Let them eat bread


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Europe » France » Île-de-France » Paris
June 3rd 2012
Published: June 4th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

Good god I love the bread in Paris. The bread in italy was like something scraped off a homeless person and left in the sun to rise by comparison. I've been eating so much of it, however, than I'm in danger of having no clothes left that fit, so this morning, after waking up to basically both my parents sitting on my feet, we had a healthy breakfast of fruit and yoghurt. I have adopted the French custom of heating milk before adding it to coffee, and it seems to infinitely improve the taste somehow. I will probably keep it up once I'm home.

During breakfast dad read to us about Luka Rocco Magnotta, a Montreal porn star who is the main suspect in the case of a murdered Concordia student who was dismembered and then mailed in small pieces (including a hand and a foot) to Montreal conservative party members. He has extensive postings online, including a video of the murder, and bragging about torturing kittens. He was spotted in the northwest part of Paris two days ago, and dad now carefully scrutinizes ever man he sees to discover whether he might be Magnotta.

So with that excellent
Ballroom from the Wendel hotel by Sert -Musée CarnavaletBallroom from the Wendel hotel by Sert -Musée CarnavaletBallroom from the Wendel hotel by Sert -Musée Carnavalet

The arch on the right is a mirror, the middle is the actual door, the left are more mirrors
and terrifying start to the day, we headed out for Musée Carnavalet. The Musée Carnavalet is defined thusly: In 1548, Jacques des Ligneris, President of the Parliament of Paris, ordered the construction of the mansion that came to be known as the Hôtel Carnavalet; construction was completed about 1560. In 1578, the widow of Francois de Kernevenoy, later known as Carnavalet, purchased the building. In 1654, the mansion was bought by Claude Boislève, who commissioned the well-known architect, François Mansart, to make extensive renovations. Madame de Sévigné, famous for her letter-writing, lived in the Hôtel Carnavalet from 1677 until her death in 1696. Hôtel Carnavalet was purchased by the Municipal Council of Paris in 1866; it was opened to the public in 1880. By the latter part of the 20th century, the museum was bursting at the seams. The museum contains about 2,600 paintings, 20,000 drawings, 300,000 engravings and 150,000 photographs, 2,000 modern sculptures and 800 pieces of furniture, thousands of ceramics, many decorations, models and reliefs, signs, thousands of coins, countless items, many of them souvenirs of famous characters, and thousands of archeological fragments.

The end of 19th century brought impressive Art Nouveaux and Art Deco styles. From that period came interesting interiors. The Ballroom of the Hôtel de Wendel by the Catalan designer and painter José María Sert y Badia features large paintings of Queen Sheba and golden decorations. Sert also decorated the Rockefeller and Waldorf Astoria hotels in New York city. Sert's ballroom was by far my father's favorite part of the museum because of the details and oddity of the whole thing. The painting depicts the queen of Sheba and various components of her realm, and was finished in 1925.

Also in the hotel was a whole floor dedicated to the French revolution, of which my current understanding is the French revolted because they didn't want to eat some stupid cakes, they wanted good French bread, and I don't blame them. I'd behead myself and stuff the neck-hole with bread if I had the chance. Because I'm sure there's more to the story than that, I'm going to take a second to better understand the French revolution, which is defined thusly: The French Revolution (French: Révolution française; 1789–1799), was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France that had a major impact on France and indeed all of Europe. The absolute monarchy
Detail of a moulding in pink and green room Musée CarnavaletDetail of a moulding in pink and green room Musée CarnavaletDetail of a moulding in pink and green room Musée Carnavalet

Reminds me of slapping the other children at birthday parties until they gave me the icing roses off their piece of cake
that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years. French society underwent an epic transformation, as feudal, aristocratic and religious privileges evaporated under a sustained assault from radical left-wing political groups, masses on the streets, and peasants in the countryside. The French Revolution began in 1789 with the convocation of the Estates-General in May. The first year of the Revolution saw members of the Third Estate proclaiming the Tennis Court Oath in June, the assault on the Bastille in July, the passage of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in August, and an epic march on Versailles that forced the royal court back to Paris in October. The next few years were dominated by tensions between various liberal assemblies and a right-wing monarchy intent on thwarting major reforms. There were many executions, among them king Louis the XVI and Marie Antoinette, his austrian wife. Fifteen when she was married and nineteen when she became queen, Marie initially charmed the french with her personality and beauty, but the they generally came to dislike her, accusing "L'Autre-chienne" (a pun in French playing with the words "Autrichienne" meaning Austrian (woman) and "Autre-chienne" meaning Other bitch) of being profligate and promiscuous, and of harboring sympathies for France's enemies, particularly Austria, her country of origin. That she uttered "let them eat cake" in response to hearing the people of France had no bread (!!!!!!), is unlikely, and all seems to have started with a quote in Rousseau's autobiography: "Enfin je me rappelai le pis-aller d’une grande princesse à qui l’on disait que les paysans n’avaient pas de pain, et qui répondit : Qu’ils mangent de la brioche." ie, he remembers a big-time princess who, upon hearing the peasants had no bread said, "let them eat brioche."

After the museum it was time for ME to eat bread, and to pick up my sunglasses from home (it looked like rain when we left, but then brightened up), so we picked up a fresh baguette, aged ham and cheve and made delicious sandwiches at home. Speaking of queens, among those who have never been beheaded is queen Elizabeth II, who celebrated her 60th year on the throne this year (though not in the way dodgy food makes you do that), and thus we had to toast her four times today: at breakfast, at lunch, with our dessert spoons at dinner, and with our after dinner wine.

After lunch we set out for the worlds most unoriginally named landmarks, le Jardin des Planets, or the garden of plants. Its a lovely garden with a great indoor rainforest and desert, petrified wood and a spectacular rose garden.

After that it was a walk through the mouffetard area for two refreshments stops and dinner in a south of France restaurant on the street of iron pots (English translation by me), which was chockablock full of restaurants, almost all of which offered various pix fix menus at 12 euro, 15 euro, 18 euro and 23 euro (as an example), and on each of these menus one could pick between five or six appetizers, five or six mains, and a handful of desserts. Our place we picked because we wanted French food and we liked the sound of their fish soup. My father and I both had ate fish soup to start and my mother had the bouillabaisse as a main, and they were all fantastic. Our server was terrific too - very patient, and spoke in the language in which she was addressed, thus she spoke French with me, and did her best with English with my parents, or sometimes relied on me to butcher out a translation. I've been pleasantly surprised by how many French people are willing to let me try to communicate, and I haven't had to use much English at all when speaking with people outside my family (who are all furiously fighting the urge to say "grazie" to everything).

After dinner we swung by Geoff's for some Geoff time. We worked out a plan for tomorrow to all go to the louvre, but not to bother trying to meet up since we'll all look at things at our own pace. That sounds very simple, but somehow it took twenty minutes of hashing out terrible louvre rendezvous plans to realize it.

I'm looking forward to seeing the massive crowd around the Mona Lisa, and maybe even the painting itself!


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4th June 2012

So your pants are not Toulouse these days?
Glad you love the bread. Try some frogs legs for me...

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