Thursday, May 17, 2018

Visiting Paris in May

Dear Readers,

I've just returned from a trip to Paris, Sicily, and Malta.  I've been unable to blog because Blogger is slow, although I've been able to post pictures in my Facebook and Instagram accounts -- links below.

I have much to share and will start with Paris.

We stayed in the Latin Quarter once again, an area that we enjoy because it's right in the middle of things. Our hotel is walking distance  to the Notre Dame, Saint Michel Plaza, Shakespeare and Company, Odeon, Luxembourg Palace and Garden, Cluny Museum and many other places.  It's also a short walk to the Batobus terminal, a public boat service that operates like a Hop-on-Hop-Off and  allows one to cruise the Seine, with 8 stops in key Paris sites (Notre Dame, Jardin Des Plantas, Hotel De Ville, Louvre, Champs-Elysee, Eiffel Tower, D'Orsay Museum, and Saint Germaine.)

We enjoyed meals at the numerous restaurants in the area, including Les Editeurs where the literari hang out and Le Petit Chatelet where we had wonderful steaks (as good as the grass-fed steaks we had in Buenos Aires). We had wonderful crepes and shwarma in the small places next to our hotel.

We've seen the usual Paris sites in past visits, so this time, we toured new places.

First on our list was the Foundation Louis Vuitton located in a Frank Gehry building in the Bois de Boulogne. The building has typical Gehry elements, modern, soaring, structural, skeletal in the way it shows its "ribs." The building itself was worth the visit; in addition the museum was pleasantly un-crowded, with interesting exhibitions. There were video clips, some like experimental movies. There was one exhibit that was in a completely dark space, and walking into it felt like being absorbed into blackness. In that darkness you could hear sounds of wildlife --  real sounds apparently from the Amazon. There were several galleries of art by Takashi Murakami, and other interesting exhibitions.

The other new experience was a visit to a rooftop garden. I'd been reading about the rooftop gardens in Paris, some with  beehives. In one rooftop garden, they even discovered rare truffles! We looked up and visited a rooftop garden at Le 43 near us. No beehives nor rare truffles there, but the view was magnificent. We had an almost 360 degree lookout of Paris. We had cocktails while watching the sun set over the iconic buildings and structures of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower. The sight was breathtaking, and most definitely Le 43 will be one of the places that we will visit when we return to Paris.

The third place that was a new experience was the Hameau de La Reine, Marie Antoinette's "village" in the grounds of the Palace of Versailles. We toured the Palace, which was dreadfully crowded as usual, but the Palace grounds were less so. I did not know until this visit that beyond the formal gardens and canals were other palaces, smaller than the Palace of Versailles, but also elegant and sumptuous.

One of this is the Petit Trianon, which Marie Antoinette used as her "retreat" of sorts.  She and her friends, including her Swedish lover, hung out there. She created a picturesque village or hamlet, which served as her play-village. She and her friends held theatrical performances there. Marie Antoinette could dress up like a farm girl and stroll among the sheep and chickens of the hamlet (the sheep were reportedly dyed to match the color of her dress). The hamlet was occupied by a few farmers so it was functional. The Disney-looking houses were designed by the noted architect Richard Mique. The entire village cost a huge sum, which only increased the ire of the people. Not too long after the Queen's hamlet was created, the French Revolution occurred and Marie Antoinette was executed by guillotine.

I'll end this blog entry here, but I'll be writing more about my recent trip, so stay tuned.


Tags: travel, Paris, France, Marie Antoinette, Hamlet, Versailles

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