Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Louvre, the Marais, and Pierre Hermé

First some Pierre Hermé food porn:
Easily the best macarons I've ever had and without a doubt the most elaborate packaging as well. If they get any better than this, please let me know immediately. Flavors from bottom to top: porcelana chocolate, jasmine flower/tea, salted (fleur de sel) caramel, cinnamon and pistachio, milk chocolate and passion fruit, rose, olive oil-cucumber-mandarin orange. My favorites of the bunch: porcelana chocolate, chocolate/passion fruit, and olive oil/cucumber/mandarin orange.

These past couple weeks have been a whirlwind of shopping classes and going on group trips with my program to explore various parts of Paris--namely the Louvre and the Marais. The Louvre trip made me realize just how vast it actually is because although we went to multiple exhibits, we probably only saw the tiniest percentage of what the museum has to offer. Our guide showed us the base walls and moat of the original Louvre building and then took us to see ancient Greek statues, some artifacts from the time of Louis XIV, the chambers of the former king, and, of course, paintings. I will definitely be coming back to the Louvre multiple times before my time is up, especially since I get in free with my French student card.

Taken from my instagram.

I inexplicably found this small torso very amusing.
The famous Venus de Milo! Apparently one of the few Greek statues at the Louvre that is actually the original, and not a copy. Because the statue was recovered without its arms, researchers can only guess that it is a statue of Venus and not of Amphitrite, a sea goddess revered by the island of Milo. Our tour guide pointed out a pale patch of stone underneath the statue's nose where some restoration work was done.
Diana of Versailles
Sleeping Hermaphroditus - my friends and I spent a while debating whether or not the mattress was also made of stone. Turns out, the mattress was added later by Italian sculptor Bernini in 1620.
The Three Graces - Canova

Last week our program went with the same tour guide around the Marais to discover some architecture. The Marais consists of the 3rd and 4th arrondissements of France. It was once known as the aristocratic part of France but is now home to growing gay and Jewish populations and is a trendy place for shopping and art museums.

Found in the courtyard of the Hôtel de Beauvais, which is known in part for being where Mozart stayed when he came to Paris. Essentially a big plaque that says "Mozart wuz here"

"Alice opened the door and found that it led into a small passage, not much larger than a rat-hole: she knelt down and looked along the passage into the loveliest garden you ever saw. How she longed to get out of that dark hall, and wander about among those beds of bright flowers and those cool fountains, but she could not even get her head though the doorway."

The Wall of Philippe August, one of the first city walls of Paris. The wall once separated aristocratic Paris from not-Paris. 1190-1213
Seeing the remnants of the ancient wall was definitely the most impressive part of our tour of the Marais. There was a dirt field along the wall on which children were riding bikes and playing with a ball by bouncing the ball off the wall and catching it again. The juxtaposition of young and extremely old was quite striking to me.

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