Happy Valentine’s Day! In order to not sit around pouting about spending Valentine’s Day away from Julian for the first time in four years, I decided to get out and do something nice, and happily, the Dauphine Erasmus club had put together a visit to the Latin Quarter, similar to when we went to walk around Montmartre. I woke up to rain, which worried me, but the rain wasn’t too heavy so I was sure it would still be on. Valentine’s day happens to be my Brazilian friend Luisa’s birthday, so she asked me if I wanted to have lunch with her before the visit. We met up, and walked to a small burger restaurant we had heard about called Blend. It was indeed very small, so we had to share a table with a pair of guys we didn’t know, but it was no big deal. We checked out the menu, and the burgers looked really good. It was a little pricey since it is a “gourmet” hamburger restaurant, and a side of fries was an extra €4, and I was dying of thirst so I got a coke instead. They have a lunch formula of a burger, fries and a drink for €15, but only on weekdays. When they came, the burgers definitely looked delicious, and they use local beef and handmade buns.
I scarfed mine, and my coke, which I usually don’t even drink, and even some water. The burger was really yummy, a little small for €10 with no sides, but still, really good! I paid for Luisa’s too since it was her birthday, and we made our way back out into the sprinkling rain to make our way to the meeting place for the Latin Quarter tour.
We walked a short ways to the metro stop “Cité” right on time, and no one there.. Very worrisome. We checked Facebook, and sure enough, the Erasmus club had cancelled the event, and we were apparently the only ones who didn’t get the memo. I really didn’t think they would cancel it, as it was barely raining, so Luisa and I decided that since we were already here, we would do our own tour of the famous 5th arrondissement.
We started by walking by one of my favorite buildings in Paris, Notre Dame. It was much busier than the last time I went there, and the weather was much better, although still cold.
Here is Luisa and I in front of Notre Dame!
We didn’t go inside due to the crowd, and we started walking towards the Sorbonne University. It’s called the Latin Quarter because there are many universities in the area, and historically the classes were all taught in Latin, and this area was one of the intellectual centers of Paris in it’s heyday. This area is known for its student life, bistros, bars, and charming cobble stone streets and architecture.
We arrived to the outside of La Sorbonne, and stopped for a quick photo-op.
We were heading to look at it from the other side when we saw a small park with a sculpture that caught my eye.
It is a replica of the Capitoline Wolf, which I learned about in my Art History class at UNM. From what I remember it was an Etruscan work representing the creation of the city of Rome. The she-wolf is feeding two infant boys, Romulus and Remus, who were abandoned by their mother and taken in by this wolf. The boys later went on to found the city of Rome. I like this statue because there is a wolf statue at UNM, near Johnson Gym, which was inspired by this one, and I’m just drawn to wolves; guess that’s just the Lobo in me!
From the park, another thing caught my eye: Musée national du Moyen Âge, a museum of artwork from the Middle Ages, which is a place I had been wanting to visit.
We decided to visit the museum, which is housed in a building that actually dates back to medieval times and has really awesome Gothic architecture. The building is also connected to the remains of an ancient Gallo-Roman bath house, which along with an ancient roman arena, is one of the oldest remaining things in Paris.
We had to wait in a fairly long line in the courtyard of the old hotel, but I didn’t mind waiting because the sun was out, and the courtyard was pretty cool, so I was marveling at the architecture.
When we finally got in, Luisa and I went through the whole museum, which was a really impressive collection of Middle Age art. I can’t say it is my favorite style of art, it’s far too religious and depressing for me, but I still enjoyed the museum, and for some reason I loved this statue. The expression on his face kills me!
The most famous work of art in the museum is called La Dame à la licorne (The lady and the unicorn), which is a collection of six large tapestries, each containing the image of a woman and a unicorn, not surprisingly. The room was really dark so as to preserve the very old tapestries, and it was really hard to get a clear picture that showed the size of them, or get all 6 in one photo, but you get the idea.
After the museum, we went back to the Sorbonne, and used our student ID’s to sneak into the campus to see the inside. Since it was a Saturday, there weren’t many people there, but there were still some students around. We found ourselves in the stunning courtyard, and I took about a million pictures
We went inside, even though we weren’t sure if we were allowed to or not, and we explored a little bit. It was very empty, which made it feel a little scary even, because it was also really dark. We found a lecture hall, which looked really old, and classic, and for some reason being in there just felt cool. This university dates back to the 1200’s and has so much history, it just feels cool to be walking through its halls.
I wanted to explore a little deeper, but Luisa was a little worried about getting in trouble for being in there, so we went back out to the courtyard.I took some final photos of the statues of Victor Hugo and Louis Pasteur, both alumni, and we made our way back to the street.
From here, we continued walking around, looking for a good pastry shop for Luisa to find a birthday treat. I found myself a “religeuse” which is like an eclair but round with a second ball stacked on top, creating the shape of a chubby nun (:
We visited several because she couldn’t find exactly what she was craving, so we got a really nice look at the area, and even ended up in a totally different neighborhood, Montmarnasse, in the 14th arrondissement. I got a better look at the Montparnasse tower, the tallest in Paris, and Luisa finally found a chocolate cake treat for her birthday.
At this point, I was starting to feel tired, and really needed to get some grocery shopping done, so I decided to head home. I briefly talked to Julian, who was on a trip with his friends to Colorado, and was able to say Happy Valentine’s Day to my real valentine, even though I claimed on Snapchat that I had “a French Valentine” (;
Hope everyone had a great day full of love!