So, this week has been full of visits of all kinds. For two of my classes, History of Architecture and History of Paris, we had visits on Thursday and Friday that lasted 2-3 hours each. There was so much interesting information about the neighborhoods and churches, it's amazing what is right in everyone's back yard. For example, this wall is right next to a middle school. It is a large portion of the wall that Philippe Auguste built in the 12th century. There are only portions of it remaining here and there in Paris, so I thought it was fantastic that we visited a neighborhood that has quite a large remnant. Our history professor is awesome too! His classes are lecture type, but he uses no notes for anything; he literally...(thanks Chris Traeger, Parks & Rec) knows everything and he's been teaching at IES for over 30 years. We're so lucky to have him as our professor. You'll see a picture of him in a future post, don't worry.
Voila! Saturday, we visited Fontainebleau, which was a part-time royal residence for several royals. Napoleon was one of the most famous notables who called this place home. There is a pretty good museum inside with several rooms of clothing he and his wives wore, weaponry, gifts given to him, the children's' rooms and toys, etc... We didn't have time to visit much of the gardens, but that was okay. After Versailles, everything else seems like postage-stamp size anyway.
This is the grand staircase in front of Fontainebleau. Napoleon bid farewell to his troops and left for exile by descending these same stairs. I like that you can see these stairs have some centuries on them just by looking at them. Keeps things in perspective.
Also on Saturday, we visited Vaux-le-Vicomte, which was Nicholas Foquet's residence. Nicholas Foquet was Louis XIV's finance minister. He hosted a grand party here, invited the king and was shortly thereafter, jailed. Apparently, Louis XIV didn't think anyone in his employ should be this rich by honest means (and he was probably a bit jealous too because Foquet's residence was nicer than his. Whoops! This was before Versailles was built and as you can see from the picture below, this place was the inspiration for Versailles. Louis le Vau, who designed and constructed the gardens at Vaux-le-Vicomte, was also hired by Louis XIV to design and build the gardens at Versaille; on a much grander scale, of course.
You can't see it in this picture (and my camera phone died just as I walked up to it), but at the far end of the lawn in the thin stretch of grass, there is a huge statue of Hercules after he has completed his 11th task of stealing the golden apples. One of the staff told us we couldn't make it there in the time we had left, so you know, I had to take up that challenge. I gassed up my black cadillacs (boots) and force marched my way there in 30 minutes. Totally burned off the lunch we had just eaten. What you can't see is the sideways grand canal filled with water that stretches about a football field length to either side just before you start up the hill to the statue. And I'm happy to say my short, chubby butt was the first one to reach it! Hee hee!!
What!? Wait! How'd this guy get out? I was just walking around the Place de la Concorde and look who jumped out of my backpack. Steel-Troll cannot be held down! He was trying to coerce the Steel Rubber Ducky out of my backpack too, but I was able to hold him off, but I don't know, he might make an appearance soon too. Yikes!
Well, time to study. Mid-terms are next week and I have 5 of them in 4 days. Boy, that is going to be fun! Just a reminder of why we're actually here, I suppose. As I've been reviewing my notes, I realized just how much information, discussion, reading, etc...that we have done in so short a time. I'm really looking forward to the second half of the semester and more historical and architectural visits around Paris.
Au revoir, Mary