Samedi, 21 juin 2008
Eric was wonderful and told me I could take Saturday off of work, and I was certainly not about to turn him down! In the morning, I went for a run through the 11e towards the Cemetière de Père LaChaise, where there are a ton of famous people buried - popular tombs include those of Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Moliere, Edith Piaf, Chopin, and about a bazillion other people. Personally, I have no real desire to visit, but at least now I have been to the area. The bad part of the run was that the whole way there, as well as along the side of the cemetery, was all uphill, but that is better than if the second half had been the uphill part!
After my run, Catherine told me that the company she had had the previous evening had been very remiss in eating her dinner, and so I should eat the leftovers so they didn't go bad. Well, ok, if you insist! There was a chicken salad with couscous and greens and pine nuts, that came from the same magazine as the omelette wrap from the previous Tuesday, and was delicious. But more important than eating the salad was eating the strawberries and raspberries, which the company had hardly eaten and wouldn't keep. And there was fresh, thick cream to go with them! Délicieux. But then, that is hardly a surprise.
After lunch, I hurried across town to attend a BU sponsored event : a dégustation du vin - a wine tasting. It was held at the Musée du vin, in the 16e. We started with a tour of the museum, which is in a building that was built a few hundred years ago by digging into the rock of a hillside to create a cool space to house wine. After the tour, we tasted 5 wines : 2 white, and 3 red. I certainly know how to look like I know something about wine now, whether I can really smell that a certain wine emits grapefruit or vanilla or essence of toast may still be a little beyond me. Mostly they just smell like wine. And I can tell you that two red wines smell different from each other, but I can't really explain said difference. I don't suppose that is something you can really learn in an hour and a half. To go with our wine we had bread and cheese, and even if I am by no means an expert I certainly did learn a lot and the whole process was a lot of fun.
After the wine tasting, I visited the Musée Rodin with a few friends. I had been told by a few people that the museum was a must-see, during good weather especially as a lot of the works are held in the gardens surrounding the museum. Unfortunately, they were setting up for some event behind the museum, so most of the gardens were blocked off - but you could still see some of his most famous works, like le Penseur (the thinker). Unfortunately, my lack of sleep the night before, added to the wine, made me pretty tired, and I am sorry to say I did not take in much of the museum. Although, to be honest, I am not very familiar with Rodin and I wasn't especially excited to see his works, so I don't really feel I missed out. I must be a very remiss art history student, or something.
After the museum, we decided to visit a patisserie recommended in my guide that was nearby. It recommended the mille feuille :
and the barquette citron :
so I got both. It made other recommendations as well but really, 2 is as many pastries as I need at a time :)
The millefeuille was alright, but rather dry. The barquette was better. What I have learned about my taste in French pastries is that they do fruit desserts very well, but I'll stick with American versions of chocolate desserts (brownies, my cake, fudge...) and the specific pastries are not my favorite - perhaps because they are generally just layers of cream put in between wafers, essentially.
After getting the pastries, the friends I was with went to go get dinner together, and I stopped chez moi to cook my dinner. (I will say that I did leave the pastries for after dinner, and I am pretty sure I ate just the millefeuille that night and saved the barquette for the next day. I may be a fat kid, but I'm not thatttt bad!)
June 21 in Paris is a very special day. It is the longest day of the year, and to celebrate the beginning of summer, for at least the last 30 years or so June 21 has been known as fête de la musique. Throughout much of the day, there are concerts all over the city, in the streets and Places. But it really heats up in the evening and night, when dozens and dozens of groups and performers take to the streets. All of Paris comes out to experience it, too! The streets are filled with people, sometimes dancing, sometimes just enjoying. There is music for everyone - from a cappella and choral groups, which I saw in the Place des vosges, to techtonique, the favored music for des boîtes (nightclubs) to rock and the occasional bar playing the latest in hip hop. And it's all free! In a city where nothing is ever free, that's huge.
To start off my evening, I wandered through the 3e and eventually met up with the same friends I had been with earlier in the day at Pont Neuf, the bridge at the eastern end of the Ile de la Cité. I forgot my camera this evening, and I am SORRY that I did, because the sunset was spectacular. The play of light with the clouds over the Seine was just incredible; unfortunately, my imperfect memory will have to suffice. After the sun had set, we left to meet friends at Bastille, where there were a couple of Big concerts. Once we met up with these friends, they had an idea of where they wanted to go, so we took the metro to Pigalle, in Montmartre, which I must say, is quite a sight at night with its famous Moulin Rouge and ubiquitous sex shops. Shortly upon arriving, our Parisian guides (the intern for the BU program, who is friends with several of us, as well as her friend) realized they were entirely mistaken in their idea of where we were trying to go. Ironically, perhaps, the Americans had been aware of this during our metro commute to Pigalle, but tant pis. As we were there, we decided to wander around, and came to a large techtonique concert playing in the Place des Abbesses. We stayed there for maybe 20 minutes before it was another 4 metro lines to get to Oberkampf, which coincidentally is not only in the 11e, where I live, but the street we were on intersected with my street. Luckily this was indeed our intended location, although I am not entirely sure why. There were plenty of concerts in the street - jazz, rock, swing, techtonique... I stayed out with a large group until about 2, at which point, with my lack of sleep the night before and the fact that I had been on my feet for the last 5 hours or so, I needed to get to bed - which very luckily was only about a 5 minute walk away!
Dimanche, 22 June 2008
In the morning of course I went to the Marché de la Bastille. By now 2 of the workers at my favorite vendor know me by sight, and always ask how I'm doing. Not only did they give me extra nectarines and cherries after I had bought them, but he told me the price was 4,50 and when I tried to give him 5,50, he wouldn't take my coins and still gave me 1 E in return!
The very first night at dinner with my host family, I mentioned that I was an art history major and that my favorite period was the renaissance, so immediately Catherine and Jacques said we should go to the renaissance museum, and looked in their planners to see when we could go. Sunday the 22nd turned out to be pretty much the only day we could all go, so we made plans that first night that we kept this past Sunday. The museum is at Château d'Ecouen, in the village of Ecouen, which is just north of Paris. We were going to drive up, but Jacques had an appointment and ended up not being able to come with us so Catherine, Kendall, and I took the train. It was a short ride, certainly no more than a 1/2 hour. Unlike the ride to Chartres, which took us very much into the countryside to the southwest of Paris, going north we passed through several banlieux (suburb, but with rather a negative connotation) that are not especially affluent.
From the train station, it was a short walk (perhaps a km) to the museum. Much of the walk was through a pleasant woods, which reminded me of Michigan and reminded me of how I am looking forward to visiting Jen's cabin in August! Catherine had packed a picnic lunch, so we stopped at a clearing in the woods to eat. She made 3 kinds of sandwiches, all of which were rather French - cucumber with some kind of cheese spread, pâté with lettuce, and chèvre (goat cheese) with basil. The chèvre-basilic was definitely my favorite, especially as she had brought tomatoes to go along with them, which was a lovely combination. There were also nectarines. All very good (no surprise there).
Alors, enfin - after our short repose we continued our walk to the château :
France is testing out the idea of having free admission to museums by having a trial free period at some museums. Luckily, this national museum of the renaissance was one of these test museums so admission was free. Immediately after entering you enter the central courtyard :
Note the sculptures put in place here - these are definitely copies, and I am not clear if the originals were ever really here or not. They are Michaelangelo's Captives from the Tomb of Julius II of about 1513. The real statues are in the Louvre.
Inside now, the ceiling of the chapel :
The château itself is an excellent example of French renaissance architecture, and was built by some man who I think was a duke and who I know was named Anne. (I like to remember the important facts. Clearly the fact that a man was named Anne is a lot more important than whoever he actually was). There were also rooms set aside for the King and Queen when they would pass through.
While it is certainly no Versailles with all of the ceiling painting and marble halls, it is certainly sumptuous enough :
One of my favorite things I saw in the museum were the goblets made out of seashells, which I had never seen before :
The château is located on top of a hill, which I thought was obnoxious while I had to walk up, but once we made it up to the top, I understood - the château has a magnificent view over the entire valley below. As seen from an upper window in the château :
And again :
Another view from the window offered a sight that was somewhat different... :
Evidently, every Sunday, there is a presentation of a "window into the Renaissance" : there is dancing, and music, and I think later they had a joust. After going through the museum, we intended to go out to watch the spectacle, but it turned out to be 19 E - each! A little rich for our blood. As you can see there were plenty of spectators, so evidently there must have been plenty of people who found the price more reasonable...
Luckily, heading back to the train station was all down hill. After my run and the hours on my feet the night before, followed by the climb up the mountain to the château, my legs were tired!
The rest of the evening was spent working on my rapport du stage, which I must say is rather the bane of my existence, if you will permit me to be a tad dramatic. But at any rate, it is highly annoying, mostly because it is highly time consuming! And essentially for nul, as I am not actually doing my internship for credit - it won't count towards either of my majors, and I have more than enough credits to graduate, so it doesn't seem worth it to do the paperwork. BOO RAPPORT DU STAGE, is all I have to say about that. (Dad - hooray, beer?)
So that was a pretty full weekend... And I suppose, since I have Mondays off, it's not over yet! I, however, am for the night, as it is getting late and I need to get some sleep. I will however send out a quick word of good luck to everyone I know (or feel like I know) who is swimming at the Olympic trials this week!