La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog
Paris, Visiting France

La Grande Galerie de l’Evolution

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

It’s been months since our visit in February to the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution in Paris’ Jardin des Plantes. But as the weather gets colder, and we turn back to the indoors, I wanted to share this jewel box of a museum.

With four floors, there is a lot to see. The first floor is dedicated to species of the sea and the second to those of the land but the top two floors take a more philosophical approach with exhibits on man’s effect on the environment and evolution, and the mechanisms of evolution.

On our visit, we began with the second floor and its signature parade of exotic animals.

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

(Look at that little pudge! It’s always hard to believe how much they change in a few months. Élie was fascinated, especially by the elephants which he loves, but when the automated recording of an elephant trumpeting activated, he clung to his Papa for dear life, despite the volume being well adjusted to the space and not overly loud.)

The second floor opens above to the soaring ceiling, the top two floors being large balconies that run the entire perimeter of the space. You don’t notice it at first, it is so natural seeming, but that ceiling and the walls of the second floor are fitted with lighted panels that gradually change color and intensity to mimic a day on the savanna changing into evening. Sounds of insects and birds float through the space until you suddenly realize that is has become quite quiet and the panels have turned an ominous blue gray. The sound of a sudden downpour and thunderstorm sweeps through the floor as flashes of lightning travel across the ceiling. Then, as suddenly as it arrived, the storm is over and the panels melt into the soft colors of a rainbow after the storm. It is brilliant. And magical. Eventually the panels fade to a quiet night with crickets providing their song only to eventually start again with a dawn breaking and the day beginning. It is a testament to the place that the guards we encountered took great delight in telling us the little details not to be missed, like the one who smiled and told us “A storm is coming but watch the ceiling, there is a rainbow after!” when we noticed the change in atmosphere.

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

Of course, every kind of animal can be find here from the large and impressive to the tiny and delicate. And not just animals, plants are just as important in this story.

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

The backdrop of the exhibits, the building itself, is just as much a reason to visit as what is on display. Built in 1889, the museum was actually closed for years between 1965 and its reopening, relatively recently, in 1994. It has that wonderful, moody mix of its time: the elements of classical architecture refracted through the lens of the industrial revolution and the age of steam.

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

So there you have a peek into this treasure of Paris. It’s a wonderful place to visit and wander, and a perfect museum for children, too. Definitely put it on your list for a day indoors and check their website for film showings for both adults and children.

And I had to share these chairs for visitors to rest in because I just loved their design – such a perfect mix of echos of the space’s architecture and a modern sensibility!

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l’Évolution

36 rue Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 70005 Paris

Jardin des Plantes

xo,

A.

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Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog
Art, design, Visiting France

Visiting Le Chateau de Malmaison

Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog

May was full of not only long weekends here in France, but a strange mix of weather highs and lows. The weekend of (American) Mother’s Day corresponded to a summery high that made you feel like you were on vacation in your own town. I had wanted to visit Josephine Bonaparte’s home at Malmaison for a few years but the timing was never right – Malmaison is known for its roses and I really wanted to visit when they were in bloom. Unfortunately, we were a mere two weeks early for the roses that weekend but that didn’t bother us in the least because what we discovered was a fascinating building surrounded by wildflower lawns and bordered by a beautiful bois (wood).

Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog

The Chateau de Malmaison is not big like Versailles or perfectly conserved like Chenonceau but what makes it worth a trip is its visitable size (you aren’t completely exhausted by the end) and its fascinating history. Many chateaux in France are furnished as they may have been or were during the French renaissance or before but the Bonapartes’ chateau is from a much younger period and one that you don’t often see in such a context. Bought by Josephine while Napoleon was in Egypt, the chateau was decorated almost completely around the theme of military campaigns (albeit, the very rich and fashionable version) and classical and Egyptian motifs. This influence is in every detail – the arrow shaped curtain rods, the x-benches used throughout, the striped wall hangings – but what I found most striking were the wonderful and saturated color combinations in so many rooms.

On the first floor, one of the first rooms you visit is the billiard room which happened to be my favorite palette in the house – that wonderful verdigris green contrasted with the vibrant orange. Then the music room with cobalt blue walls lined with saturated red upholstered furniture trimmed with black. And everywhere, even on Josephine’s harp, the military detailing.

Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog

On the other end of the first floor, past the dining room, are Napoleon’s council room and library where the military imagery is on full display, the council room being swathed in draped striped fabric to mimic a military tent ornamented with regal eagles, lions, and mythical creatures.

Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog

When Napoleon and Josephine divorced, she kept Malmaion and lived there until her death. The upper floor is a mix of rooms that show her softer, simpler style and spaces that were converted to exhibition rooms after the house became a museum. On display are stunning collections of hand-painted china she commissioned displaying scenes of Egypt, artworks she collected from both classical and contemporary artists, and David’s original painting of Napoleon Crossing the Alps (originally commissioned by the King of Spain, four versions were eventually made).

Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog

The gardens around the chateau were converted to the English style by Josephine and remain beautifully simple and natural, much of the lawns being taken over by wildflowers. The gardens are also home to some remarkable trees, brought back from Napoleon’s travels.

Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog IMG_9582 Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog Chateau de Malmaison, France | egg & dart blog

While the Chateau de Malmaison is not the grandest castle, it is worth the visit on a longer trip to France for the uniqueness of its story and interiors. Access is very easy and parking is right next to the castle. But be sure to plan some time to visit the Bois-Préau next to it, planning a lunch picnic there is a great idea, because it will only add to the enchantment of the visit which truely feels like you’ve escaped Paris for the afternoon. Oh, be sure to take the well-done audio guide that is included in the price of admission. Although, you may be required to share as Romain was!

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Chateau de Malmasion and Bois-Préau

Avenue du château de Malmaison
92500 Rueil-Malmaison

xo,

A.

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Art, Night Au Musée

Night Au Musée: Faces, Flora, and Fauna

It had been a while since we had made it to a nocturne at the Louvre and since our last planned visit ended in an evening home with a sick husband, I think we were even more determined to break out and get there this past Friday after work! We decided to visit the new Arts d’Islam wing again since it is so large we didn’t even see half of the collection on the first visit. Now, a second visit down, we still have a lot more left to see.

These collections, even before the new wing was opened, have always been some of my favorites at the museum. The colors and prolific patternwork (which is often calligraphy transformed into decoration, giving it several layers of purpose) are endlessly stunning. I am fascinated by the lines of these works and love drawing inspiration from them. Their sense of scale and balance is so perfectly tuned.

Half way through this second visit, I realized that the overwhelming majority of the pieces I was drawn to that evening were depicting faces, flora, and fauna, the latter two being particularly common themes in Islam art. So, here is a second visit to the new wing for you, featuring the many faces, plants, and animals carved, painted, and smithed over centuries and across continents.

You can see pictures from our first visit to the Arts d’Islam wing here.

xo,

A.

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Food & Recipes, Life, Paris, Visiting France

Wednesday Market

This week I wanted to share just a couple glimpses of what a trip to the marché can look like. I have an appointment Wednesday mornings that takes me right past this one and I’m lucky to have a couple minutes to grab some mid-week provisions. Dive in!

The vendors at my produce stand were all encouraging me to come early, early on a Saturday when “the boss stacks everything to the sky!”. I’ll have to do a proper shoot for that. But for now, I want to wish everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving the warmest of holidays tomorrow! Much love and lots of family and friends for everyone. And thank you for reading, it truly makes me feel over the moon when I hear you’re enjoying what I share. Happy Thanksgiving!

xo,

A.

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Food & Recipes, Life

Marché Photo of the Week

 

Between colds and travel and rain it feels like ages since I got to the marché on Sunday! Sometimes I can do a quick trip to another on Wednesdays on my way back from a morning appointment but it’s definitely not the same and I miss the atmosphere of our favorite Sunday spot. This week I headed out on my own as R. had some work to do and look the long way home (I spy egg & dart on that column!) with full bags of fresh goods on my back because the sun was glorious. Here’s what I came back with:

pancetta

coppa

(tart, crisp, pineapple-y) apples (!)

potimarron

pears

rustic bread

boule d’or turnips

tallegio cheese

shallots

fresh sage

fennel

parsley

leek

celery

eggplant

garlic

endives

baby salad

And here’s where some of those wonders will go:

Coppa, Apple, and Cheddar Tartines* – Autumn Panzanella – Turnip and Pancetta Ravioli with Crispy Sage –  Chard, Pear, & Gruyère Tart

~

I always use the lazy weekend mornings to plan the week’s menu; I’m not good at planning on the fly every day of the week or running through the grocery store with no list. Besides not having to worry about it each evening, I love looking forward to the meal planned for the end of the day when we slow down (in theory) and find each other again at the dinner table. What are your plans for the week? I’d love to ‘peek’ in at your week’s menu!

xo,

A.

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Food & Recipes, Life, Paris

Marché Photo of the Week and A walk along the Marne

Hello! Happy Monday. Yesterday proved to be the announcer of a week of Indian summer* here in Paris. The days are balmy (even hot this afternoon) and the sun has returned from its two weeks of hiding. I am starting to forget what season it is completely.

When we headed to the marché yesterday, my menu for the week had been constructed as the first of the year to truly start to embrace autumn. But when we got to our spot in line at our favorite stand, I spied an avalanche of eggplants, yellow peppers, zucchinis. “Summer isn’t over.” I said to R.

Not wanting to miss out on any chance to enjoy the end of the season’s bounty, I quickly reworked my whole plan while waiting for my turn. It was a busy hive behind the tables – the workers running back and forth grabbing green beans, holding up slices of squash “This size?”, reaching for sweet ‘fontaine’ onions – but one of the regulars caught my eye. “I have them!” she called to me, but I had forgotten. “The tomatoes!” she responded to my puzzled look. I had asked for them to bring me truly green tomatoes at the last market. One more meal was quickly scribbled and rewritten on my list.

potimarron (red kuri) squash

– eggs

– tamaris tomatoes

– yellow peppers

– onions

– green tamaris tomatoes

– shelling beans

– a Swiss hard cheese, cooked in wood smoke (we forgot the name!)

– eggplants

– romaine lettuces

– chervil

– leek

– celery

– samba potatoes

– ‘master’ bread

On the Menu:

Gnocchi & Roasted Tomato Sauce – Herb & Milk Poached Chicken with Roast Pumpkin – Chervil & Smoky Cheese Soufflés and Salad

~

We just couldn’t stay inside with our original plans of shopping in Chinatown when we realized how very beautiful the day would be yesterday. So we ditched those plans, grabbed some bikes, and cycled out of the city to discover the paths along the Marne River. I was so excited when I found a tree that had burst into color. Exactly what I was craving that weekend but didn’t think I’d see. Here’s a little bit of what we discovered. (If only I could take pictures and peddle at the same time!)

~

And just because I love him:

xo,

A.

* The French call North American’s vibrant showing of autumnal color “Indian Summer” which I always thought was funny because, for us, an Indian summer is a period of unusual warmth in the autumn or early winter and has nothing to do with foliage. One day I got into a conversation with some French friends and a German friend about the term and, when we looked it up, we discovered its meaning hasn’t always been clear. So I’d love to know, what is Indian summer to you?

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Food & Recipes

The Rain and Light, the In Between Season

I come from a place where the autumn season is full of vivid colors against a bright blue sky and crisp sea air. But Paris has a very different style when it comes to this season. The summer ends and the gray and rain begin. It sounds all doom and gloom but there are days of beautiful sun, days when we blink because our eyes had gotten used to the gray, we just have to survive days upon days of drizzle to enjoy them. It isn’t an easy change for me and sometimes I catch myself starting to dread what has always been my favorite season.

But there are graces. Vivid potimarron squashes and fresh hazelnuts and walnuts start to appear on marché tables. Figs and Muscat grapes and wild mushrooms. While I was making my shopping list for the week, I found myself finally getting excited about these flavors, the evidence that the season was changing, and I wanted some wild mushrooms. The days of rain sprinkled with beautiful clear days are surely good for their numbers. Something to get excited about.

The rain and our poor feet that were tired of getting soaked kept us from the market Sunday. Anyway, you know I have to work on emptying my fridge! But I was anxious to grab some mushrooms at the market on Wednesday because I knew just what I wanted to do with them. A galette with earthy chard and creamy goat’s cheese to accent the mushrooms. And a crust with hazelnut flour? It could only be good to have all these seasonal flavors together.

As I waited my turn at the marché, looking at every kind of mushroom on the table and trying to decide on the best ones, I spotted some heirloom tomatoes on the back table. Not many of them, but beautiful black ones and green zebras. They are the very last I thought. For this season in transition, mushrooms and heirloom tomatoes side-by-side. Just for a little while. So I couldn’t resist them. Who knows exactly how long until they are ready again next summer. So here is our dinner for a season fading into another. For getting excited for Autumn. Wild Mushroom, Swiss Chard, and Chevre Galette. Rather nice with a simple heirloom salad for a friend.

Wild Mushroom, Swiss Chard & Chevre Galette

for the pastry:

3/4 c. all purpose flour

1/2 c. hazelnut flour (or replace with same of all-purpose)

8 tbsp / 115g cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks

1 tsp. sea salt

4 – 5 tbsp. ice water

for the galette:

1/2 pound swiss chard or spinach, well washed and stems removed

2 shallots, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 pound mixed wild mushrooms, brushed clean with a dry brush and large ones cut into thick slices

3 oz. / 90 g chevre (semi-aged, not the fresh creamy kind)

olive oil

butter

parsley to serve

1. To make the pastry, gather the butter, flours, and salt in a bowl or a food processor. Cut the butter into the flour until combined and the mixture resembles wet sand. Add the ice water, one tablespoon at a time, mixing just enough for the dough to come together and form a ball. Gently form the dough into a disk on a floured plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

2. In a sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and add the shallots. Sauté until they are softened and becoming translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds until it is fragrant. Add the chard and cover the pan until the chard has wilted. Remove the cover and continue to sauté until the extra liquid in the pan has evaporated.  Transfer the chard mixture to a colander, press with the back of a spoon to squeeze out any excessive moisture and then leave to cool.

3. Wipe out the pan and heat again over medium-high heat. Add enough butter to just coat the bottom of the pan and add some of the mushrooms in a single layer. Don’t overcrowd the pan, you can cook the mushrooms in several batches. Resist the urge to move the mushrooms around and let them cook until golden, 3 – 4 minutes, then flip them to do the same to the other side. Remove the mushrooms to a dish and continue in this manner until all the mushrooms are sautéed and golden, adding a bit more butter as needed. Once they are finished, toss with a little salt and pepper to taste.

4. Remove the pastry dough from the fridge and, on a piece of baking parchment, roll into a roughly 12 inch circle. Spread the chard evenly around the center of the circle, leaving enough of a border to fold up. Crumble 2 oz. / 60 g of the chevre over the chard. Add the mushrooms on top, slightly heaped in the center. Crumble the last 1 oz. / 30 g of chevre around the top. Gently bring up the sides of the pastry, gently pinching to close where it overlaps itself.
Slide the galette onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180° C / 350° F.

5. Bake the galette until the crust and filling are starting to turn golden on the edges, 30 – 45 minutes.  Serve warm or room temperature, sprinkled with chopped parsley.

xo,

A.

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