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New shoes! And Paris, Day 5

The heat was stifling yesterday, so we spent the morning indoors.  Bit by the shopping bug, I spent awhile browsing online.  Aside from the big purchase, I also bought two pairs of shoes – a new pair of sneaks and a pair of black Me Too flats.

Later in the afternoon, I went to meet up with a few friends at Sundaes and Cones, where J chose a two scoop cup with black sesame and taro.  The ice cream was very thick and creamy, and the black sesame was reminiscent of the black sesame filling in the Chinese tang yuan.  I wish the taro flavor had been stronger, but it was still quite good.

Afterwards, J and I headed down to Soho to drop by the Rainbow store so that he could pick up a new pair of flip flops.  About time.  (J: It was a sad moment… those flip flops have been with me for 5 years.)

We also stopped by Bloomingdales, but found nothing of interest.  It was getting late by then, so we walked back up to Union Square.  Before taking the subway home, we picked up some groceries and food from Trader Joe’s.  Apparently, Saturday night is the time to go – it was about as uncrowded as I’ve ever seen the place.  The rest of the evening was very laid back.  We made and ate dinner, and watched an episode of Royal Pains.

Now, for day 5 in Paris.

We kicked off the day with a croissant and a pastry from Vandermeesch.

The pastry had a custard-like filling, and it was delicious.  In fact, both were very well-made.  I miss waking up to Parisian sweets.

Wednesday was our self-declared museum day.  L’Orangerie was first – it houses eight waterlily paintings by Monet, each spanning an entire wall.  The museum was very spacious, and the white walls gave it a very airy feeling.  Monet’s waterlilies were housed in two separate (but adjoined) oval-shaped “rooms.”  In each room, you felt enveloped by the paintings – it was an incredibly impressive display.  Monet painted these works as he was going blind!

Mere snippets of the large paintings...

After admiring the waterlilies, J and I headed downstairs to look at the other Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings – works by Cezanne, Renoir, Picasso and Degas were among the ones on display.

Next, we walk across the bridge to reach the other bank of the Seine.  The Musée D’Orsay was the second stop on our museum tour.  The museum didn’t allow pictures, so we don’t have any – well, any except for the one that J managed to sneak.

Formerly a train station, now a museum.

The museum was beautiful, despite having sections under renovation.  The art was enjoyable, though after wandering through the entire museum, J and I began to feel a little tired and hungry.

So…lunch to the rescue!  We walked and walked, eventually reaching Poilane, where we got a quarter loaf of their famous sourdough, as well as a bag of punitions (little butter cookies).

From there, we tried to find a fromagerie (cheese shop) that we had on our list of places to visit, but it turned out to be further away than we thought.  Hunger overrode J’s desire to walk any longer, so we turned into the Grande Epicerie – where both of us went nuts over the sheer variety and selection of stuff available – from fresh fruits to cheese to meat to chocolate to packaged foods and so on.  The store was paradise…and a bit overwhelming.  After spending some time drooling over everything, J chose a slab of rabbit and mustard terrine, and a slab of headcheese (which does not contain cheese, but is made with meat from the head of a calf or pig).  He also got a selection of cheese for €12 and a package of Bordier butter.

We took all of our goodies to a nearby park and feasted.

Bread from Poilane

Croissant from Poilane

Rabbit and mustard terrine

Cheeeeese!

Buttah

The rabbit terrine was delicious, and J and I rapidly polished it off.  The butter contained smoked salt, to J’s chagrine – it overwhelmed the flavor of the butter.

The first cheese the J tried was a goat cheese, and probably the least stinky of the bunch.  The second was a cow’s cheese, and much, much more pungent.  J found the cheese delicious, though, and describes it as intensely umami.  The Poilane bread was fantastic, and we easily devoured the entire loaf.  The crust was crackly and deeply caramelized, and the crumb was chewy and moist.

And dessert?  Pierre Hermé, one of the contenders for the best macarons in Paris.

We skipped by these...and headed straight to the macarons!

Lunch left us a bit full, so we bought only four macarons: caramel, peach apricot, olive oil & vanilla, and passionfruit chocolate.

Olive oil and vanilla

Peach and apricot

Passionfruit chocolate

Caramel

The texture of Pierre Hermé’s macarons differs dramatically from that of Ladurée.  Much lighter and airier, especially the cookie part.  The flavors were extremely bright, and though J and I preferred Ladurée’s macarons, we could see why people love macarons from Pierre Hermé so much.

We munched on the macarons as we slowly made our way to the Panthéon.  We were glad that we had gotten our pictures of the exterior of the Panthéon two days earlier, when the area was devoid of crowds.  The Panthéon, like all the other Paris landmarks that we’d seen, was beautiful.  The walls were painted with murals, and a statue of St-Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris, stood under the dome.

Many famous men (and women) are interred in the underground crypt – we saw the tombs of Voltaire, Rousseau, Hugo, and the Curies.

Dumas, author of one of J's favorite books, The Count of Monte Cristo

Post-Panthéon, we briefly toured the Église Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, which had a beautiful double spiral staircase made of marble.

It was approaching 5 in the afternoon by then, but we weren’t done for the day – not at all – we had saved the biggest for the last – the Louvre.

We biked from the Pantheon to the Louvre, and walked to the entrance in the glass pyramid.  Our first major destination was the statue of Venus de Milo.

From there, we walked past classical statues and through a room full of Roman busts, moving towards the Renaissance hall.

There, we found the Mona Lisa, which was shielded by a pane of glass (which reflected all the beams of light from the cameras).  While the rest of the museum was relatively uncrowded, the Venus de Milo and Mona Lisa were surrounded by hoards of people.  The Mona Lisa itself was not entirely impressive – it was amusing that right across from it was a massive painting…which had maybe an audience of one.

We wandered through the rest of the South wing, enjoying the art (albeit more than a little tired at this point).

Sculpture by Michelangelo

The three hours in the Louvre allowed us to see only a fraction of the works housed in the great museum.  We’ll have to come back at some point – but for that night, we were done.

We retrieved our bikes and tried to bike through the Tuileries.  We were not sure if that was allowed or not – turns out, it’s not.  We made it halfway through before two guards asked us to walk our bikes instead of riding them.  And so we did.  We hopped back on once we were on the open road, and continued our way to the Champs Élysées.  After picking up some water, we headed to Ladurée and picked up four more macarons – caramel, vanilla, green apple and coconut.  I chose a mini éclair as well, though I dropped it on the ground while trying to photograph it (oops).

Seconds before it fell to the ground... sad!

The macarons were as delicious as ever.  The green apple – splendid!

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