Monday, June 20, 2011
"Iffy" Weather and Program Modifications
Since the arrival of the students last Thursday, the weather here has been partly to mostly cloudy with showers. This morning, it was really raining! We had planned mostly an outdoor day, but modified the agenda to include mostly indoor activities.
We started the day at the Pantheon, the monument and tomb to the great heroes of France--the great 18th-century philosophes Voltaire and Rousseau (whose tombs are located there) are obvious examples. The Pantheon also houses the tombs of Marie and Pierre Curie (great scientists) and writers (Emile Zola, who we have studied in the course, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas), Jean Moulin (a hero of the French Resistance), and important politicians (such as JeanJaurès and Jean Monnet). I'm including, at right, a photo of Jean Moulin, which is part of the exhibit on the Resistance at the Musée de l'Armée (a museum that we visited yesterday). Moulin was quite a dashing figure (very handsome) and the story of his heroic refusal to break under torture by the Nazis is legendary.
Some of these names are more known to Americans than others; I think our students will have a lasting memory of Emile Zola, since we have "run into him" at the Orsay, in the Montmartre cemetary and now again at the Pantheon!
Afterwards, we spent about 45 minutes at the Orangerie viewing the huge canvasses of Monet's Les Nymphéas--beautiful impressionist paintings of Monet's Japanese garden at Giverny (we'll see it in person in a couple of days).
Lunch today was quick street food--many of us had falafel pitas at L'As du Falafel (the best falafel in the world), whose bustling take-out window is located on the Rue des Rosiers in the Jewish quarter. Delicious.
Finally, we visited the Musée Nationale d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaïsme (the National Museum of Jewish Art and History) which houses a wonderful collection of European Jewish cultural and religious artifacts.
Dinner was Chinese food at a restaurant that Dr. King and I particularly like, Fong Lai, just around the corner from our hotel on the Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud--we highly recommend!
In sum, another fun and intellectually stimulating day with great examples of the wonderful international foods available in Paris!