I had a seriously jam-packed weekend this weekend, so I’ll probably be posting about it for the rest of this week to make up for the unexciting things I did today (ran, went to class, ate bread). My friend Nicole, who’s studying abroad in Lyon this semester, has been visiting for the past few days. She seriously came at the perfect time, because, as we realized, all of us Tulane kids here are settled enough that we no longer feel like we’re running around with our heads cut off (oh, that was just me?), but we still haven’t had time to do all the touristy stuff. So I got to spend this weekend doing just that! Lots of it. I loved it. These things are touristy for a reason, people. No shame in walking around clutching your camera and your Paris map book like you’ll die without them.
Not that I’ve done that every day for the past ten days or anything.
For starters, I paid some serious homage to both of my blog’s namesakes. That’s right–this weekend included some (very famous) Monets and some (even more famous) macaroons.
On Sunday, Nicole, her friend Galee (who goes to Tulane and who I am SO glad to have met because she lives near me in Paris and is super wonderful), and I went to the museum I have been most excited to visit: le musée d’Orsay!
This museum is located in an old train station, so it’s really beautiful and fun to walk around. It’s best known for housing the world’s largest collection of Impressionist works, so any of you who know me or, more specifically, have taken art history with me, know I was practically peeing my pants when I found out it was on our agenda for the day.
Unfortunately, photos were not allowed in the museum. I don’t know that I would have taken many, though…what’s the point? A. You can find a better visual of any of the paintings online, anyway, and B. I got weirdly selfish in that museum. I was sort of feeling like I’d been reunited with my long-lost love after finally seeing all this art I’ve obsessed over in person and was annoyed that there were all these tourists around ruining my special moment with Degas. Ugh. Glad I’m not one.
So, yeah, I wanted to keep the art all to myself. I was getting, like, awkwardly close to all the paintings. (If they weren’t glass-covered I probably would have been beaten to death by a curator or something). It was just so surreal to see all these works in person, to know that Monet actually stood in front of that canvas, that Seurat actually made those meticulous little dots, that if I turn my head at just the right angle, I can see the texture of Renoir’s brushstrokes. It felt so tangible. I could actually imagine the artists as real people. (No idea what I thought of them as before if I didn’t think of them as real people, though….) I felt like I was dreaming.
Okay, art nerd freakout over. It was wonderful. The best part is, as a student at a French university, I can always get into the museum for free! I’ll be back, often.
In keeping with my newly-coined tradition, I snapped an illegal photo.
Anyway. We did a lot more that day and over the whole weekend, but I’m going to skip ahead to the macaroons and come back to the other stuff later. We all know that’s what I was most excited about anyway.
Sunday, we went here.
This place belongs in the hallowed ranks of Kensington Whole Foods and the Harrods Food Halls. You know that means I loved it…too much.
Ladurée produces what must be the most well-known macaroons in the world. (Although their old head pastry chef left and opened his own patisserie, which is supposed to give Ladurée quite the run for its money…scandalous!) Anyway, I knew it was good because in an episode of Gossip Girl, it is revealed that Blair Waldorf’s favorite macaroons are from Ladurée. And we all know she has impeccable taste. Also, someone told me that Ladurée did the pastries for Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette. And where else am I going to take my cues if not from pop culture?!
When in France…live as Marie-Antoinette did. Just don’t die like her.
We had to wait in a long line, but OF COURSE it was worth it. Although Galee and I were sad to learn that you couldn’t get their hot chocolate (which is supposed to be excellent) to go. Oh well. I got this.
That, my friends, is un macaron caramel à la fleur de sel. Or, you know, a macaroon of the salted caramel variety.
It. Was. Heaven.
This was honestly the best macaroon I’ve ever had. The two of us definitely had a moment on the Champs Elysées.
(Yeah, we went to the one on the Champs Elysées, but I’m dying to go to what I’m pretty sure is the original on Rue Royale. I think the interior hasn’t been changed since shortly after it opened in the 19th century. Imagine the gorgeous. While the one we went to was designed similarly and feels charming and sumptuous, it’s not authentic.)
I do, however, have a dirty little secret to share. I also had a chocolate macaroon (or, if you want to be technical about it, chocolat pure origine de Chuao). This macaroon was good. Very good. But here’s the thing…it was no better or worse than any other very good macaroon I’ve had in my life. Sad, but true. And here’s where the secret gets dirtier. My friend Fabienne’s mom (who, if you know her, is just as chic as Fabienne, I would totally trust her to know these things) heard that Ladurée actually freezes their macaroons after making them so they can keep up with customer demand. And you know what? The delightful chocolate filling was suspiciously cold. Hmmmm. Worth thinking about.
In any case, I wasn’t lying when I said that the salted caramel one would absolutely abolish any other macaroon I’ve ever had in a taste test. So my advice is, if you find yourself in Paris, get 127 of those. You’ll die. And then you’ll be sad, because dead people can’t go to Ladurée.
I’ll be back soon with more tales from the weekend…but until then, watch this. Ladurée is another place where pictures are not allowed. Weird, I know. So this will help you visualize the perfection. Warning: You might drool, protect your keyboard.