Sunday, June 1, 2014

Talk about sparkle...

So, the husband and I got back a few days ago from a little jaunt to Paris, Florence, and Rome.  What an experience!  Friends of ours got married in Paris, thus the main reason for our trip.  Neither of us had ever been to France or Italy, and man, did every place blow our minds!

I thought I wouldn't really enjoy Paris, but I was completely wrong.  Completely.  I LOVED Paris!  What a city.  Completely magical - from the Eiffel Tower, to the amazing museums, to the food, or rather the pastries and crepes.  YUM!  There was a little street crepe vendor down the street from our hotel that we visited a few times for ham, egg, and cheese crepes, and banana and nutella crepes.  Heavenly.  We picked up some pain au chocolat at the Saturday flea market, and ate it on the rooftop terrace at the Musee d'Orsay.  It was so good!  The hot chocolate was pretty spectacular there too.

We went on an adventure to get macarons.  One of the husband's friends told us about his two favorite places in Paris for macarons.  One - Ladurée, created in 1862.  Unbeknownst to us, we actually ate dinner there (at the Champs Elysées) the night before we found one of their other outposts for macarons (at 21 Rue Bonaparte in the 7th).  Our dinner was pretty good.  Their macaroons were AMAZING!  We got chocolate, vanilla, lemon, strawberry mint, salted caramel, and pistachio.  

The other place that was recommended was Pierre Herme at 72 Rue Bonaparte in Paris.  Also in the 7th, this place definitely had a different vibe than Ladurée.

Where Ladurée seemed more "ladies who lunch" and antique, Pierre Herme was more modern and streamlined.  They had many other desserts and pastries in addition to their macarons.

We got chocolate, vanilla, and pistachio macarons, and we got one of their specialty desserts: Ispahan - a rose cookie with lychee filling.  It sounded slightly strange, but the person who helped us at Pierre Herme, said it was one of their most popular desserts.  He wasn't wrong.  It was delicious.  We ate it about 2 days after we bought it.  It was our last day in Paris, and we planned to visit the Louvre.  We toted the cookie, in its lovely square box, with us to the Louvre, and shoved it inside my purse while we walked around the museum.  It was with us when we saw the smirk of the Mona Lisa, and when we saw the lovely Venus de Milo.  Then when we were finished looking at amazingly beautiful art, we dug the cookie box out of my purse, and opened it to find a delightfully smooshed and sad looking cookie.  But it tasted amazing!

Aside from the spectacularly delicious pastries and desserts, one of my favorite things in Paris was the Eiffel Tower.  We have all seen pictures of the tower in movies, magazines, etc.  But nothing really prepares you for seeing it for the first time in person.  It is magnificent.  It is absolutely gigantic.  I loved it!  The top of the tower was one of the first things we saw after ascending from the Metro on our way to the hotel from the airport.  We turned around and saw the top peeking out from amongst other buildings.  Love at first sight!  We dumped our bags off at the hotel, got some food, and walked toward the tower.  When we turned the corner in the Champ de Mars park, and saw the Eiffel just standing there - I couldn't help but smile and stare in awe at the magnificence in front of me.  We stood there for a time just pondering the tower.

A few days later we took a guided tour of the Tower (with Viator tours).  Our guide, Victor, told us all sorts of interesting things about the Tower.  Apparently, it was constructed in such a way that it is extremely light for its size.  If you put a canister around the tower, and sealed it off, the air inside the canister would weigh more than the tower itself.  It was constructed for the World's Fair in 1889.  The French government held a contest for the building of a monument to anchor the World's Fair.  It was open to everyone, and the 2 caveats were that it had to be 320 meters high (double the size of the Washington Monument) and the winner of the contest had to pay 80% of the construction cost.  One of the entries that wasn't picked was a 320 meter guillotine.  Another was a 320 meter tall sprinkler.  Obviously they made the right choice when they picked Gustave Eiffel's design.  Gustave was smart enough to negotiate that his tower would need to stand for 20 years, and that he would get all of the profits from entrance fees for the tower for that time.  He paid himself back for his initial investment in only 6 months, the remaining 19 years and 6 months were pure profit.  Victor also told us that the tower sparkles every hour on the hour for 5 minutes starting at 10pm and ending at 1am.  He told us that the 1am sparkling is the best because they shut off all of the other tower lights and just let the sparkles sparkle.

So, a few days later, we found ourselves at 1am at the Eiffel Tower reveling in the sparkle.

Boy does it sparkle!

I now know why Paris is considered the City of Love!  I can't wait to go back!

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