Vues de Paris
Oh Paris, Paris, Paris! Choosing just one place to start describing this city is hard because there are too many monuments, buildings, museums, and cafés that we could talk about. Although seeing and exploring each place of Paris was amazing, there was nothing like seeing the whole city from the top of places such as Montmartre. Seeing all the beauty of Paris at once was breathtaking and was one of the highlights of our excursion. Neither the time of the day nor the weather stopped us from enjoying the view of the city.
Overlooking Paris from the top of Montmartre-Sacré Coeur
Les jardins et les parcs
The beautiful city of Paris is home to some of the most amazing gardens in Europe. During our week in the city, many of us were fortunate enough to be able to visit a few of the many incredible gardens the city has to offer which include le Jardin du Luxembourg, le Marais and le Jardin des Tuileries.
Le Jardin du Luxembourg is one of the largest in the city centre, covering 23 hectares, and it is home to over a hundred statues, monuments, and fountains, which are all scattered evenly throughout the garden.
Lessi and Cate horsing around, and some immaculately pruned trees, both in the Luxembourg Gardens
Don’t be fooled! This isn’t a scene out of Stewart Little! This is the Palais du Luxembourg where children frequently come to sail boats in its fountain.
Le Marais is an aristocratic district of Paris, known for its well preserved buildings which contain both historic and architectural importance. Within Le Marais there lies La Place des Vosges, a square within the city that holds a commemorative statue of Louis XIII. Situated along the corridors of the Place des Vosges are small art galleries that the group enjoyed exploring.
These uniform red brick buildings line the perimeters of Place des Vosges. The square is the perfect place for eating lunch, reading a good book, or people watching!
Le Jardin des Tuileries is located at the front of the Louvre and stretches to the centre of the city at Place de la Concorde. Also attached to this park is the Musée de l’Orangerie where many of Monet’s immense water lily paintings reside, as well as the works of several other famous impressionists.
The expansiveness of Le Jardin des Tuileries
Versailles: la grandeur de Louis XIV
On Tuesday morning we took a short train ride outside the city to the Château de Versailles. Upon arrival, we were struck with the immense beauty of the palace that was surrounded by a magnificent golden gate. Once inside, we got to explore the elaborately decorated rooms that were once home to Louis XIV and many other important figures in French history. The château was built in the 17th century and contains over 2,300 rooms, one of the most remarkable being The Hall of Mirrors.
Molly in all of her regalness in the Hall of Mirrors, Château de Versailles
After we had explored the palace we headed downtown for a delicious lunch at an Italian restaurant. After ordering, our waiter complimented our French and expressed his love for our home away from home, Bordeaux! Once we had warmed up and enjoyed some good food we headed back to wander around the famous Jardins de Versailles. This wasn’t an average backyard garden by any means. Stretching over 800 hectares this garden contained meticulously shaped bushes, flowers and trees. In addition, it incorporated beautiful sculptures, fountains and ponds with trails that could leave you exploring for hours!
Macalah, Julia, and Lessi (our freshman crew) in front of Le Château de Versailles, and les jardins.
La cuisine parisienne
Many of us have been taking French classes since elementary and middle school, and therefore we were eager to finally see the monuments and sites that we have learned about countless times in our classes growing up, but had never seen face to face! However, since coming to Bordeaux and learning about how the French culture is deeply rooted in gastronomy, we also made sure that we ate well while we were in Paris. Aside from the always popular street crepes, croque monsieurs, and macarons, we found ourselves at three wonderful group dinners over the course of the week where we all tried some new dishes and practiced the art of conversation- something the Parisiens seem to be experts at!
Our first dinner of the week occured at Le Procope, the oldest café in Paris, founded in 1686 and located in the 6th arrondissement. (Side note: an arrondissement is just a fancy French word that indicates a district within the city. There are 20 of them in Paris and we found ourselves frequently trying to see who was the best oriented with the map of the city. I think we would all unanimously agree that Lessi was our champion navigator.) At Le Procope we enjoyed an entrée of un oeuf poché avec une sauce aux champignons et parmesan, Coq au vin for our main dish, and une tarte citron for dessert. And, of course, wine to accompany our dinner because it wouldn’t be dinner in France without some good wine and some good bread.
Group shot at Le Procope, and l’oeuf poché avec une sauce aux champignons et parmesan.
Coq au vin, and une tarte au citron, both from dinner at Le Procope
Our second dinner of the week was pretty relaxed. After walking around in the cold Parisian air all day and seeing a couple of plays, some warm Italian food really hit the spot. While we clearly did not eat French food this night, this meal turned out to be many people’s favorite. We had a great time together and it made us look forward to our last group meal in Montmartre towards the end of the week!
In Montmartre, we once again escaped the cold and windy streets of Paris into a restaurant called La Bonne Franquette just a short walk away from Sacré Coeur. Moms and Dads out there will be happy to know that we all got in our veggies with a nice salad at the start of our meal. While most of us ate a salmon dish for our main course, the restaurant was very accomodating to our vegetarian friends and everyone headed into dessert quite content. However, dessert got some mixed reviews from our group. Some enjoyed the crème de marrons avec crème fraîche that we were served, while others were either not a fan of the dish at all or were simply downright confused as to what they were eating! Oh well, even in France not every dish can be a homerun!
Group dinner at La Bonne Franquette (left) and le crème de marrons avec crème fraîche (right) that left our group bewildered
Stay tuned for Paris Part II, Coming Soon!
-Lessi, Cate, Sebastien, Sarah, Macalah, Charlton, and Azlyne