Coffee with Napoleon

A weird experience this morning, in Paris and literally could not find a croissant to buy. We normally grab one from just near the station and both shops there had sold out! Had to wait until we got to our destination to find a cafe that was open to get one. Finally found one and kept moving to our destination which was Invalides (pronounced on-ver-lay).

Following on the theme of coffee with dead military leaders, last year it was Wellington and Nelson, today it was with their arch nemesis Napoleon.

We headed over to the Hôtel national des Invalides which is where he is buried, or rather entombed in a massive marble sarcophagus. The building would roughly be equivalent to our war memorial in terms of how the French treat it. The building is gigantic and his tomb quite imposing. It’s said there are 6 coffins within the sarcophagus, kind of like a Russian doll.

The coffee for today was from a commercial Nespresso machine. Fine for Nespresso but really no better than the ones you get at home. Nespresso is a Swiss product, have the French surrendered their coffee culture to the Swiss?

Here is a portrait of Napoleon, obviously upset and depressed with the state of coffee in the French Republic

The coffee was very small. Apparently Napoleon was rather short too. Is there a theme on this in the cafe maybe ?

After looking at his tomb we went and checked out a special exhibition on Napoleon that traces his military strategies. Very interesting, especially the section on his defeat and the battle of Waterloo. Whilst his downfall and defeat is covered, the battle of Waterloo is only mentioned briefly, certainly no dioramas that were heavily used for his victorious battles.

Here is were he rests

I gave Napoleon €2 and he gave me €0 back

We then went a few metro stations down the line to Cité where the conciergerie, which was used as a prison during the revolution and it where Marie Antionette was held before her head was liberated from her body. Very interesting little art work in the building where they have pumped part of the Seine is pumped through the building to remember how is flooded about 100 years ago. Lots of signs telling you not to touch or drink the water

After some time here, I took Emma down to the Arc de Triomphe, whilst Sharon wandered around Les Halles. The Arc is great and the view is spectacular, but there are a lot of stairs.

Markets and Coffee

This morning we caught the metro down to the Marche Bastille Markets, which are apparently some of the best open markets in Paris. I’d say a good 30-40% of the stalls are the usual dregs and dross you would find at any market, plastic toys, phone cases, t-shirts, fidget spinners, tourist shite etc.

There were some amazing produce stalls though and Sharon was in foodie heaven looking at everything. Meats, seafoods, breads, cakes, spices, produce. You name it, they probably had it.

The one thing conspicuously absent was coffee. At home a place like this would have had lots of coffee vans or stalls.

I found one place that looked promising, however on closer inspection it was just pod coffee dressed up. Coffee was disappointing and not even rateable. My Nespresso is many times better. I did find a second place that was doing espresso shots from all sorts of interesting beans. This was way better than the last one. Emma had a taste and thought it was “festy”. Straight espresso shots are obviously an acquired taste after a few more years…

A line of pod machines. Not worth €2.50

The decent espresso. Not going to bother showing you the other one. This was worth the €1

We had a crepe with Grand Marnier poured over it. This was scrumptious and only cost €2.60. From hot plate to our hands in less than a minute.

We bought some local French salt from a vendor who explained the differences between each salt offered, spices that were added and the region from where it was sourced. He was surprised to have Australians there at the market.

After the markets we headed over to the Centre Georges Pompidou, which is a modern art gallery that has all the workings of the building on the outside, not hidden behind a facade. Essentially the building is inside out. We didn’t go inside to the exhibition but did buy tickets for €5 each to go up to the roof for a fantastic view over Paris as the building is slightly over the height of most others. Interestingly if you are under 25 entry is completely free to the museum.

Lunch was had at a little cafe on the same square, not cheap, but quite good food and relaxing atmosphere under trees on the square. Emma’s lunch included the most delicious vanilla ice cream.

Not far from here is Saint Chapelle with some magnificent stained glass windows. Note though you need to go up a small flight of stairs on the corner to get to the second floor where the magnificent windows are. When I first walked in I was thinking “I paid €30 for this? What a rip off.” Then I went upstairs and the jaw dropped… pictures don’t really do it justice. Each individual glass pane is unique, they each tell a story in pictures from the Old Testament.

After a small break at the Apartment we were back up at Montmartre for some more shopping and then dinner. First time ever I’ve seen a French waiter come back to the table and take out order again as he forgot. Very unusual to see a waiter use pencil and paper here in France. It’s just not de rigueur. Here in Montmartre there is a square that’s closed off from traffic with lots of restaurants and artists drawing portraits. Most of the restaurants here will do a three course meal for €16.50 drinks extra. Wonderful atmosphere on a cool summers evening.

The area we had dinner tonight:-

Remember what I said on my bike share post that the French disrespect the shitty bike share bikes just as much as Australians do ?