Monday, May 19, 2014

May 17-18

Saturday/Sunday, May 18:

Students had Saturday free to buy presents, to go to any last-minute museums, to pack, and to finish writing their journals for the trip.  Sunday we were up early, caught our taxis with no problem, and headed to the airport.  I'll finish up this record of our trip with an image that only the members of the module will "love" and appreciate:  

Thanks to everyone who helped make this a great trip!!

May 16

Friday, May 16:

Up early to beat the lines to the Catacombs, the ossuaries of Paris, where over six million Parisians' remains are located, after having been moved during the 18th century.  It's an unusual place, and not for the claustrophobic. 

In line early, to beat the crowd that at opening time stretches for a couple of city blocks.

After over 100 steps down into the tunnels, you eventually enter a door which says:  "Stop!  This here is the empire of death"


After being underground for a while, we opted to get out in the open in the afternoon and headed for Bercy, a neighborhood in the eastern central part of Paris, near the Gare de Lyon, where you can find one of the nicest parks in the city; Bercy Village, a series of shops and restaurants housed in renovated wine warehouses; and La Cinémathèque Français, probably the most famous -- and historically-important -- film center in the world. 

One can eat well at Bercy Village; at an Italian bistro there I had mozzarella and eggplant sprinkled with crystaline pesto and a spicy penne arrabiatta.


After lunch, on to the Cinémathèque Français (whose building was designed by the American architect Frank Gehry), which was celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Heni Langlois, the founder of the Cinémathèque, and one of the truly great cinephiles of film history:


Friday night, we all ate at Alexandre, a fondue restaurant that specializes both in cheese foundue and cooking your own meat and vegetables on hot stones -- a great place for students of all ages to play with their food!

May 15

Thursday, May 15:

Today was a free day for students to pursue their own research interests, so I'm including a series of images entitled "Faces of Paris" that we've seen over the past several days here.

May 14

Wednesday, May 14:

On another beautiful day, we headed out of town on the RER suburban train to Versailles, about 12 miles from downtown Paris.  Originally a hunting lodge for Louis XIII, who was wanting to escape from all the palace intrigue at the Louvre during the 1620s, Versailles became under Louis XIV, the "Sun King," the most magnificent palace in Europe during the mid-to-late 17th century. 

And the back yard isn't too shabby either: 




And like many French museums and historical sites, there's good food nearby.  In the gardens of Versailles is the Italian restaurant, La Petit Venise.  It's housed in a former stable that they've renovated very impressively.

And we couldn't resist a bit of desert after lunch:  I had Passion Fruit and Chocolate Choux Buns with limoncello creme sauce. 

By the end of the day, most of us agreed that's it's good to be the King -- until the Revolution comes, that is.  

Saturday, May 17, 2014

May 13

Tuesday, May 13:

On a bright, perfect day in Paris, we headed first to the Luxembourg Gardens: 


One of the best parts of the Gardens is the Medici fountain, a perfect place to sit 
and get away from the intensity of city life. 


After the Gardens we walked by Hemingway's apartment he shared with his second wife, Pauline, 
and visited St. Sulpice, the church he sometimes visited, seeking forgiveness 
for leaving his first wife, Hadley. 



After lunch (sandwiches from Le Bon Marché) we headed towards the Musée d'Orsay, the great museum of 19th century French painting.  Along the way, we stopped long enough to pay our respects at the home of the French Prime Minister, L'Hotel Matignon (perhaps surprisingly modest -- at least on the outside -- for one of the world leaders.)


The d'Orsay was originally a train station and transformed magnificently during the 1980s into a great space for some of the earliest and most important modern paintings, photographs, and sculptures.


While the d'Orsay is most famous for its Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings (Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh) it also houses some of the most representative Academic paintings of the mid-to-late 19th century.  One of the wildest is surely William Bourguereau's Les Oréades, a scene from Greek mythology.


After the d'Orsay we headed over to the Rodin Museum.  Rodin, the most famous sculptor of the 19th century, has many examples of his work on display in truly one of the most beautiful setting in the heart of Paris.  

Among his most famous works there are The Thinker, The Doors of Hell, and The Burghers of Calais.

One of the reasons I personally like the Rodin Museum is that they have a wonderful outdoor cafe in the gardens where you can re-charge mid-afternoon with some coffee and macarons like these:


Literally across the street from the Rodin is Napoleon's Tomb:

And his casket, which is about the size of an SUV back in the States: