Posted by: vlibrizzi | April 11, 2009

Mom and Me in Paris

After returning from a great long weekend in Normandy on Monday, my mom and I spent the rest of the week  in Fontainebleau and in Paris. While I went to class in the afternoons, my mom visited many of the tourist sites of Paris, and then we would make our way back to Fontainebleau to have dinner. Here’s a run-down of our trip, but for those of you at home, you should talk to my mom about her experiences (and see all the photos we took!). I think she had a great time.

img_2324Tuesday– In the morning, we went to the Fontainebleau market. My mom loved walking through all the stalls and buying food for the week. We also visited the boulangerie and the fromagerie—two essential stops for any visit to France. I think we bought enough food to feed  a small army, but we couldn’t resist—everything looked so good! 
Then, while I was in class in the afternoon, my mom took the train from Paris to Versailles.  She didn’t have as much time as she would have liked, so she was only able to see the inside of the chateau, but it was pretty crummy outside (rainy and cold) so it was best to be inside that day. To the left is one of the photos she took of the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles. 

Later that night, we made chili together for the INSEAD America Week chili contest. Although it was made with a lot of love (and in our opinion, was the best of all), our chili only won 3rd place in the contest 😦

img_2329Wednesday–We woke up early to take a walk around the grounds of the Fontainebleau chateau, and then took a train into Paris so that we could have time to visit a chapel that my mom has been wanting to visit for many years, the Chapel of St. Catherine of Laboure. St. Catherine is the saint who in the late 1800s saw a vision of the Virgin Mary asking her to make the Miraculous Medal  (which my mom has worn around her neck every day since I can remember). We were able to see St. Catherine’s body (which was exhumed and is at the altar of the chapel) and picked up a few Miraculous Medal souvenirs for family back home. 

Then, while I was in class, my mom walked around the Rue de Bac and visited the Rodin Museum (which she says is the best museum she has EVER been to!). While she waited for me, she stopped in the Grand Epicerie in the Bon Marche and had a coffee while talking to the friendly waiter—she has become so French! 

Later that night, while C. and I celebrated Seder dinner with our Jewish friends at INSEAD, my mom got some rest at home and prepared for her marathon day of walking and sightseeing on Thursday…

img_2333Thursday–We went into Paris early to do some shopping :). Then, when I had to go to class, my mom walked from the Marais (where we were shopping) all the way to the Louvre (a pretty far distance!). Then she spent the afternoon in the Louvre (you can see us at the entrance to the Louvre in the photo to the left).

img_2335C. came into Paris in the evening so my mom and I met him after my class to walk  around the Marais and to visit one of my favorite (and also, one of the most famous) tea shops in Paris. You can see a photo of C. and me in front of the tea shop in the photo to the left. We also walked around the Beaubourg area and peeked into some small shops while enjoying the wonderful weather (notice, we’re not wearing jackets in the photo) and the throngs of people outside drinking at cafes. 


Then, when it got dark outside, the three of us went out for dinner in the 3rd arrondisement at another Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand restaurant. This one (photographed to the left) specializes in regional cuisine from Auvergne, France. We had really yummy fish and sausage and loved their mashed potatoes which were more like cheese-d potatoes! They were wonderful!

img_2338Friday—In the morning we went back to the Fontainebleau market to buy some fish since it was Good Friday. You can see my mom in the photo to the left, coming back from the market.

Once we left the market, we walked around Fontainebleau and did some shopping for little French trinkets. It was such a lovely day outside and we were having such a good time that we lost track of time…

img_2342So, we quickly we boarded a train for Paris and visited Sainte Chapelle together (you can see my mom posing in the chapel in the photo to the left). My mom and I were amazed by the sheer amount of stained glass in the church which was built by King Louis IX in the 1200s. The whole chapel is filled with small, very detailed stained glass panes depicting Biblical stories. It is truly a sight to see—especially on a sunny day! 

The church was built to house Louis IX’s prize relic that he bought from the then ruler of Byzantium: Christ’s crown of thorns. Apparently, the crown cost Louis IX three times more than it cost him to build the Saint Chapelle church which houses the crown!

img_2351Luckily for us, the crown is displayed only once a year—on Good Friday. So, we headed over to the Notre Dame (where the crown was being displayed for the day) in order to see it. 

We waited in a VERY long line that stretched from the altar, where three men from the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre were holding the crown on a pillow for people to kiss, to all the way outside the church! You can see the lines of people forming behind my mom in the photo to the left. 

img_2353Also luckily, while we were waiting in line, the Cardinal arrived to lead the people in attendance in the Stations of the Cross (or Le Chemin de la Croix in French). The best part about this particular Stations of the Cross was that it was conducted in three languages (French, English, and a rotating third language). With the Notre Dame choir, the organ, the many priests present, and Christ’s crown of thorns, it really was a spiritual experience for both of us! You can see in the photo above, if you look very closely, the crown of thorns being held by a man in a white robe. 

img_2356Later that evening, we had our last meal together in France. We had lovely salmon from the market, a great, fresh salad, and some French desserts from the patisserie..and, of course, a bottle of French wine! 

It was a whirlwind of a week…but a truly amazing and very spiritual week for all of us. I was so fortunate to be able to spend Holy Week with my mother here in France… it was such a treat for us both!


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