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Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain
I recently earned my Masters in History at NWMSU and am now working as a language assistant in a Spanish elementary school.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Parisian Splendour: Part Un

Last weekend I flew to Paris and met up with my friend Michelle and her husband, Nicolas, who live in the city. I worked with Michelle at the Dari-B some years ago. Nicolas was born not far outside Paris and met Michelle on a vacation in Florida. They showed me around the city and I had a great time, learning and finding things I wouldn't have had they not been my guides. When my plane arrived on Friday afternoon at Charles de Gaulle Airport, I took a train into the center of the city. The price was quite a shock, as a typical one-way train ticket into Madrid costs a little over two euros. Here, it was around €8.50. This is just an example of Paris' role as one of the most expensive cities in Europe.

I met Michelle in the city and we went on a walking tour before we met up with Nicolas for dinner. The first place we came across was Les Invalides, the former military hospital and chapel which now houses museums of French military history:
Les Invalides was commissioned by Louis XIV, known as the Sun King for his authoritarian rule and the manner in which his lavish court revolved around him, in 1670. The complex and the chapel were completed in 1679. The hospital was at its busiest during Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte's wars of conquest. The chapel today serves as a resting place for many members of the French military, and directly beneath the dome's spire is the tomb of Napoleon. Here is a photo looking out from the enclosure of Les Invalides onto Paris. The glass building on the left is the Grand Palais, an exhibition center built for the 1900 Paris Exhibition:

After this we walked toward the restaurant and came across a gothic church:

and this strange statue:

We then arrived at the restaurant, Polidor, where we met Nicolas. They had told me this was a traditional Parisian restaurant that was very "old Paris." When we arrived, the restaurant had not opened yet, so we went into its adjacent business, run by the same family, a wine cellar which specialized in collector's wine. Many of the bottles were old and sat high on shelves, covered in dust. When seven o' clock arrived, the restaurant opened and we went in. Michelle and Nicolas both advised we arrive early as it normally fills up fast. Here is a picture of the wine shop and the restaurant, the entrance to which is through a door on the far right:
The restaurant looked as though it had not changed its decor since the early 1900s. Mirrors in gilded frames lined the walls and the same menu they had been serving for decades was posted on one of the walls alongside the newer menu. I decided to go for the old menu which consisted of more traditional French food. For my first course I had foie gras:

It was very rich and buttery, and best spread upon the toasted bread that accompanied it. My next course was veal in a very thick and buttery (you can use that word to describe almost all French food) sauce:
For dessert I had sorbet in three flavors. The food was wonderful, served in small amounts, but very filling.

After dinner we walked along the River Seine. I took some pictures of the buildings at night:

We also saw Notre Dame de Paris from across the river:

I'll write more about the cathedral in my next post.

We then went to Shakespeare and Company, the succussor to the original English-language bookstore of the same name which was run by Sylvia Beach from 1919 until the Second World War. The original store was often frequented by writers such as Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James Joyce. The new store was opened in the 1950s and hires young writers to work in the store. The store is crammed full of books of every genre and features and upstairs reading room which resembles a dusty attic with chairs and pillows. This is a picture I took of the shop the following night:

1 comment:

  1. Hi Eric,
    Looks like you had a lot of fun and the buildings are amazing. Be sure to check your email and write me back.