Today we will be taking another trip to Europe. This time we will be visiting Paris, France.
Paris City Information
Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,165,423 residents in 2019 in an area of more than 105 km² (41 sq mi), making it the 30th most densely populated city in the world in 2020. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of the world's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, gastronomy, and science. For its leading role in the arts and sciences, as well as its very early system of street lighting, in the 19th century, it became known as "the City of Light". Like London, prior to the Second World War, it was also sometimes called the capital of the world. The City of Paris is the centre of the Île-de-France region, or Paris Region, with an estimated population of 12,262,544 in 2019, or about 19% of the population of France, making the region France's primate city. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living Survey, in 2022, Paris was the city with the ninth-highest cost of living in the world.
Paris is a major railway, highway, and air-transport hub served by two international airports: Paris–Charles de Gaulle (the second-busiest airport in Europe) and Paris–Orly. Opened in 1900, the city's subway system, the Paris Métro, serves 5.23 million passengers daily; it is the second-busiest metro system in Europe after the Moscow Metro. Gare du Nord is the 24th-busiest railway station in the world and the busiest located outside Japan, with 262 million passengers in 2015. Paris is especially known for its museums and architectural landmarks: the Louvre received 2.8 million visitors in 2021, despite the long museum closings caused by the COVID-19 virus. The Musée d'Orsay, Musée Marmottan Monet and Musée de l'Orangerie are noted for their collections of French Impressionist art. The Pompidou Centre Musée National d'Art Moderne has the largest collection of modern and contemporary art in Europe and Musée Rodin and Musée Picasso. The historical district along the Seine in the city centre has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991; popular landmarks there include the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris on the Île de la Cité, now closed for renovation after the 15 April 2019 fire. Other popular tourist sites include the Gothic royal chapel of Sainte-Chapelle, also on the Île de la Cité; the Eiffel Tower, constructed for the Paris Universal Exposition of 1889; the Grand Palais and Petit Palais, built for the Paris Universal Exposition of 1900; the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Élysées, and the hill of Montmartre with its artistic history and its Basilica of Sacré-Coeur.
Paris hosts several United Nations organisations including UNESCO, and other international organisations such as the OECD, the OECD Development Centre, the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, the International Energy Agency, the International Federation for Human Rights, along with European bodies such as the European Space Agency, the European Banking Authority or the European Securities and Markets Authority. The football club Paris Saint-Germain and the rugby union club Stade Français are based in Paris. The 80,000-seat Stade de France, built for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, is located just north of Paris in the neighbouring commune of Saint-Denis. Paris hosts the annual French Open Grand Slam tennis tournament on the red clay of Roland Garros. The city hosted the Olympic Games in 1900, and 1924 and will host the 2024 Summer Olympics. The 1938 and 1998 FIFA World Cups, the 2007 Rugby World Cup, as well as 1960, 1984 and 2016 UEFA European Championships were also held in the city. Every July, the Tour de France bicycle race finishes on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris.
Paris Historical Significance
The Parisii, a sub-tribe of the Celtic Senones, inhabited the Paris area from around the middle of the 3rd century BC. One of the area's major north-south trade routes crossed the Seine on the île de la Cité; this meeting place of land and water trade routes gradually became an important trading centre. The Parisii traded with many river towns (some as far away as the Iberian Peninsula) and minted their own coins for that purpose. The Romans conquered the Paris Basin in 52 BC and began their settlement on Paris's Left Bank. The Roman town was originally called Lutetia (more fully, Lutetia Parisiorum, "Lutetia of the Parisii", modern French Lutèce). It became a prosperous city with a forum, baths, temples, theatres, and an amphitheatre.
By the end of the Western Roman Empire, the town was known as Parisius, a Latin name that would later become Paris in French. Christianity was introduced in the middle of the 3rd century AD by Saint Denis, the first Bishop of Paris: according to legend, when he refused to renounce his faith before the Roman occupiers, he was beheaded on the hill which became known as Mons Martyrum (Latin "Hill of Martyrs"), later "Montmartre", from where he walked headless to the north of the city; the place where he fell and was buried became an important religious shrine, the Basilica of Saint-Denis, and many French kings are buried there.
Clovis the Frank, the first king of the Merovingian dynasty, made the city his capital from 508. As the Frankish domination of Gaul began, there was a gradual immigration by the Franks to Paris and the Parisian Francien dialects were born. Fortification of the Île de la Cité failed to avert the sacking by Vikings in 845, but Paris's strategic importance—with its bridges preventing ships from passing—was established by the successful defence in the Siege of Paris (885–886), for which the then Count of Paris (Comte de Paris), Odo of France, was elected king of West Francia. From the Capetian dynasty that began with the 987 elections of Hugh Capet, Count of Paris and Duke of the Franks (Duc des Francs), as king of a unified West Francia, Paris gradually became the largest and most prosperous city in France. By the end of the 12th century, Paris had become the political, economic, religious, and cultural capital of France. The Palais de la Cité, the royal residence, was located at the western end of the Île de la Cité. In 1163, during the reign of Louis VII, Maurice de Sully, bishop of Paris, undertook the construction of the Notre Dame Cathedral at its eastern extremity.
After the marshland between the river Seine and its slower 'dead arm' to its north was filled in from around the 10th century, Paris's cultural centre began to move to the Right Bank. In 1137, a new city marketplace (today's Les Halles) replaced the two smaller ones on the Île de la Cité and Place de Grève (Place de l'Hôtel de Ville). The latter location housed the headquarters of Paris's river trade corporation, an organization that later became, unofficially (although formally in later years), Paris's first municipal government. In the late 12th century, Philip Augustus extended the Louvre fortress to defend the city against river invasions from the west, gave the city its first walls between 1190 and 1215, rebuilt its bridges to either side of its central island, and paved its main thoroughfares. In 1190, he transformed Paris's former cathedral school into a student-teacher corporation that would become the University of Paris and would draw students from all of Europe. With 200,000 inhabitants in 1328, Paris, then already the capital of France, was the most populous city of Europe. By comparison, London in 1300 had 80,000 inhabitants.
By the early fourteenth century so much filth had collected inside urban Europe that French and Italian cities were naming streets after human waste. In medieval Paris, several street names were inspired by merde, the French word for “shit.” There were rue Merdeux, rue Merdelet, rue Merdusson, rue des Merdons, and rue Merdiere—as well as a rue du Pipi. During the Hundred Years' War, Paris was occupied by England-friendly Burgundian forces from 1418, before being occupied outright by the English when Henry V of England entered the French capital in 1420; in spite of a 1429 effort by Joan of Arc to liberate the city, it would remain under English occupation until 1436. In the late 16th-century French Wars of Religion, Paris was a stronghold of the Catholic League, the organizers of 24 August 1572 St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in which thousands of French Protestants were killed. The conflicts ended when the pretender to the throne Henry IV, after converting to Catholicism to gain entry to the capital, entered the city in 1594 to claim the crown of France. This king made several improvements to the capital during his reign: he completed the construction of Paris's first uncovered, sidewalk-lined bridge, the Pont Neuf, built a Louvre extension connecting it to the Tuileries Palace, and created the first Paris residential square, the Place Royale, now Place des Vosges. In spite of Henry IV's efforts to improve city circulation, the narrowness of Paris's streets was a contributing factor in his assassination near Les Halles marketplace in 1610.
During the 17th century, Cardinal Richelieu, chief minister of Louis XIII, was determined to make Paris the most beautiful city in Europe. He built five new bridges, a new chapel for the College of Sorbonne, and a palace for himself, the Palais-Cardinal, which he bequeathed to Louis XIII. After Richelieu's death in 1642, it was renamed the Palais-Royal. Due to the Parisian uprisings during the Fronde civil war, Louis XIV moved his court to a new palace, Versailles, in 1682. Although no longer the capital of France, arts and sciences in the city flourished with the Comédie-Française, the Academy of Painting, and the French Academy of Sciences. To demonstrate that the city was safe from attack, the king had the city walls demolished and replaced with tree-lined boulevards that would become the Grands Boulevards of today. Other marks of his reign were the Collège des Quatre-Nations, the Place Vendôme, the Place des Victoires, and Les Invalides.
Paris grew in population from about 400,000 in 1640 to 650,000 in 1780. A new boulevard, the Champs-Élysées, extended the city west to Étoile, while the working-class neighbourhood of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine on the eastern side of the city grew more and more crowded with poor migrant workers from other regions of France. Paris was the centre of an explosion of philosophic and scientific activity known as the Age of Enlightenment. Diderot and d'Alembert published their Encyclopédie in 1751, and the Montgolfier Brothers launched the first manned flight in a hot-air balloon on 21 November 1783, from the gardens of the Château de la Muette. Paris was the financial capital of continental Europe, the primary European centre of book publishing and fashion and the manufacture of fine furniture and luxury goods.
In the summer of 1789, Paris became the centre stage of the French Revolution. On 14 July, a mob seized the arsenal at the Invalides, acquiring thousands of guns, and stormed the Bastille, a symbol of royal authority. The first independent Paris Commune, or city council, met in the Hôtel de Ville and, on 15 July, elected a Mayor, the astronomer Jean Sylvain Bailly. Louis XVI and the royal family were brought to Paris and made prisoners within the Tuileries Palace. In 1793, as the revolution turned more and more radical, the king, queen, and mayor were guillotined (executed) in the Reign of Terror, along with more than 16,000 others throughout France. The property of the aristocracy and the church was nationalized, and the city's churches were closed, sold or demolished. A succession of revolutionary factions ruled Paris until 9 November 1799 (coup d'état du 18 Brumaire), when Napoléon Bonaparte seized power as First Consul.
The population of Paris had dropped by 100,000 during the Revolution, but between 1799 and 1815, it surged with 160,000 new residents, reaching 660,000. Napoleon Bonaparte replaced the elected government of Paris with a prefect reporting only to him. He began erecting monuments to military glory, including the Arc de Triomphe and improved the neglected infrastructure of the city with new fountains, the Canal de l'Ourcq, Père Lachaise Cemetery and the city's first metal bridge, the Pont des Arts. During the Restoration, the bridges and squares of Paris were returned to their pre-Revolution names; the July Revolution in 1830 (commemorated by the July Column on the Place de la Bastille) brought a constitutional monarch, Louis Philippe I, to power. The first railway line to Paris opened in 1837, beginning a new period of massive migration from the provinces to the city. Louis-Philippe was overthrown by a popular uprising in the streets of Paris in 1848. His successor, Napoleon III, alongside the newly appointed prefect of the Seine, Georges-Eugène Haussmann, launched a gigantic public works project to build wide new boulevards, a new opera house, a central market, new aqueducts, sewers and parks, including the Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes. In 1860, Napoleon III also annexed the surrounding towns and created eight new arrondissements, expanding Paris to its current limits.
During the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871), Paris was besieged by the Prussian Army. After months of blockade, hunger, and then bombardment by the Prussians, the city was forced to surrender on 28 January 1871. On 28 March, a revolutionary government called the Paris Commune seized power in Paris. The Commune held power for two months, until it was harshly suppressed by the French army during the "Bloody Week" at the end of May 1871. Late in the 19th century, Paris hosted two major international expositions: the 1889 Universal Exposition, was held to mark the centennial of the French Revolution and featured the new Eiffel Tower; and the 1900 Universal Exposition, which gave Paris the Pont Alexandre III, the Grand Palais, the Petit Palais and the first Paris Métro line. Paris became the laboratory of Naturalism (Émile Zola) and Symbolism (Charles Baudelaire and Paul Verlaine), and of Impressionism in art (Courbet, Manet, Monet, Renoir). By 1901, the population of Paris had grown to about 2,715,000. At the beginning of the century, artists from around the world including Pablo Picasso, Modigliani, and Henri Matisse made Paris their home. It was the birthplace of Fauvism, Cubism and abstract art, and authors such as Marcel Proust were exploring new approaches to literature.
During the First World War, Paris sometimes found itself on the front line; 600 to 1,000 Paris taxis played a small but highly important symbolic role in transporting 6,000 soldiers to the front line at the First Battle of the Marne. The city was also bombed by Zeppelins and shelled by German long-range guns. In the years after the war, known as Les Années Folles, Paris continued to be a mecca for writers, musicians and artists from around the world, including Ernest Hemingway, Igor Stravinsky, James Joyce, Josephine Baker, Eva Kotchever, Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, Sidney Bechet Allen Ginsberg and the surrealist Salvador Dalí. In the years after the peace conference, the city was also home to growing numbers of students and activists from French colonies and other Asian and African countries, who later became leaders of their countries, such as Ho Chi Minh, Zhou Enlai and Léopold Sédar Senghor.
On 14 June 1940, the German army marched into Paris, which had been declared an "open city". On 16–17 July 1942, following German orders, the French police and gendarmes arrested 12,884 Jews, including 4,115 children, and confined them for five days at the Vel d'Hiv (Vélodrome d'Hiver), from which they were transported by train to the extermination camp at Auschwitz. None of the children came back. On 25 August 1944, the city was liberated by the French 2nd Armoured Division and the 4th Infantry Division of the United States Army. General Charles de Gaulle led a huge and emotional crowd down the Champs Élysées towards Notre Dame de Paris, and made a rousing speech from the Hôtel de Ville. In the 1950s and the 1960s, Paris became one front of the Algerian War for independence; in August 1961, the pro-independence FLN targeted and killed 11 Paris policemen, leading to the imposition of a curfew on Muslims of Algeria (who, at that time, were French citizens). On 17 October 1961, an unauthorised but peaceful protest demonstration of Algerians against the curfew led to violent confrontations between the police and demonstrators, in which at least 40 people were killed, including some thrown into the Seine. The anti-independence Organisation armée secrète (OAS), for their part, carried out a series of bombings in Paris throughout 1961 and 1962.
In May 1968, protesting students occupied the Sorbonne and put up barricades in the Latin Quarter. Thousands of Parisian blue-collar workers joined the students, and the movement grew into a two-week general strike. Supporters of the government won the June elections by a large majority. The May 1968 events in France resulted in the break-up of the University of Paris into 13 independent campuses. In 1975, the National Assembly changed the status of Paris to that of other French cities and, on 25 March 1977, Jacques Chirac became the first elected mayor of Paris since 1793. The Tour Maine-Montparnasse, the tallest building in the city at 57 storeys and 210 metres (689 feet) high, was built between 1969 and 1973. It was highly controversial, and it remains the only building in the centre of the city over 32 storeys high. The population of Paris dropped from 2,850,000 in 1954 to 2,152,000 in 1990, as middle-class families moved to the suburbs. A suburban railway network, the RER (Réseau Express Régional), was built to complement the Métro; the Périphérique expressway encircling the city, was completed in 1973.
Most of the postwar presidents of the Fifth Republic wanted to leave their own monuments in Paris; President Georges Pompidou started the Centre Georges Pompidou (1977), Valéry Giscard d'Estaing began the Musée d'Orsay (1986); President François Mitterrand, in power for 14 years, had the Opéra Bastille built (1985–1989), the new site of the Bibliothèque nationale de France (1996), the Arche de la Défense (1985–1989) in La Défense, as well as the Louvre Pyramid with its underground courtyard (1983–1989); Jacques Chirac (2006), the Musée du quai Branly. In the early 21st century, the population of Paris began to increase slowly again, as more young people moved into the city. It reached 2.25 million in 2011. In March 2001, Bertrand Delanoë became the first Socialist Mayor of Paris. In 2007, in an effort to reduce car traffic in the city, he introduced the Vélib', a system which rents bicycles for the use of local residents and visitors. Bertrand Delanoë also transformed a section of the highway along the Left Bank of the Seine into an urban promenade and park, the Promenade des Berges de la Seine, which he inaugurated in June 2013.
In 2007, President Nicolas Sarkozy launched the Grand Paris project, to integrate Paris more closely with the towns in the region around it. After many modifications, the new area, named the Metropolis of Grand Paris, with a population of 6.7 million, was created on 1 January 2016. In 2011, the City of Paris and the national government approved the plans for the Grand Paris Express, totaling 205 kilometres (127 miles) of automated metro lines to connect Paris, the innermost three departments around Paris, airports and high-speed rail (TGV) stations, at an estimated cost of €35 billion. The system is scheduled to be completed by 2030. In January 2015, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed attacks across the Paris region. 1.5 million people marched in Paris in a show of solidarity against terrorism and in support of freedom of speech. In November of the same year, terrorist attacks, claimed by ISIL, killed 130 people and injured more than 350.
Travel to Paris
*taken from Lonely Planet*
Paris' monument-lined boulevards, museums, classical bistros and boutiques are enhanced by a new wave of multimedia galleries, creative wine bars, design shops and tech start-ups.
The cloud-piercing, wrought-iron Eiffel Tower, broad Arc de Triomphe guarding the glamorous avenue des Champs-Élysées, flying buttressed Notre Dame cathedral, lamplit bridges spanning the Seine and art nouveau cafes' wicker-chair-lined terraces are enduring Parisian emblems. Despite initial appearances, however, Paris’ cityscape isn’t static: there are some stunning modern and contemporary icons, too, from the inside-out, industrial-style Centre Pompidou to the mur végétal (vertical garden) gracing the Musée du Quai Branly, the glass sails of the Fondation Louis Vuitton contemporary-art centre, and the gleaming steel egg-shaped concert venue La Seine Musicale.
France’s reputation for its cuisine (the French word for ‘kitchen’) precedes it, and whether you seek a cosy neighbourhood bistro or a triple-Michelin-starred temple to gastronomy, you'll find that every establishment prides itself on exquisite preparation and presentation of quality produce, invariably served with wine. Enticing patisseries, boulangeries (bakeries), fromageries (cheese shops) and crowded, colourful street markets are perfect for putting together a picnic to take to the city’s beautiful parks and gardens. A host of culinary courses – held anywhere from home kitchens to the world’s most prestigious cookery schools – offers instruction for all schedules, abilities and budgets.
The word 'Parisian' is synonymous with style, and fashion shopping is the city’s forte. Paris remains at the forefront of international trends, and browsing emerging and established designer boutiques and flagship haute couture houses is a quintessential part of any visit. You’ll also find hip concept and homewares shops, and resplendent art nouveau department stores, along with a trove of vintage shops and flea markets, atmospheric bookshops and dark-green bouquiniste stalls stocking secondhand titles along the riverbanks, adorable children’s wear and toy shops, art and antique dealers, venerable establishments selling professional cookware, and, of course, gourmet-food and wine shops galore.
With an illustrious artistic pedigree – Renoir, Rodin, Picasso, Monet, Manet, Dalí and Van Gogh are but a few of the masters who have lived and worked here over the years – Paris is one of the world's great art repositories, harbouring treasures from antiquity onwards. In addition to big hitters like the incomparable Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay’s exceptional impressionist collection, and the Centre Pompidou’s cache of modern and contemporary art, scores of smaller museums showcase every imaginable genre, a diverse range of venues mount major exhibitions through to offbeat installations, and there's also the city's vibrant street art.
Must See Sites
Musée Rodin; Sculptor, painter, sketcher, engraver and collector Auguste Rodin donated his entire collection to the French state in 1908 on the proviso that it dedicate his former workshop and showroom, the beautiful 1730 Hôtel Biron, to displaying his works. This is where he lived and worked while in Paris. Rodin's artwork is not only installed in the mansion itself, but also on its rose-filled garden—one of the most peaceful places in central Paris.
Panthéon; Elegant and regal in equal measure, the massive neoclassical dome of the Left Bank's iconic Panthéon is an icon of the Parisian skyline. Louis XV originally commissioned the vast architectural masterpiece around 1750 as an abbey dedicated to Ste Geneviève in thanksgiving for his recovery from an illness. Due to financial and structural problems, it wasn’t completed until 1789. In 1791, the abbey was converted into a mausoleum for some of France’s most illustrious citizens, modeled after the Pantheon in Rome. A copy of Foucault's pendulum, first hung from the dome in 1851 to demonstrate the rotation of the earth, takes pride of place. Until the Eiffel Tower was completed in 1889, the Panthéon was the highest building in Paris.
Musée d’Orsay; Musée d’Orsay may not be quite as famous as the Louvre—though it’s located a mere 10-minute walk away—but this Left Bank museum holds its own in its collection of artistic wonders. The museum is famous for holding the world’s largest collection of impressionist and postimpressionist art.
Jardin du Luxembourg; This famous inner-city oasis of formal terraces, chestnut groves and lush lawns has a special place in Parisians' hearts. Napoléon dedicated the 23 gracefully laid-out hectares of the Luxembourg Gardens to the children of Paris, and many residents spent their childhood prodding 1920s wooden sailboats with long sticks on the octagonal Grand Bassin pond, watching puppets perform puppet shows at the Théâtre du Luxembourg and riding the carrousel (merry-go-round) or ponies. All those activities are still here today, as are modern playgrounds and sporting and games venues. Dozens of apple varieties grow in the orchards in the gardens’ south, while bees have produced honey in the nearby Rucher du Luxembourg since the 19th century; the two-day Fête du Miel (Honey Festival) takes place in late September. Around the back of the Musée du Luxembourg, lemon and orange trees, palms, grenadiers and oleanders shelter from the cold in the palace’s orangery.
Basilique du Sacré-Cœur; Begun in 1875 in the wake of the Franco-Prussian War and the chaos of the Paris Commune, Sacré-Cœur is a symbol of the former struggle between the conservative Catholic old guard and the secular, republican radicals. It was finally consecrated in 1919, standing in contrast to the bohemian lifestyle that surrounded it. The view over Paris from its parvis is breathtaking. Avoid walking up the steep hill by using a regular metro ticket aboard the funicular to the upper station. Some 300 spiralling steps lead you to the basilica’s dome, which affords one of Paris’ most spectacular panoramas – it's said you can see up to 30km on a clear day. Weighing in at 19 tonnes, the bell called La Savoyarde in the tower above is the largest in France. The chapel-lined crypt is closed indefinitely to the public. On Sundays, you can catch the organ being played during Mass and Vespers. Visiting Sacré-Cœur is a veritable experience, from the musicians performing on the steps to the groups picnickers on the hillside park. Watch out for touts and pickpockets, however, who often work the crowds.
Eiffel Tower; There are different ways to experience the Eiffel Tower, from a daytime trip or an evening ascent amid twinkling lights, to a meal in one of its restaurants. And even though some seven million people come annually, few would dispute that each visit is unique – and something that simply has to be done when in Paris. Named after its designer, Gustave Eiffel, the Tour Eiffel was built for the 1889 Exposition Universelle (World's Fair). It took 300 workers, 2.5 million rivets and two years of nonstop labor to assemble. Upon completion, the tower became the tallest human-made structure in the world (324m) – a record held until the 1930 completion of New York's Chrysler Building. A symbol of the modern age, it faced opposition from Paris’ artistic and literary elite, and the ‘metal asparagus’, as some snidely called it, was originally slated to be torn down in 1909. It was spared only because it proved an ideal platform for the transmitting antennas needed for the newfangled science of radiotelegraphy. Sporting six different colors throughout its lifetime, the tower has been painted red and bronze since 1968. Work is underway to strip the previous 19 coats and apply the yellow-brown shade originally conceived by Gustave Eiffel, giving it a new golden hue in time for the 2024 Olympics.
Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris; While its interior is closed off to visitors following the devastating fire of April 2019, this masterpiece of French Gothic architecture remains the city’s geographic and spiritual heart. Its grand exterior, with its two enduring towers and flying buttresses, is rightly still an alluring attraction to countless visitors.
Must Try Food & Drink
Croque-Monsieur; According to Larousse, this classic French hot sandwich consists of a thin slice of ham and melted cheese tucked between two pieces of sliced bread. The original first appeared on Parisian menus in 1910, and some claim it was invented by accident, when French workers left their lunch near a hot radiator, only to come back later and discover that the cheese in their sandwiches had melted. If you want to taste an authentic croque, the cheese must be Gruyere (mixed with bechamel in order to get Mornay sauce) and the whole sandwich needs to be sautéed in butter until it is crispy and golden brown. The croque-monsieur is so popular that the famous novelist Proust even wrote about it in his 1918 masterpiece In Search of Lost Time. According to food historians, the sandwich was originally named by Michel Lunarca, the owner of a popular bistro on the Boulevard des Capucines in the early 20th-century Paris. Frustrated by his success, Lunarca's competitors began spreading rumors that he was a cannibal. When he ran out of baguettes for sandwiches one day, he used a loaf of pain de mie to make a toasted sandwich with cheese and bread. Upon being asked by a guest what kind of meat he used for the sandwich, he replied "Le viande de monsieur, évidemment."—meaning—"Human meat, obviously." The joke made these sandwiches an instant hit, and he put them on the menu under the name they are known by today. For those who think everything tastes better with eggs, there is the croque-madame, a popular version of croque-monsieur topped with a fried egg, which, according to some people, represents a woman's hat.
Paris-Brest; Created in 1910 by chef Louis Durand to celebrate the famous Paris-Brest-Paris bicycle race, which led from the center of Paris past the door of his pastry shop in Maisons-Laffitte to Brittany and back, this decadent dessert is a true French classic found in pâtisseries all over the country. With a shape resembling that of a bicycle wheel, Paris-Brest is made with a ring of pâte à choux – a puffy hollow pastry traditionally flavored with fleur de sel, topped with flaked almonds, and baked until golden brown. The airy pastry ring is then sliced horizontally and filled with a rich hazelnut and almond mousseline praliné cream, while the upper crust is generously dusted with powdered sugar. Regardless of the numerous creative interpretations and modern takes on this classic recipe, the perfect Paris-Brest should always be dominated by the toasted nutty flavor and aroma of praline cream.
Jambon-beurre; Although the combination of ham and butter on a baguette may seem simple, the jambon-beurre (ham-butter) sandwich is an iconic staple of Parisian gastronomy. More than a billion of these sandwiches were sold in France in 2013 alone, making it one of the most popular snacks in the country. The secret is in using only the finest baguettes and the best ham and butter. Thanks to jambon-beurre, France is the only country in the world where a sandwich can match or even surpass the sale of hamburgers.
Death in the Afternoon; A decadent cocktail made with absinthe and champagne is known as Death in the Afternoon. Thanks to its inventor - Ernest Hemingway, it is often referred to as the Hemingway Champagne, or simply The Hemingway. The cocktail originates from 1930's Paris, when the writer spent time in the city writing and enjoying absinthe. Due to the emulsification of absinthe, the cocktail is milky in appearance, with a bubbly structure, and Hemingway’s instructions were to drink three to five of these cocktails slowly from a champagne glass.
Between the Sheets; Between the Sheets is a cocktail made with lemon juice and equal parts cognac, rum, and Cointreau. The ingredients are shaken with ice, and then strained into a chilled cocktail glass. It is believed that this variation on the Sidecar was invented in the early 1930s at Harry's New York Bar in Paris, and the first version called for just a dab of lemon, resulting in a drink that was too sweet and too strong, but over time, the recipe changed and fresh lemon juice is now the standard. Other theories about its invention also exist – one claims that it was first prepared at The Berkeley in 1921, and another one says it was first made for prostitutes in French brothels.
Soupe à l’oignon; Even though it originated as a humble peasant dish, French onion soup is nowadays regarded as one of the most prized dishes of French cuisine. The broth is simple, made merely with caramelized onions and meat stock. However, the soup is distinguished by croûtes–pieces of crispy baked bread that are placed on top of the soup and are then generously covered with cheese. The assembled dish is finished in the oven, allowing the cheese to melt while the top turns into a golden crust. French onion soup is a dish with a rich history and a very long tradition. The onions have been used since the Roman times, and a similar soup has been known since the Middle Ages. This French classic has been changed through history, establishing its final form in the 17th century. It was primarily known as a simple and hearty traditional dish, but in the 1960s, when French cuisine started to grow in popularity around the world, onion soup became one of its most famous representatives. Today, it can be found in almost every traditional French restaurant, where it is usually served as a starter.
Escargot; Escargot, or cooked snails, are a beloved French delicacy that is usually served as an appetizer. Before preparation, the snails must be purged, removed from their shells, and cooked, usually with garlic butter, chicken stock, or wine. Their tender texture and clean, woody flavors pair especially nicely with herb-infused butter - garlic, thyme, and parsley are the most common choices. Cooked escargots can be served on toasted pieces of baguette, but they are more commonly placed back into their shells and served on an escargot plate. In that case, special snail tongs are needed to hold the shell while extracting the meat with a two-pronged snail fork.
Macarons; These small, round, sweet meringue-based cookie sandwiches with filling in the middle are light and crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle. Macarons, which first appeared in Italy in 1533 (albeit without the filling), got their name from the Italian word maccherone, which means fine dough. They were originally made for the marriage of the Duke of Orléans, who later became King Henry II of France. Food historians credit Pierre Desfontaines as the inventor of the macaron. He was the first to fill the cookies with a creamy ganache and stick them together, turning the humble almond cookie into the versatile treat we know today. Macarons are the most popular type of cookie in Paris, but they are popular throughout the rest of the world as well, and they appear with different fillings and in various sizes, colors, and flavors.
Galette de Bretagne; Galettes de Bretagne are basically thin crépes from the Brittany region in northwestern France. These pancakes are made from buckwheat flour, then filled with various ingredients such as eggs, ham, mushrooms, and bacon. In Brittany, créperies are so popular that they outnumber cafés, and people regularly use them to consume their galettes with bits of salted butter. Traditionally, the pancakes are paired with a glass of local cider. According to a legend, the Bretagne galette was invented by accident, when a farmer spilled buckwheat porridge on a hot surface. Although people usually associate buckwheat flour with a salty taste, buckwheat crépes are extremely nutritious and contain vitamins B1, B2, and fiber that helps in preventing high blood pressure. Buckwheat came to Brittany from the east in the 12th century, so thick, moist, and flavorful galletes were ready to win over even the pickiest palates.
Quiche; This popular French pie consists of a pastry crust filled with eggs, cream, and anything from bacon, cheese, and leek to mushrooms and seafood. Quiche is usually very filling and high in calories, making it a frequent choice for parties and buffet tables. It can be served either hot or cold, and is traditionally cut into slices. Numerous varieties of quiches exist today, the most popular of which are quiche Lorraine, quiche Florentine, and quiche Provençale.
Hope you enjoyed today's post.
Few things I want to mention, I will be putting new Desktop wallpapers out for 2023. I am looking into other things that I could make for downloadable things. Also, I am considering restructuring my categories for blog posts so some things may change.