Friday, August 15, 2008

Le dernier jour avec BU

Friday, 11 July

First thing in the morning, I had my final exam for my class. The exam was pretty straight-forward, just like the midterm was. Lionel, my fabulous professor, wasn't there, as he was already on vacation with his daughter in the south of France. I'm pretty sure the whole class missed him. After the exam, I walked across the 7e, passing through the champ de Mars, where I saw this :



The trees in Paris (as well as surrounding areas - I noticed this in Chartres also), when they are in important, monumental sites, are all uniformly square. It really makes the perspective they create that much more powerful. While they might have you believe that the trees just grow this way, I finally saw someone trimming them - just as you would a topiary.

After passing through the champ, I made my way to another restaurant recommended by my patisserie book - les deux abeilles. The decor felt like a new England beach house - worn wood floors, white walls... My table was right under a potted tree. Very calming and refreshing :



I ordered a flan au confit de tomates :



The texture of the flan was incredible - so light and creamy. For dessert, I had a clafoutis aux peches :



Unfortunately, the texture on this one was not as spectacular - I think they must have had tiny pieces of nuts throughout the clafoutis, because it wasn't entirely smooth, which is unusual for a clafoutis.

After my meal, I made my way along the Seine and then across the pont Alexandre III :



As you might guess from the date on the seal, this bridge was constructed for the 1900 world exhibition in Paris. It goes directly to the Grand and Petit Palais, the major exhibition halls for the fair. The bridge is regal, and just stunning:



And here is the Grand Palais:



It's huge curved glass roof can be spotted from all over the city and along the Seine.

Directly across the street from the Grand Palais is the Petit Palais, my destination :



I had seen this ad in the metro, and it caught my attention, so I decided to check it out. My fabulous "étudiante de l'histoire de l'art" card got me in for free, just like it did at every art museum in the city - such a wonderful tool! It's a really nice exhibition; I didn't know much about flamenco going in, but they had some incredible paintings by Manet, Courbet, Picasso, and many, many others, as well as videos - including 13 seconds taken by Thomas Edison, as well as longer, later videos exemplifying the dance.

I didn't realize going in what a stunning building the Petit Palais is :



That is an exhibition hall just off the main entrance. The flamenco exhibition was happening on the other side of the museum, and due to some maintenance work that was being completed, you had to walk around an outdoor courtyard to get there :







There was a little café just to the side of the courtyard, and if I hadn't just eaten lunch it would have been a wonderful place to get lunch and relax for a while, looking at the gorgeous juxtaposition of nature and architecture.

The Petit Palais also houses an interesting collection of art, ranging from pieces prepared to be exposed for the 1900 exposition to a series of early Christian icons and ancient Greek and Roman pieces - very eclectic. It was a beautiful museum I would certainly visit again on a another trip to Paris.

Leaving the museum, here is another view of the pont Alexandre III, across the Seine towards rive gauche and les Invalids (with the gold dome) with the petit Palais at my back :



I did not, however, cross the bridge again. Instead, I made my way over the Madeleine area, just up the street from the Place de la Concord. I had visited this area before - it is home to some of the fanciest gourmet traiteurs in Paris : the patisserie LaDurée, which I had visited a few days prior, and the world renowned Fauchon. I had visited the shop before and only browsed, seeing all of their fancy products. They actually have multiple shops around the Madeleine square, and the first I visited held their wine shop and their products in jars and boxes - chocolates, foie gras, olives, spices, even "beurre de cacahouettes" - so-called peanut butter (only 8E a jar...) This time, I visited the other store, which has more ready-to-eat products : a deli counter, a café and patisserie, and another counter just like a patisserie except that instead of selling sweets, they had savory versions of all of the classic pastries - salmon and pea eclairs, tartes covered in colorful and beautiful vegetables... Everything was perfect and lovely and so interesting because it wasn't just a dessert like usual. Unfortunately, with the workers standing right behind the counters, I didn't take any pictures. I did, however, buy an eclair... but I was just more boring and just got caramel :



The eclair is probably the most popular French pastry, selling more than any other pastry, but for me I think this is the only one I bought while in Paris. It was exquisite.

I made a quick stop home to relax for a few minutes and change before it was back across town for our au revoir dinner with the BU program at a restaurant right near the BU center. I had a salad of mozarella and tomatoes, a chicken dish which was served with potatoes and vegetables, and a slice of chocolate cake, all of which was very decidedly mediocre. I didn't bother to finish the cake. It was a pity that it was late enough that there weren't any patisseries open to get a proper dessert (I suppose my clafoutis and eclair would have to suffice...)

After dinner, we went over to the BU center for the final goodbyes, where my photograph of the café from A priori thé won the photo contest. Renee, the program director, gave a speech, which was somewhat eye-opening for me, but not in the way probably intended. She had also given a speech at the orientation, and her French sounded impeccable to me. When she spoke English, she had an accent, so I couldn't tell whether she was French or American. She told us she was from Rhode Island (so there is the accent, as well as the nationality) but that she was married to a Frenchman and had been living in the country for many years. At the last night, hearing her speak again, it was incredible to me to hear how prominent her American accent was when she spoke French. It was amazing to me how different it was to hear her after 8 weeks in the country!

It was strange to say goodbye to the people I had become so accustomed to seeing over the previous two months. I hope I will cross paths with many of them again soon.

After the BU goodbyes, I headed over to Killian's to drop off the digital photo frame I won for the photo contest, and then we headed to a friend's apartment and met up with a few of Killian's friends from school. We had planned to meet people at the champ de Mars, but when we arrived it began to rain, and as I had just missed the metro, my friend Rafael offered me a ride home which was UNBELIEVABLY KIND of him and for which I am incredibly grateful. I finally got to sleep around 3 or 3h30 AM... thus beginning my ridiculous lack of sleep over the course of the next three days.

I'm so close to finally reaching the end of these accounts!

Alors, j'espère, à très bientôt,

1 comment:

I need orange said...

The Petit Palais is really spectacular.

Wish I could have a bite of all these yummy things...........