Posts tagged Paris
Posts tagged Paris
Prior to traveling to Europe, I purchased two books to read on my trip during my down time. First of all, I don’t have much down time and second, when I purchased the books, I had an order in which I wanted to read them. The first book I intended on reading was Steve Jobs. I also purchased a book called Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosay, which I knew nothing about other than what it said on the back cover. When I was flying to London, I showed my mom both books, and she asked to read Sarah’s Key while I finished the other book. She was engrossed in the book and wanted to tell me all about it, though she refrained so I could enjoy the quick read too.
What she did tell me was that the book was about the Holocaust, which I knew to some extent. I won’t spoil the book because I do recommend it for anyone who has 5 hours and has an interest in WWII. Basically the story is about a modern French journalist and a little Jewish girl from France who lived in Paris during WWII. Their stories intertwine: the book is fictional; however, the events that occured in Paris on July 16, 1942 are very real and have not been publicized very much until about 2005.
Vel’ d’Hiv’, or the roundup of 1942, was an atrocious act carried out by the French police. The Nazis had asked/ ordered the French to round up all of the Jewish men and women in Paris. Once captured, they would all be sent to Auschwitz for immediate extermination. What many people don’t know is that Jews were outcasted many times throughout French History, but after WWI, the entire country and communities within France decided to unite as one. Between the two wars, many immigrants arrived in France. Many of them were Jewish and had different perspectives on Judaism. They had their own communities that included Jewish youth societies, sports, etc. The French Jews began to mold with the immigrants, which upset some of the French who were comfortable with the “one-France” community at large. Everything seemed to be going well during WWII aside from the air raids and such, but then the French Police, under the Vichy Government, began to create anti-Jew laws. All of this occurred before the Germans had even entered France. Jews were forced to wear stars, stop conducting regular daily activities and some were even sent camps (pre-German concentration camps).
Months before the roundup for the Nazis, the Vichy Government planned to take the act a step further. The plan was to round up men, women and children a few days prior to the deportation day. Once captured, all of the Jews were sent to Veledrome d’Hiver, a French bike race stadium. In the stadium, which was not far from the Eiffel Tower, healthy living conditions ceased for the Jews. After a couple of days of captivity, the men and women were sent straight to Auschwitz for extermination. The children, now orphans, were sent to concentration camps and eventually extermination camps. 80,000 French Jews were deported to their death and never returned to Paris. The French had betrayed their own countrymen and sent them to their death.
In France, Vel’ d’Hiv’ was not discussed after the war. How some surviving children were able to stay in Paris for the rest of their lives is beyond me. My mom and I discussed how we could never go back to my country that betrayed us and killed my family. In the mid 1990’s, small memorials were created, like plaques. The sad part is that not many French know what their own country did during the war to their own citizens. Finally, in 1995, French President Chirac issued a formal apology on behalf of the country and publicly acknowledged the country’s responsibility in the Holocaust. This was a bold move, but absolutely necessary. Since then, memorials and museums have been created, though they are not visited as heavily as those in America - in my opinion.
The stadium no longer stands but there is a monument with a few men women in children on stadium bleachers and “Never Forget” engraved. For those who were deported, there is the Memorial to the Martyrs of the Deported, which was 2 minutes from our hotel in Paris. We were so glad we were able to see it. The memorial is underground on the edge of the island that Notre Dame sits on. The pictures above are from this memorial except the two signs of the Shoah museum.
The Shoah Memorial has the names of every French Jew who was deported engraved on walls. The order is based on the year they were deported during WWII, and if a name is missing, they add the name to the bottom of the list. There is also a Wall of the Righteous, which recognizes the French who did risk their own lives to rescue their fellow Frenchman. There were not many who helped, but there were pockets of people who did hide and rescue some of the Jews, especially orphaned children. What was neat about this memorial was the thousands of French police files about the Jews. There is a small corridor filled with these files. The fact that Jews were considered offenders of so many criminal offenses is insane.
The memorial also serves as a Holocaust Museum. Once again, like London’s museum, it was interesting to learn about the war through another country’s point of view. In order to understand France’s role, the history of France v. Jews was depicted back to the 1800s. This museum has a camp bunk door from the camp where many children were sent after the round up. There are also many personal stories from French Jews and observers. It was a very informative and some heart-heavy history.
Now, I went to these memorials because I have such a great interest in WWII and the Holocaust. It frightens me to read about the power and influence of a madman over millions of people. In Sarah’s Key, much of this history is mentioned, though I hadn’t read the book prior to my visit, but my mom had read it and taken notes for our trip. As soon as I returned to London, I picked up and finished the book in two sittings. It was interesting to read about places that I had just visited. It made the experience richer.
To conclude, I recommend these hidden memorials should you ever be in France, and may we never forget those who perished at the hands of evil during WWII. History repeats itself - I remember learning this over and over in middle school history classes. There are parallels between America and other countries’ current events and the world right before WWII. I’m not saying WWIII is about to break out, but it is worth noting the similarities. Ironically, when I returned to London, I saw a tv advertisement for a movie called The Round Up, which documents Vel’ d’Hiv! What are the odds? I also learned that Sarah’s Key was turned into a movie within the past year. It goes to show that the history of this particular act is not as publicized as other discriminatory events of the time.
I’m sure more facts will race through my mind randomly, but until then, all the best,
I love food. It’s no secret. I love to eat it, cook it, read about it and obsess over new food shows. While in Paris, I made sure I tried many of the staples of Paris. The first meal I had was onion soup, which was obviously French because I was in France! I loved it, as much as I love it in the states. For dinner the first night, I had spaghetti boulognaise. This meal was the first meal that made me think of home comfort food. I was quite pleased.
The second day started with a simple, yet delicious breakfast. We ate at Le Petite Pont and had a breakfast special, which included a cappuccino, orange juice, water, a toasted baguette, butter and jam. It was seriously so simple, yet so tasteful. I also realized I enjoy apricot jam. With a start like that to the day, what more does a girl need? For lunch, which we usually eat around 2 or 3pm, we ate at Deuville on Champs de Eleysse. Here we had savory crepes (Salt) with ham, cheese and a sunny side up egg on top. I’m not sure what the deal is with the French and ham and eggs, but it is a fantastic combination. I was so pleased with my menu selection. Finally, day two ended with a bowl of vegetable soup. In Paris, I only saw two types of soup on every menu: onion or vegetable. I didn’t mind it, but I wondered where the seasonal squash soups were hiding!
Day three started strangely. We woke up late because we were exhausted, and when we went to look for a place to grab a quick breakfast, no where seemed to be open or offering food. It was so strange, but mom walked into this tiny shop where an elderly lady was bar tending at 11am. She didn’t understand English so mom was doing baby sign language to tell her we wanted to eat. After funny signals and a man at the bar translating a bit, we were given the best cup of coffee we had and a baguette loaded with butter. This woman must have been competing with Paula Dean for the World’s Biggest Butter Lover. It was delicious but definitely not nutritious. For lunch we had soup at the organic shop. Mom and I have been trying to eat a bowl of soup a day. Not sure how this started, but it’s been working out nicely. As I mentioned in an earlier letter, on our last full day, we devoured French Macarons before dinner. I googled a recipe and will be attempting to make them for Christmas this year. For dinner, we ate at a place right near our hotel and had Beef Burgundy. It was so good, I could taste the French wine in each carrot. The meal also came with a dessert, so I ordered a personal favorite, Creme brûlée. Magnific!
Overall, I enjoyed the French cuisine. I didn’t have a chance to try their unique ice cream, but it was far to cold to enjoy such a treat. I’d like to say NEXT TIME, and see where that lands me!
All the best,
After an exhausting day two, day three was more relaxed and mom and I had less on our agenda. We started off with an interesting breakfast (more to come in my food de Paris letter), and then we found the Holocaust Memorial Museum (sorry, more to come soon).
After a heavy morning, we decided to try the bus system. First of all, it isn’t too difficult to understand and it is affordable and warm! We rode up towards Sacre Coure Cathedral. Once in the general area, we walked around a bit. Word to those traveling with children - this area is filled with naughty stores and the giant Moulin Rouge venue/ windmill. I don’t feel like spoiling a nice letter with immodesty, so I hope you catch my drift. You can certainly avoid these street by heading straight to the Cathedral (read the map before you arrive and plan accordingly).
Mom and I were looking for the traditional Dutch Windmill, and after a hike up a hill, we found not one, but two Dutch Windmills! Mom was thrilled and it was pretty neat to see them outside at round of putt-putt golf. A shift to the east was the village of Montemartre. Here there are many artists with their version of the Parisian scenery and restaurants. Further up was Sacre Coure. The view was spectacular, and I could see the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
We headed down the back of the mountain, which was both dangerous and painful on mom and I’s bad knees. However, we made it safely and dined at an organic shop. We found a bus back to our hotel and pondered how we would spend our last evening. Mom had told me of these traditional French delicacies, Macarons, that melt in your mouth. Of course, we decided we needed to have them immediately. We put on our warm layers and headed out to find the best looking ones. We found them and brought them back to the hotel room. They were gone in less than ten minutes. We cut them with a coffee stirrer so we could try each flavor and then marveled over them. Of course, the foodie in me knew that this could not be our dinner for the day, so we went back out to find a French cuisine place.
After a great meal, which even mom relished over, we tried to find a boat tour of Paris. It was about 7:30pm, and many of the regular places were closed. We did not want to give up because this had been on our to-do list, and it was a clear night. Finally, after walking a decent distance, we found the tour at Pont-Nuef. It was an hour tour and it was very informative. It was also nice to see the city lit up.
It was hard to believe the trip was over and the next day would be spent traveling back to the train station and to London. I was excited to be back in an English speaking country and in a bed of my own with no noisy neighbors, but once again I learned a lot of history, from another point of view while in Paris.
All the best,
The City of Love, Paris
On this particular bridge, lovers leave a lock with their names on it and throw the key into the Seine River. On the other railing, there were thousands more.
On my second day in Paris, it was freezing! I could see my breath, and I was not prepared with winter clothes. I literally wore everything I packed at the same time. Fashion was not an option. Of course, on this particular day, we walked the longest distance of more than 8 miles.
We started with a most delicious and simple breakfast - toast with Jam. I am not even kidding when I tell you it was so good. Mom wanted to go to the Orsay Museum, which has the largest impressionist exhibit in the world. Large displays of Monet, Manet, Van Gogh and Renoit are exhibited. The museum used to be a train station, and two large clocks are on the top floor that you can look through to see some of the Paris skyline.
On the way to the museum we saw the statue of St. Michael that leads into the Latin Quarter. We also passed the French Institute and a building that is modeled after the United States White House.
From the museum, we headed to the Eiffel Tower. It is so tall and the weather was so foggy, we could not see the top from the ground. Based on this sight, we decided to save some money and only go to the second tier rather than all the way to the top. There was no point in us freezing to be stuck in a fog cloud. From the second tier, which is still quite high, you could see so much of Paris.
After a quick ride down the tower, we walked to the Arc de Triumph. There are so many arcs in London that I wasn’t super impressed, but I got my picture and carried on. Right near the arc is Champs de Eleysse, which is a classy shopping avenue. Adjacent to it is Madison Avenue. We had a most delish lunch on this street and stopped at H&M for some warm clothes. We did well in terms of shopping. On this particular day, Versace’s line for H&M was premiered, so I was able to see some of her pieces. Some were nice, but still costly in terms of H&M customers.
We walked home, which took a good amount of time and crashed. Then we were hungry and wandered on I’Isle de Saint Louis for quick bite. We went to a small, rather empty place, which we normally would avoid. All we wanted was soup. The only other inhabitants was a couple who were speaking fluent French to the owner. They happened to hear us speaking American English and said in perfect American English, “where are you from?” We told him NJ and he said they are from NY! They were on their honeymoon and headed to Belgium but had to stop in Paris for a couple of days. Last year, the gentleman proposed to his new wife in Paris at the same restaurant. How romantic!?! They even heard of my hometown in NJ. Small world.
To say I slept well that night is an understatement. I was exhausted, but I felt like I had accomplished so much!
All the best,
P.S. Click HERE for my full album of Paris! Enjoy!