Thursday, October 31, 2013

More wandering the Left Bank, d'Orsay Museum and Macarons...

Some very interesting windows and doorway as we left the restaurant - did not figure out what this building was....

Nearing the d'Orsay Museum, again there was a big row of bikes to rent - these are found everywhere around the city - you rent them for 90 min intervals and return to a stand so they are "checked in".  We have this in Minneapolis but not to this extent. 

The history of the museum, of its building is quite unusual. In the centre of Paris on the banks of the Seine, opposite the Tuileries Gardens, the museum was installed in the former Orsay railway station, built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. So the building itself could be seen as the first "work of art" in the Musee d'Orsay, which displays collections of art from the period 1848 to 1914.

Very interesting building - and unlike the Louvre where the interior is all redone, this museum still looks and feels like an old railway station. Before we had decided if we would attempt the Louvre, we decided to at least see the d'Orsay - with its collections of sculpture and impressionist art.

The old clock

Passageways between areas of the museum

A view of Montmartre and Sacre Coeur from the museum

From there it was on our way to more things we wanted to find. 
Along the way

I wanted a better picture of this  - on the left bank, in the Latin Quarter,

Shakespeare and Company is the name of two independent bookstores on Paris's Left Bank. The first was opened by Sylvia Beach on 17 November 1919 at 8 rue Dupuytren, before moving to larger premises at 12 rue de l'Odéon in the 6th arrondissement in 1922.[1] During the 1920s, it was a gathering place for writers such as Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway,James Joyce and Ford Madox Ford. It closed in 1940 during the German occupation of Paris and never re-opened.[2]
The second is situated at 37 rue de la Bûcherie, in the 5th arrondissement. Opened in 1951 by George Whitman, it was originally named "Le Mistral" but renamed to "Shakespeare and Company" in 1964 in tribute to Sylvia Beach's bookstore. Today, it serves both as a regular bookstore and as a reading library, specializing in English-language literature. The shop was featured in the Richard Linklater film Before Sunset and in the Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris.
The bookstore includes sleeping facilities, with 13 beds, and Whitman claimed that as many as 40,000 people have slept in the shop over the years

The bookstore is located in a beautiful area just steps from Notre Dame (in the background) and the Seine river. 

So by this time, it was definitely time for some refreshment and after walking the very crowded and popular left bank area and considering several restaurants

we picked Le Sainsev.

 Bill claims a few drops of rain fell but actually it was only on him, if so, so the rest of us denied it. He had the seat that wasn't quite under the awning...

I knew there was a reason to write these things immediately! I don't remember the food now... but obviously fries and salad were popular. I think mine is rabbit or duck, Judy's was chicken, don't know the other one. 

But afterwards we walked across the street to get some treats to take home. Maison Georges Larnicol - a well known chocolatier.  We got chocolate and macarons.

After a long day of walking, enjoying our terrace and our dessert. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Wandering around - Saint Germain des Pres

At the end of this day we were so happy to realize that with all we had done, we still had half our trip left!! But no idea how fast those last five days would go.

Somehow I missed pictures of breakfast - how did that happen?

But we did a little wandering today - walked to the St Germain des Pres and Left Bank area. We had a couple of destinations in mind - some famous restaurants and an English bookstore, once frequented by many English speaking writers.


 Its amazing how often you come down a street and find a big plaza and monument.

We then took a bus most of the way to St Germain area

As we rode by the Louvre, it struck me how many people ride by on the bus and probably no longer even notice....

Bill and his special glasses....
Judy using two iPhones to find the way - Kevin consulting
Looks like they decided on different ways...

But on we went down the long Boulevard Saint Germain

One possible choice for lunch - but everything was crowded and we decided to go to the second choice. Café de Flore opened in 1885 and here is a little history of it and its rival where we ended up.
The Café de Flore, at the corner of Boulevard Saint-Germain and Rue St. Benoit, in the 6th arrondissement, is one of the oldest and the most prestigious coffeehouses in Paris, celebrated for its famous clientele.
The classic Art Deco interior of all red seating, mahogany and mirrors has changed little since World War II. Like its main rival, Les Deux Magots, it has hosted most of the French intellectuals during the post-war years.
In his essay "A Tale of Two Cafes" and his book Paris to the Moon, American writer Adam Gopnik mused over the possible explanations of why the Flore had become, by the late 1990s, much more fashionable and popular than its rival, Les Deux Magots, despite the fact that the latter cafe was associated with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, and other famous thinkers of the 1940s and 1950s. Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai was known to be a frequent patron of Café de Flore during his years in France in the 1920s

And this one was no less crowded - we were told that if we wanted to eat it would be a long wait. We waited awhile and then seeing a small table open up we asked if we could have that - they said it was too small for four to eat but if we wanted to have just drinks we could take it until a larger one opened. 

Les Deux Magots (the two figurines) is a famous café in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area of Paris, France. It once had a reputation as the rendezvous of the literary and intellectual élite of the city. It is now a popular tourist destination. Its historical reputation is derived from the patronage of Surrealist artists, intellectuals such as Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, and young writers, such as Ernest Hemingway. Other patrons included Albert Camus, Pablo Picasso, James Joyce,Bertolt Brecht and the American writer Charles Sutherland. It began as a silk lingerie shop in the early 1870's and was named after a play "Les Deux Magots de la Chine (two figurines from China). In 1884 it became a cafe. 

So we started with drinks
We read that it has the best hot chocolate anywhere - and we voted that this is true. Even on a very warm day sitting in the sun!
 Then we talked the waiter into serving us food at this tiny table...

Our waiter

And dessert - we shared this and it was SO good!

People watching was wonderful here - wish the sun had not been right behind our view - it was hard to get pictures. Lots of HIGH heels

And I wish you could see this guys outfit better - the one in the bowler hat. He had on boots, leggings/pants that were some crazy print, a skirt (kilt?), dress jacket and the hat. 

the view down the boulevard - across from us were stores like Cartier...

And this man was standing around, not talking to anyone, not really looking for a place at the restaurant, just kind of loitering. We wondered what he was doing when a car pulled up and he jumped in and drove away. A few minutes later he was back. Turned out it was a valet service...

the church right across from us - did not find out what it is though

So, next entry is finding the book store and a museum...