Paris : La Ville Lumière

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!

On s’adapte!

-Lessi, Cate, Sebastien, Sarah, Macalah, Charlton, and Azlyne




The Perigord: Geography, Food, & Wine

Hey! This is blog Team 4: Zach, Tanner, and Emily.

It was a beautiful weekend in Southwestern France, where the sun decided to pop its head out for the long awaited day trip to the Perigord! We took a break from the hustle and bustle of city life and took to the countryside to enjoy fresh green grass and rolling hills. The Périgord is a region in Southwest France known for its rich history, wildlife, and cuisine. Humans have been preparing food there longer than anywhere else in France (due to prehistoric connections in the Périgord). Most importantly, it is the center of truffle production– our main reason for making the trip!

Le soleil!

We began our Saturday morning awaiting our chariot (office of tourism bus) to take us to the countryside. However, the wait was a little bit longer than we expected… Instead of becoming worried and upset our group said “On s’adapte!” and walked around shining Bordeaux enjoying the sun and a café until the new bus arrived; in no time we were on our way to the Périgord!

Cate and Emily with the beautiful countryside home– our restaurant for the day!

It was a quick change of scenery as we drove away from paved sidewalks into vast lands of green. After a smooth ride, we arrived at the Truffle farm where we were immediately greeted by the owner of the farm and home. We didn’t waste any time when it came to eating, and immediately sat down in their rustic countryside home for a meal that can only be described as “the best food I’ve ever eaten” (-Grace Caldwell). As any great chef does, he explained to us how each course was prepared and various facts about truffles or “les truffes!” The first course was a small piece of pain (bread) with a truffle infused spread.

No true French meal is complete without l’eau de vie, which in English translates to the water of life. However, in France l’eau de vie refers to the life necessity– alcohol, specifically wine. With our meal we sipped on a sweet white wine called a Rosette. In contrast, we were served a bottle of red– a 2011 Château de Lys.

A smooth red wine called Chateau de Lys

Next came a dish called “La Brouillade” or in layman’s terms– fancy scrambled eggs. In short, this dish is prepared by whisking an egg, putting it in a container with truffle and leaving it in the fridge for a week. After this delicious dish, we were served les pâtes (pasta) with sauce aux truffes overtop (truffle sauce). On deck was a lightly dressed salad and a signature french cheese plate. To finish the delicious meal, was a small dish of vanilla ice cream adorned with a truffle caramel sauce. The perfect way to end a truffle meal!

La brouillade

Shortly after we began digesting our five course lunch, we joined a group of eager and lively people from all over the world. We were welcomed warmly as the “university students from New York.” Although we were already truffle connoisseurs, we listened to the farmer teach more truffle facts. France, Spain, and Italy are main producers of the truffle, however it was made clear to us that France reigns supreme over the latter two. This may be so, but did you know that parts of the United States produces truffles as well? California, Oregon, and North Carolina are among the truffle producing states!

Emily smells fresh truffles

Though they use dogs here at Pechalifour, pigs are expert truffle sniffers too.

The most important and interesting point of his presentation was when describing how he finds the truffles on his land. There are three methods to truffle hunting: using a trained furry four legged friend, a pig, or the method of “tapping.” This entails using a stick to tap on the ground, if une mouche (a fly) flies away from the dirt, that spot is likely where a truffle is hiding. However, lucky for us the farm had a trained dog to spot out truffles and her name was Lino! Although young, Lino had a great sense of awareness for truffles and served the group well! The SLU group was active during the hunt. Abroaders Grace Wetzel and Fiona Johnson stepped up to the plate and dug up some truffles of all different sizes- with the speedy assistance of Lino of course!

Fiona rejoices, holding her truffle

Grace digs for her truffle, the biggest found by the group

Due to our slight bus dilemma, our trip was cut a little short. However, we saw and experienced everything to make our trip one we will never forget. The day was chalk full of laughs, beautiful weather, (most importantly) a dog, and a once in a lifetime experience. After a quick group photo in front of the picturesque countryside we scurried onto the bus to return to our beautiful Bordeaux with full stomachs and happy hearts. Thank you for reading and following along!

Nous voici!

On s’adapte!

P.S. shout out to Grace Caldwell our student intern for researching and planning this awesome day trip!

Emily, Tanner, and Zach