I arrived in Paris on Saturday morning, so I was able to enjoy two days in the city before work began. On Saturday we headed to the St Germain des Pres area, which is adjacent to the Latin quarter. Both have a history of attracting intellectuals, artists, and politicians. This area is home to The Ecole Nationale d’Administration, where many French politicians studied, and Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, France's leading school for fine arts.
Our first stop was Le Bon Marché department store. Paris department stores are architectural marvels. Note the escalators. I spend more time looking at those details, than the actual merchandise, although the January sales are running through mid February, so there are still deals to be had.
We met a friend from Cape Cod for afternoon tea at Laduree on Rue Bonaparte. Established in 1862, it's a Parisian institution. This elegant patisserie is famous for its macaroons, which are made daily in flavors of rose, pistachio, chestnut, lemon, raspberry, and more. Not only are they beautiful to look at, they're delicious to eat. I had chicken and spinach salad served in a cucumber round. It was delicious, and a lovely presentation. Followed by a nice sampling of macaroons for dessert as we discussed work, university for my niece and nephew, and a bit about the current political climate in the US and France.
Our last stop in the St Germain was La grande épicerie de Paris, the food market of Le Bon Marché. For me it was simply heaven; aisles of the finest gourmet foods, breads, meats, cheeses, and chocolates all artfully displayed in this beautiful setting. We shopped for our breakfast groceries for the week, and fresh pasta to go with the Daube (the authentic Provencal recipe) that simmered on the stove for dinner.
Sunday was a day in The Marais. It's one of the oldest districts of Paris, and was originally settled by France's nobility, so it's home to some impressive architectural buildings. After several centuries the nobility moved on to the Faubourg Saint Germain, and the area became a popular destination for Eastern European Jews. There are still food shops, restaurants, and bookstores that support today's thriving Jewish community. It's also filled with art galleries, one of a kind shops, and many great restaurants. The perfect destination on Sunday afternoon for some good food and a leisurely visit to one of the many museums, and attractions, in the area.
For us it was crepes for lunch at Creperie Suzette. I've been there a few times and it's consistently delicious. The chicken, onion, mushroom crepe topped with pesto and creme fraiche was perfection! Then on to the Voyage en Capitale: Louis Vuitton & Paris exhibition at the Musee Carnavalet. This charming museum, with it's beautiful courtyard, is dedicated to the history of Paris. The courtyard drew me in the first time I walked by in the summer of 2007. It's formal center gardens are surrounded by flowers in the warm months. It's a peaceful place to relax and take a break from the hustle and bustle of the Marais.
Leaving the Marais, we walked in the direction of Ile de la Cite coming up behind Notre Dame. The afternoon sun was casting a rose-like glow on the city so I leave you with this...