There’s lots to see in the Marais, an ancient, well preserved section of Paris.
As usual, I couldn’t take enough photos around Paris while I was there, especially of the architecture. It’s just so special.
We made a quick trip to Paris for the birthday party of Maurice’s fraternal twin grandchildren who have somehow become 19! How did this happen? I remember them when they were two which seems like it was just a few years ago. The party was at my daughter in law’s place which could be in a home decoration magazine.
If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you have already seen this photo. It’s a popular hors d’oeuvres that I’ve had twice now at a French party and I’ve seen it in French cooking magazines. It’s called a Soleil Gourmand. You buy two premade puff pastry sheets (they come round in France but I seem to remember they are rectangular in the States) Spread one with whatever you would like, pesto, parmesan cheese, chopped olives, some sesame seeds, maybe garlic salt. The contents need to be spread flat. I made it with chopped ham and it was too lumpy and the contents fell out as it was eaten but it was good. Spread contents almost to the edge. Wet the edge with water then put the other pastry sheet on top and seal the two together. At this point it might be a good idea to refrigerate it as it is a little difficult to handle as it warms up. Put a small glass in the center and cut “rays”, about sixteen of them, then twist each ray a few times. (You obviously now remove the glass). You can then brush the top with an egg wash and sprinkle with more sesame seeds. Then bake at 350 until brown about 15 minutes or so. Guests then pull off a piece to eat. I’ve also had this as a dessert made with Nutella. It’s a good buffet type dessert.
We have a friend who was on a group tour composed of French tourists somewhere in the Middle East. Our friend was talking to a couple and asked them where in France they lived and they told her Paris and a place on the Atlantic Coast near La Rochelle that she wouldn’t have heard of and she said, “It wouldn’t be Chatelaillon, would it?” They were really shocked because she was right. She sent us their names and contact information and we met and have had several meals with them. The husband is especially interesting. He has worked all over the world and has lots of fascinating stories. He and his wife explore this area when they are here much more than we have. He is always telling us of interesting places to visit around here. One of these was a quarry, called la Pierre de Crazannes, near a village called Crazannes less than an hour from our place. People have been getting stone from here for centuries. It is especially popular because it is pure limestone without fossils in it which is what those doing sculptures want and many builders. Since the advent of cement in 1948 the quarry shut down but they have a little museum there and take you on a tour to see it all. It was very fascinating.
A look at some of the huge blocks of stone left. They did it the old fashioned way, chisel groves in the shape they wanted, put in dry wedges, put linen on top and pour on water. As the wedges expanded, the stone would fall out of its place in the wall, be put on a wagon pulled by six oxen where the stone would be moved to the nearby Charentes River. It was hard labor and the average age expectancy was 52 years. Boys started working there when they were nine moving rubble and were doing work by the time they were 16. It paid more than farming. Also, many men went blind working on the white limestone in the sun for years.
The workers could only go down 18 meters as water was reached being near the river. It was a very tropical place as you can see-ferns all over the place.
We went for lunch to a nearby city called St Jean d’Angely where there was a church on the Camino de Santiago, the path followed by pilgrims walking through France to Spain.
As I said in an earlier post, I knew nothing about Nantes except its name on a highway sign. Like many places in France, it turned out to have a beautiful old section with pedestrian zones and very little traffic. You have to have a code to get your car into the area. Some of Nantes was destroyed by bombing in WWII but it has been beautifully restored. It was delightful to walk around.
Inside the beautiful Nantes Cathedral. This was on the tomb of the Duke of Brittany and his wife, the parents of Ann of Brittany who is highly regarded there. She was central to getting Brittany joined with France back in the 1400’s.
I was watching the morning news show a while ago and they showed a giant spider, about two stories high, coming down the street of a French city. I was intrigued and when I heard that this event took place in Nantes, a city about two hours away from us, I did some research and found we could see same spider and an enormous elephant as well. These creatures are at a place, an old abandoned ship yard, called Les Machines de l’Ile. The creator says these creations are a combination of Jules Verne and the mechanical drawings of Leonardo di Vinci. The place is enormous and you can see other creations, a workshop and, of course, the spider and the elephant. For four days in July the spider actually walked around Nantes, but we missed that.
Here’s the elephant. As you can see, people can ride it, which we did. It was much more exciting from the ground watching it as it moved and sprayed water from the trunk. It was a slow ride up on top but fun to see the expressions of people down below.
Videos I did while there: