I came back from a two-day trip to Bordeaux and St. Emilion. We caught a 6:41AM train from Paris to Bordeaux on Saturday morning and took a bus on Sunday morning to St. Emilion. A day in each place was perfect, if not a bit short. But this mini-escape from my faster-paced life in Paris was the perfect retreat pre-finals.
Since I apparently decided to be a paparazzi, I’ve split the posts into two: one for sights and one for tastes. Enjoy the photos and definitely plan a trip to French wine country if you ever get the chance. It’s one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever visit!
The other day, my friend was super excited to share something with me: “Did you know that the last two digits in the Paris zip codes is the arrondissement?!” I laughed; of course I knew! That’s HOW I get around in Paris! But apparently, this was newfound information for many other of my friends.
As funny as I thought it was, I realized that there were probably many other things about geography in Paris I didn’t know about. I came home and did a little research. For anyone who has never had to fend for themselves in Paris, here are some basic/ interesting facts about the City of Light:
My architecture class is always surprising me. I had been to Invalides with some friends, but when I revisited with my class, it took on a totally different meaning. For example, I embarrassingly had no idea that Napoleon’s tomb was the Église Saint-Louis connected to the war museum.
The chapel was referred to by my professor as the most baroque building in Paris. Paris isn’t known for it’s extravagantly decorated buildings, and this building definitely strays from the pack. It’s gilding, marble, and detail all prove that it’s baroque.
It’s the home to Napoleon’s tomb, a large wooden structure in a crater in the middle of its floor. It’s a huge tomb, which is pretty funny when thinking about Napoleon’s notoriously petit frame and the fact that he was cremated.
Rumor has it, Napoleon requested that his tomb was placed lower than at the level of the spectators to ensure that people would always be bowing down to look at him.
Interestingly, when Adolph Hitler came to Paris, he wanted to see the tomb of a man he so admired. He brought a mirror so that he could see the tomb without having to bow. However, he positioned the mirror in a way that caused his hat to fall off, consequently making him picking it up and “bowing.”
Inundated with history, this chapel is a must see in Paris.
That was my day this past Friday. Though we only made it to 3 of the floors at the Salon d’Agriculture, it was well worth the exhausting experience.
The Salon d’Agriculture is a major event in Paris; people from all around the country of France flock to the Parc d’Exposition in the 15ème to view the agricultural fair. France has historically been – and still is to this day – a country centered around its agriculture. Each region specializes in certain products or style of cultivating them. For example, chèvre from the Loire Valley is much different than chèvre from Auvergne.
With samples at almost every booth and lots of opportunities to purchase fresh food, the Salon was a great opportunity to view how important food really is to the French people. Yes, Paris is famous for its restaurants, chefs, and its classics. But to many French people, food is a means of living. They pride themselves on their products and promise and deliver perfection every time.
It’s been quite the week. I had a huge midterm Thursday in my Paris Through Its Architecture class that (cross my fingers!) might have gone OK. Thank goodness, studying for my architecture class seemed like more of a treat than a chore. I’ve always loved history but have found that there’s a missing link in my brain when it comes to chronological order, treaties, wars, conflicts…….zzzzzzzzz.
That’s why this class has worked out so perfectly; by focusing on one aspect, like architectural developments, studying this history of Paris has been so interesting and applicable to my time here. I love looking around and seeing acanthus leaves on corinthian columns or being able to explain the history of St. Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris, to fellow Americans.
It’s moments like these where I feel like I’ve crossed into being a grown up. Wanting to do my homework? Enjoying my studying? (Similarly, I just had a conversation with my mom about wearing the hat, scarf and gloves I never wanted to wear when I was younger for fear of looking stupid, but now cling onto for dear life in the cold! Thanks Mom and Valerie for always making me bundle up!) For now, my excuse for my change in attitude will be the same excuse I’ve been using for the past two months: the Paris air has changed me.
Here’s a selection of some of my favorite places in Paris. It was hard to narrow it down, but maybe you’ll see why I chose these. Happy Friday!
We had a jungle gym in the backyard of my house for most of my childhood. There were swings, a slide, this egg-shaped punching bag thing whose purpose we never really knew. Whenever we’d play with my brother, it was a pirate ship with a lookout. With my sister, more often than not it was a castle, and we were princesses being held captive.
I came to Paris with the intention of getting the opportunity to travel to places I’ve never been. Prague, Berlin, and Bologna are high on my list. But when I got here, I realized how much there really is available to me in my own “backyard.” I’ve booked a trip through my university to go to Bordeaux and St. Emilion in late April and am SO excited. But until then, I’m making a list of places in France that won’t break the bank, will take me away from Paris for only a day, and give me the opportunity to relive my childhood adventures and pretend I’m a princess in a French chateau.
Here are a couple of pictures from a trip last weekend to Fontainebleau. Hopefully, I’ll make it to more chateaux, historical villages, and food capitals soon!
French restaurants may be difficult to navigate; there are bistros, brasseries, cafés, etc. In Paris, you want to steer clear from anything that’s not French; don’t order pasta at a café unless you want soggy, mushy noodles. Don’t order a burger unless you’re at a pub. Instead, pick one of the suggestions below. They are French classics that almost every restaurant will offer. Embrace the cheese coated and egg-topped dishes while you can. Even in the most random of cafés, you could eat some of the best roasted chicken and frites of your life. Trust me, it’s happened.
Two years ago today, I was in France absorbing a study abroad experience. Every night was something new: fondue, Raclette (melted cheese over things like boiled potatoes), Tarte Tatin, and of course, crêpes. Whether savory or sweet, I am always in the mood for a crêpe. My favorites include cheese with ham or banana with Nutella. But, there is nothing more comforting than a plain crêpe with butter, sugar, and lemon juice. Here is my favorite recipe for crêpes, with some pictures from my trip just 2 years ago.