Joel and I were lucky enough to spend 16 days in Paris before Christmas. Well, it was more like I was lucky enough to spend 16 days wondering Paris while Joel unfortunately had to work. But we did get to play together on the weekends! As expected from an artist and a baker, our trip was full of baguettes, ham & cheese sandwiches, macaroons, art, architecture and museums. The museums took up most of our free time as well as walks along the Seine River. Now, two weeks is a long time to talk about anywhere so here are some stand outs of the trip –
I discovered that Laduree isn’t the only macaroon on this Earth as previously thought. In fact, there is a distant cousin to Laduree called Pierre Hermes which I have fallen madly in love with (sorry Joel). Their macaroons were heavenly – delicate and impressive flavor combinations such as grapefruit and Campari, creme brûlée (!!!) and rose.
Paris is full of fantastic museums aside from the Louvre (not to say I didn’t spend a full day there), and I do believe I ventured to every single museum that Paris has to offer. The Louvre is always impressive and magnificent, but there are just so many lovely, smaller and less crowded museums scattered throughout Paris. My favorites this trip were the Le Petit Palace, Musee du Moyan Age, Musee d’Orsay and the Musee l’Orangerie. The last one, Musee l’Orangerie, had one of the more fantastic painting exhibits I’ve ever seen – Spain between two centuries from Zuloaga to Picasso (1890-1920). You can see some info on it here, although it’s from is different museum. The Musee d’Moyan Age has been preserved so well that they even have a Roman Bath from the 1st century and you can actually walk all though it. There is something so incredible about walking directly on ancient ground that really connects you to the history of France. The museum also contained one of my all time favorite pieces of historical art, The Unicorn Tapestries. I cannot recommend the Musee d’Moyan Age enough. It is historic, quiet and beautiful.
As for the Petit Palace, the museum houses some great pieces but the building and outer garden are worth the (free) visit alone. The palace garden is so serene. I spent a good 45 minutes just taking it in. The sun was starting to go down with the magnificent palace dome in the forefront all the while, not a soul was in sight nor a word spoken.
Since we’re on the subject of museums, I made sure to visit my all time favorite artist’s namesake museum and see Rodin’s Gates of Hell. I marvel at it every time I see it. There are so many aspects; it is quite incredible and daunting and I will never get tired of starring at it, even in the winter Paris rain.
Along with art and food, something else was experienced in Paris – My Birthday! I turned 30 in Paris and it was… amazing. Joel took me to a superb restaurant with views of the Eiffel Tower. I don’t care how touristy it is, the Tour d’Eiffel is a feat of architectural proportions. And the sparkling lights only made my celebration more exciting. I cannot forget to mention my birthday cake as it is my all time favorite dessert – a rose St. Honore from Laduree (click on the link and droooool). I actually dream of this pastry so to have it for 30 was gift enough.
But I mustn’t forget about the Baguettes! Now that I am trained baker, I made it a mission to try as much bread as possible (as if this is something new now that I’ve been to culinary school. HA). I did not know this, but it makes perfect sense – Paris actually chooses their favorite baguettes of the year and gives out an award. Joel and I tried a few of the winners (Le Grenier a Pain) but our favorite baguette was from Eric Kayser.
Another site to see is the catacombs. They are awesome. You may have noticed that I actually enjoy wondering through graveyards, as they are just so peaceful, therefore it should be of no surprise that I also enjoyed being underground amongst millions of bones. The catacombs are unlike any other ‘place of rest’ in the world – they are actually decorative and creepy, at the same time. Its a very cool adventure to walk through the passages, under the city of Paris, amongst some of the city’s oldest residents.
And finally, I want to share a secret that I picked up while in Paris. It’s not about shopping or art or even food. It is the plain and simple fact that Paris is absolutely at its best during twilight. That lovely Parisian atmosphere you imagine most comes out right before sunset… and it is incredible…
That’s enough bragging for now, I think. Making you want to visit yet?