Monthly Archives: July 2013

Paris A To Z: F is for…

F is for Fromage!

But of course! With a wonderfully well selected glass of wines, goes a hunk of stinking cheese, right?

Speaking from experience, the smellier the cheese, the more delicious the taste and more tactile the textures in taste and the more delicious it tasted when paired with the appropriate glass of wine. For me, I will be eating some fromage de chevre sur un baguette aujourdhui avec un cafe creme.

Oh, to talk about cheese in France…I am woefully unqualified, so here is a list resources to help you get better acquainted with a food so essentially French.

Kitchen Art via Etsy – GeraldineAdams

Kitchen Art French Cheeses home decor - Art Print 8x10 Typographic print Gourmet cheese lover food illustration

Fromage Fort recipe from the Smitten Kitchen

fromage fort

What cheese will you be eating today?

 

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Paris A to Z: E is for…

E is for the Eiffel Tower!

Could E really stand for anything else? Look at the beauty of this piece of architecture that was at one time reviled by all the artists in Paris. A committee of 300 (one member for each step) formed and sent a scathing letter of protest to the Minister of Works and Commissioner for the Exposition, and was published by the newspaper Le Temps. 

“We, writers, painters, sculptors, architects and passionate devotees of the hitherto untouched beauty of Paris, protest with all our strength, with all our indignation in the name of slighted French taste, against the erection…of this useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower … To bring our arguments home, imagine for a moment a giddy, ridiculous tower dominating Paris like a gigantic black smokestack, crushing under its barbaric bulk Notre Dame, the Tour Saint-Jacques, the Louvre, the Dome of les Invalides, the Arc de Triomphe, all of our humiliated monuments will disappear in this ghastly dream. And for twenty years…we shall see stretching like a blot of ink the hateful shadow of the hateful column of bolted sheet metal” 

 

Quick Facts

Location: Champs de Mars

Named After: Gustave Eiffel

Opened in 1889 at the entrance arc for the 1889 World’s Fair. It is now one of the world’s most recognizable icons, along with the Golden Gate Bridge, Big Ben and many others.

This is one of my favorite postcards of the Eiffel Tower. Can you imagine what life must have been like watching this tower being built over the course of 2 years? Its like seeing only the feet of the Statue of Liberty, or just her torso. Incomplete, amazing, and mystifying.

File:Construction of the Eiffel Tower.JPG

The tower has three levels for visitors. Tickets can be purchased to ascend, by staircase or by elevator, to the first and second levels. The walk from ground level to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the walk from the first to the second level. The third and highest level is accessible only by lift—stairs do exist but are usually closed to the public. The views from the second level are wonderful, albeit, the city looks ridiculously tiny. The view from the Arc de Triomphe gives a much more intimate view of the city, especially of the grand boulevards designed by Baron Haussmann. But there is something amazing about the Eiffel Tower. Our hotel was walking distance from the tower. Just walking around the city, you see glimpses of it poking above, beside or around different buildings. Its presence is so…serene and reliable. You may get lost in Paris, but wherever you are, the Eiffel Tower is right there watching over you.

Paris A to Z: D is for…

D is for Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas self portrait 1855.jpeg

One of the leading artistes of the Impressionist movement that started in France, Edgar Degas is best known for his artwork of the ballerinas.

The Impressionist movement is probably my favorite in art history.  Although I am particularly partial to Renoir, Degas is definitely in the running with his depictions of both the public and private lives of Parisians. I was lucky enough to see some of his originals at the Musee d’Orsay a few years ago. Impressionist art is really the only movement where you have to see the brush strokes in person to fully appreciate the work, the effort and the inspiration and vision that goes into creating these masterpieces.

Brief Bio:

Edgar Degas was born Hilaire-Germain-Edgar de Gas on July 19, 1834, in Paris, France.  He died Sept. 27, 1917 in Paris, France.

His work ranges from ballerinas on stage, to nudes bathing, to bronze statues. In the 1850’s, he took a break from his studies at the Ecole Des Beaux-Art in Paris to travel around Italy; painting, traveling and studying. In 1859 he returned to Paris, determined to make a name for himself. In 1862, he met fellow artist Edouard Manet at the Louvre, and the two who quickly hit it off were members of an avant-garde group of artistes. They met regularly the Café Guerbois along with: Renoir, Monet and Sisley to discuss the progression of art in the modern world and thus the beginning of the Impressionist movement began to take shape.

Source: Biography.com

In a Cafe (The Absinthe Drinker) 1875-1876 / Musee d’Orsay, Paris, France

Who is your favorite French artiste? What is your favorite French art movement?

Paris A to Z. C is for…

C is for Café.

The café is a hallmark of Parisienne daily life. Streets upon streets are lined with wicker chairs, facing the road, with tourists and locals alike, sipping their coffees, eating delicious pastries. At the cafe, it is highly encouraged to be a flaneur, and observe the world the people passing by. I enjoyed sipping my coffee, nibbling on a tart au pomme and watching the cars maneuver the streets in a frightfully lawless way. Watching a bus make a right turn onto a rather small street with busy cars was more entertaining that one would think. 

The cafe culture in France goes back centuries, and was were the intellectuals would meet to discuss philosophical topics of conversation. Where artists would showcase their work, and where the leaders of the French Revolution would meet to discuss their plans.

“The quintessential French cafe has seating indoors and out with small (usually round tables) and plenty of wooden paneling and red and black decor. However today’s modern Parisian cafés come in all shapes and sizes some decorated in chrome and stainless steel but most of them still stick to the traditional intimate interior and outdoor sidewalk seating.” (Cafe de Flore)

The basics to ordering coffee in France: 

Un café – A strong brewed espresso, served in a very small cup. (Definitely not the giant coffee cups we see in the US).

Un café allongé – An espresso in a normal size cup with hot water or milk added upon request.

Un crème – creamy French coffee, what the locals order while tourists request a cafe au lait.

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The A to Z Guide of Ordering Coffee In France 

BistroChic guide to Ordering coffee in France

 

 

Paris A to Z. B is for

B is for Bastille

I could have saved this for Bastille Day on July 14th, but then the alphabet would be out of order.

Le Bastille, is better known as the famous prison where in 1789 an angry mob stormed in to free the prisoners, discovering only seven people inside. Thus, Bastille Day is commemorated as part of Le Revolution Francaise during the reign of Louis and Marie Antoinette. It was later demolished and replaced with the Place de la Bastille in Paris today.

The Bastille was built as a stronghold in the 14th century as a response to a threat during the 100-year-war. It was later converted into a prison before being stormed and demolished. The Place de la Bastille (Bastille Square) was created in 1803, including a fountain in the shape of an elephant. Sadly, that was gone in 1847. The only monument that marks the place of the prison is the Colonne de Julliet, commemorating another revolution in 1830.

Colonne de Juillet (A View on Paris)

Where is it? Bordering the 4th, 11th and 12th arrondissements

Metro Lines: Bastille (M 1,5,8)

 

Paris A to Z: A is for

A is for les arrondissements.

Paris, has 20 neighborhoods, or districts known as Les arrondissements. When I went to Paris 2 years ago (feels like 2 decades ago), I stayed in the 6th arrondissement, on the Rue Cler. That is also where Julia Child spent many of her days in Paris, walking the same streets, shopping the same shops.

This mini guide can introduce you to each of the arrondissements unique personalities.

This mini guide provides more fun details of what you can find in each arrondissement.

This is my favorite shot of the Rue Cler, with a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower in the distant. We were right on the border of the 6th and 7th arrondissement, so it was a pleasant walking distance from our hotel.

photo