Monday, 2 March 2015

A Little French History

Paris Patisserie (1)

After spending two days in Paris on my own, Dan, my boyfriend came to visit. 

Before I went, I was a little nervous to navigate a foreign city that I'd never been to before, yet actually, the previous two days had been such an experience. 

Being a woman alone in Paris has something rather sophisticated about it and I honestly loved it, however it was rather nice to have someone to share my utter excitement over ever single little thing with. Gasping at statues on your own does get some odd looks.

So with a new found partner in my Paris adventure, I bundled him off in search of a Parisian lunch.

Paris Patisserie (7)

For a man who claims he looks German (Don't know, don't ask) I think he blends in rather well into French life.

Paris Patisserie (6)

Having had a very lazy morning and missed breakfast, it was straight into lunch. We found ourselves walking in the direction of Napoleon's tomb which was on my must see list, and stumbled down some back streets.  

This I found is where the cute little, non touristy Bakeries- or Boulangerie- were. 

Paris Patisserie (5)

The utter intoxicating smell of freshly baked bread nearly wafted through the streets.

Crisp, buttery pastries lined the counter and the most colourful cakes and sweets went on for rows after rows.

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I honestly was gawping at everything, pinching Dan's arm saying "Look at that one!"

The only thing with a non tourist area is the shop assistant was giving me very odd looks, plus the language barrier was the first I'd encountered.

But we persevered in the name of food, and bought ourselves some fresh warm bread and cheese, and a cake.

Paris Patisserie (8) Paris Patisserie (9)

Now whilst some bloggers can look beautifully immaculate whilst on holiday, with that whimsical fresh look, I on the other hand was far more concerned with getting out and about, so with February temperatures plummeting in Paris, and one hell of a wind in my face, I was far from fresh.

To tell you the truth though, I'd rather show you Paris than my face. It's far more appealing, trust me.

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With prime example being this cake. Far more appealing wouldn't you agree?

musee de l'armee (3)

After feasting on our first boulangerie bought meal, we went for yet another leisurely wander.

Heading in the direction of Napoleons tomb, I spied this utterly stunning building and grounds.

Honestly, I've simply just fallen in love with Parisian architecture.

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Turning around the corner, it turned out to be the corner of Musée de l'Armée (The Army Museum) and also where Napoleons Tomb is.

Musee de l'armee (21)

Whilst I have no personal problem with Napolean, I think someone may have held a slight grudge as a car had driven straight through the wall and into the moat the previous day.


Now if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you may have seen this picture floating about.

Before I went to Paris, I was asked by the Paris Tourism Board if I would like to work with this. Hmm let me think about that...

So I was sent a one of their 2 day City Passes to use. The pass contains a Museum Pass which gets you into just about any museum for free, a bus tour, a cruise tour and a 2 day Metro (Underground) ticket. It's basically everything you need for a sightseeing trip to Paris.

So with pass in hand, we were waved right on through the gates of the Musée de l'Armée

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Once again, I was just mesmerised by the architecture and beauty of the building. Paris has the most intricately built buildings. 

The Musée de l'Armée is actually located in the L'Hôtel national des Invalides, which is the building you see in the picture. The entire building actually has a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans in it, which was the original purpose of L'Hôtel national des Invalides.

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The front gardens have some amazing statues and preserved canons, plus in the summer, the gardens would be beautiful in bloom. It also is a great advantage point to see the Eiffel Tower.

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The Army Museum is essentially a museum of war history. A bit like London or Manchester's Imperial War Museum, but from a French perspective. 

The museum spans hundreds of years of French battles, from the French colonisation of Africa to World War Two.

My personal favourite was the Crown collections, a presentation of arms and armor from knights of St. Louis to Louis XIII.

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If I saw a solider wearing that helmet, wielding that sword, coming towards me, I swear to God I'd run the other way.

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Completely fascinating, even if just from a visual perspective as sadly most of the signs are only in French.

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As I said there is so many more sections of French history, including all about the French's input into Little Boy (The name of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima)

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Exiting the museum via the rear, takes you to a small courtyard. Unassuming itself, but stand back and look up and this looms over.

The pictures don't do it justice. The dome literally shone gold and practically sparkled. 

This is the Dôme des Invalides and contains the Dome Church and what I'd been looking forward to; the tomb of Napoleon. 

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Now as I keep banging on about how beautiful Paris is on the outside, I wasn't prepared for the absolute STUNNING beauty inside.

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It was utterly breathtaking inside. Honestly one of the most glorious and beautiful places I have seen. I took so many photos and I wanted to share more but this post would have never ended.

Whilst I know some people are funny about churches and religion, for me, I look at it objectively and as I piece of art.

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There are a few tombs in the church, but of course the main one is that of Napoleon, which is on the lower ground floor but visible from a huge opening of the ground floor floor.

Apparently this is so when people look down, they 'bow' to Napoleon. (Thanks Fashion Worked for the info)

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I have to admit, the tomb itself I thought looked rather odd. It looked a bit too... modern maybe? It's very shiny and smooth and looks rather like its made of something a little cheap.

Going from the utter beauty that is the church, it stands out like a sore thumb in my opinion.

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Regardless of the tomb material, the tomb and  museum are a must see in Paris. Fascinating and beautiful. Plus with the City pass its free to get in, and free to get their by tube.

Sadly dinner isn't included with the pass, but that didn't stop us as after all, all the learning had built us up quite an appetite.

Gare aux gorilles (2)

One of the other places that Lisa- the Parisian woman from Accor hotels- had recommended was Garre Aux Gorille. Now a quick Google translate will tell you means Beware of the Gorilla, which I have no idea why it would be called this, but it is one place you don't have to be wary of. It's fantastic.

A almost rail carriage-esque room, narrow with white wash walls and that stone flooring with the black diamonds, it's slightly unassuming but bares no reflection on the quality of the food.

Garre Aux Gorille is small plates or tapas style sharing. So we ordered quite a few dishes to graze on, including sliced in front of us Salami.

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A rich duck terrine with quince and garlic puree, garnished with carrot coins, which was so moreish and disappeared along with the never ending warm bread.
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Pommes darphin which were some kind of sautéed potatoes that were hot, fluffy and with a sprinkling of sea salt, made for a gorgeous melt in the mouth experience. 

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Octopus tentacle with blended cress sauce. 

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Beef tartare with sweet potato crisps and forgive me, but I've forgotten what the airy mouse like topping was.

I'm fast becoming a huge fan of beef tartare, and while not as good as the one at Roca in Paris, still was great.

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Finishing the night off, was a granola and apple bowl, topped with fantastic vanilla ice cream. It was almost like a de-constructed apple crumble which made me think of good ol' blighty. 

By 9pm (Paris eat dinner later than us Brits- the place doesn't even open till 7:30pm) was heaving, and the atmosphere buzzy and fun. With food like this though I'm not surprised.

With a head filled with history facts and a belly filled with food and wine, we practically fell sleep in the hotel lift.

With achy feet and a fuzzy head, tomorrow's Paris fun was a little more race-y...

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  1. The architecture and history are wonderful, but I was too distracted by those cakes!!
    Lots of love,

    SilverSpoon London

  2. Ahhhh Paris je t'aime! Living in France is SO dangerous when it comes to really good cakes and bread at every turn! I'm having to be very good in the run up to my holidays!

    Never been to the musée d'armée but I'd love to go.

    Lauren xx

  3. What a gorgeous day and I actually disagree with you, I love seeing you in your posts. You always look gorgeous - although the cake does look equally good!

    Glad you had a lovely time. Dan does indeed look exceptionally French!

    Katie <3

  4. Beautiful city and beautiful architecture. If they didn't all dress in grey and black it would be such a colourful place! I've been to Paris quite a few times but it is always somewhere I love to go back to. A slightly more sophisticated version of London? (Cue the intense Anglo-French rivalry...)

    Ben |

  5. I love Paris, actually France I am sure I was French in a previous life. Mainly for all the reasons you have taken pictures of, the cuisine, the patisserie and the architecture Lucy x


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