in small groups. Taking a departure from more traditional French fare, I went to a Japanese bistro for my first taste of sushi (salmon) alongside beef and cheese skewers, and a cool can of Orangina, before going to a boulangerie for a doughnut filled with a cream which I will go out on a limb and claim tastes better than Nutella.

In the evening, I went to Mass at the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris, just minutes from our residency, before enjoying a crêpe at the base of the Eiffel Tower and meeting up with the rest of the group for an evening sojourn to the summit.

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