This trip by my husband, two adult daughters and me was slightly over two weeks in Paris living in a flat where we could dream we were locals. We did a lot of eating and a lot of walking around.
by artslover on September 27, 2012
L’Arpege is one of Paris three Michelin starred restaurants. It is a bit unusual because the chef emphasizes vegetables, although he also serves meat.The restaurant is located in its own space near the Rodin Museum and Les Invalides. While there are starched white linen table clothes and bath towel sized linen napkins on the tables set with crystal and silver, the overall feel is not too formal nor up tight.The service is very French formal with each course delivered with serious politeness but the servers were friendly and helped some of us along with our French language struggles.We were able to order both tasting menus and a la carte at our table which not every restaurant will allow. The dishes themselves were stupendously good. Because of the emphasis on vegetables, the menu changes to reflect what is in season. The care in choosing the ingredients shows through. The most delicious thing I ate in two weeks in Paris, where the food is often beyond delicious, was a tomato salad. The fullness of the flavours was incredible. Dining at L’Arpege was an event. Our lunch took over four hours. Very expensive but so worth it.
Le Chateaubriand is one of Paris’ top restaurants and yet it is relatively casual not formal and stuffy like some of the other famous top dining spots. Like some other new restaurants in Paris, the chef was once working at a big famous restaurant but decided to go out on his own. In order to keep the standards high but manage a more reasonably priced menu and more modest location, the menu is limited. At Chateaubriand, it is very limited. You do not get a menu because you do not get to choose what you will eat, you get the menu set by the chef for that day. The servers will ask about allergies but otherwise do not alter the dishes. In our case, we told them one of us was allergic to clams but someone forgot to remove clams from one of the dishes. Those of us not allergic ate the clams so no big deal. But if you have a deathly food allergy, you might want to check the dishes carefully.Our meal was very creative and we tried some things we had never seen before like percebes, or gooseneck barnacles. Other dishes included things we recognized but had never eaten in quite the same way like the chicken with roasted corn silk which gave the dish a corn fragrance.It was an eye opening and mouth watering experience and at a very reasonable price.
We had been to the Louvre on a previous visit to Paris, but no one visit will allow you to see everything so we made a return visit.A good tip, go into the museum through the Caroussel entrance, not the entrance at the glass pyramid. There are far few people trying to enter. You can also buy tickets in advance which will also reduce waiting time.We skipped the Mona Lisa because that is where the biggest crowds are. Even avoiding that wait, we still managed to look at only a small fraction of what is on display in the three wings of the Louvre. Definitely pick up the maps of the Louvre and figure out what you want to see because there are so many of the world best works but you cannot see them all in one visit. The Denon wing is particularly good for Italian and French masters. Some of my favourites include the large format paintings by French masters David and Gericault, and the Italians, da Vinci, Titian and Caravaggio. The Ruebens room with its life of Marie de Medici is pretty awesome as well.
We had museum passes which we used at Hôtel des Invalides, Musée de L’Armée and Napoleon’s Tomb (129 rue de Grenelle Open: 10-6/6:30 Sun Cost: €9). If we had to pay, I would have thought Napoleon’s Tomb was a big disappointment but the Musée de L’Armée was incredible value. There was so much there and even though I’m not particularly interested in military history, it was nevertheless absorbing. Because there was so much to look at, we could not manage to see all or even most of the different historical periods, which start from pre-Roman times to the present. We focussed on the period from Louis XIV to Napoleon III. The displays gave detailed information about what happened and showed lots of artefacts, everything from uniforms, weapons, even various forms of transportation. The moving and sometimes interactive displays showing the progress of battles were spellbinding but took up a lot of time. A person interested in history could easily spend an entire day. The ticket also includes entry to the Musée des Plans-Reliefs (scale models of French 17th-century towns) and the Musée de l’Ordre de la Libération (relating to World War II) but we did not have time to visit. I might not have visited were it not for our museum passes but I am glad we went because if was very fascinating.
We took a Context Travel walking tour called Medieval Churches of Paris, which began with the oldest church of the city, the former monastery church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, with its mix of Romanesque and early Gothic styles. It ended at the most recent medieval church, Saint-Etienne-du-Mont, noted for the spectacular filigree and twisting stairs of the only surviving rood screen in Paris. Our walk took to us in a U-shaped circuit from the Left Bank to the Right Bank and include Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois (the parish church of the Louvre), and Saint-Severin, the city’s most splendid example of Flamboyant Gothic, famous for its unusual twisted pillar. Along the way, our docent also pointed out many other famous Paris sites. The walk illustrated the evolution of medieval architecture from the Romanesque, through the four types of Gothic. Because these medieval churches have had more recent additions, we also could see their continuous modernization over the centuries. Inside the churches, we got to view the artistic treasures, stained glass, sculpture and panel paintings, some from the Middle Ages and other more recent, up to the modern day.Leaning about each church’s particular role – a monastery, parish of the kings, a stop on the pilgrim’s route or a place of worship for the students of the university – also provided details about the history of Paris.We learned a lot about Paris history and Gothic architecture and got a good orientation to the 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th arrondissements. A highly recommended tour for someone who has already seen Notre Dame and wants more insight into the city of Paris.
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