Angels looking down on the richest part of Paris
The sixteenth arrondissement is located on the Right Bank of the Seine River in western Paris. This arrondissement hosts the famous chestnut tree lined Avenue Foch, the widest street in Paris, and lots and lots of embassies. If you’re getting the idea that it’s one of the richest corners of the city, you’re right on. Its land area is about 6.3 square miles (16.3 square kilometers) but if you exclude the Bois de Boulogne the size drops in half to 3 square miles (about 7.8 square kilometers). The population numbers slightly over one hundred sixty thousand and the district hosts over one hundred thousand jobs. This is the only arrondissement to merit two postal codes, both considered exclusive.
Passy is in the northern part of the district. It was once a village and served as home away from home to Benjamin Franklin for many years. That’s where in 1782 he printed a pamphlet “A Project for Perpetual Peace” that presented his vision for a permanent peace in Europe. In spite of his inability to predict the future, Parisians have honored him with a rue Franklin. You may want to visit the Cimetière de Passy (Passy Cemetery) burial grounds for the painter Édouard Manet and the composer Claude Debussy. It is the only cemetery in Paris to have a heated waiting-room. Perhaps that’s why it was once “the place” in Paris to be buried. If you go make sure to see the retaining wall memorial to soldiers who fell in World War I. Another Passy site of interest is the house where the famous writer Honoré de Balzac lived and wrote.
The Parc des Princes (Princes' Park) is a football stadium with just a bit less than fifty thousand seats. It was France’s national stadium until the much bigger Stade de France was built in the working class suburb of St-Denis. The stadium was designed in 1972 by Roger Taillibert who also designed the Montreal Olympic Stadium for the 1976 Olympics. The Parc des Princes area was a hunting preserve for the royal family name during the Eighteenth Century but the neighborhood went to pot. There is something about this site that attracts stadiums (stadia for purists) ; the first one went up in 1897 and the second in 1932. Until 1967 the Parc marked the end of the Tour de France bicycle race, the most famous such race in the world. There are plans afoot to increase the seating capacity to a whopping one hundred fourteen thousand.
Lycée Janson de Sailly is generally considered as one of the best lycées (roughly high schools) in France. It is the biggest such institution in France with 3200 students whose age ranges from 11 to 20. The founder, a Parisian lawyer named Monsieur Janson de Sailly discovered that his wife had a lover, disinherited her, and left his entire fortune to the State. This chauvinist insisted that the monies be used to establish an excellent high school for boys only, but eventually girls were accepted. The lycée was built in the 1880s as the first Republican lycée in France but ended up attracting many students coming from Parisian high society.
Janson’s motto was Pour la Patrie, par le livre et par l'épée (For the Homeland, by the book and by the sword). Many of its students pursued a military career, often in the colonies. In 1944 hundreds joined the French Free Forces, fought German divisions in Alsace, and entered Germany with Patton's forces in 1945. Janson’s students often end up at France’s most prestigious post-secondary institutions, the equivalent of Ivy League schools.
The Musée Guimet (Guimet Museum) boasts one of the largest collections of Asian art outside Asia. It also has a magnificent collection of pieces from Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. The Musée de la Contrefaçon (Counterfeiting Museum) was established in 1951 by the Union des Fabricants, an organization of manufacturers. It currently exhibits several hundred items, pairing each original piece with its counterfeit. The Musée Marmottan-Monet features a collection of a hundred Impressionist works by Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
The Trocadéro lies across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower. The French won the Battle of Trocadéro in 1823 protecting the autocratic Spanish King Ferdinand VII. Forty some years later they honored this victory by renaming the square called Place du Roi de Rome (i.e., Place of the King of Rome). The following year, the Palais de Trocadéro (Trocadéro Palace) was built on the site as the centerpiece of a world’s fair celebrating France’s recovery from its defeat in the Franco-Prussian war, The Palace was built like a concert hall in mixed Moorish and Byzantine style with a large aquarium occupying the lower level. For the Exposition Internationale (World’s Fair) of 1937 the old Palais du Trocadéro was demolished and replaced by the modernist Palais de Chaillot. The complex includes several museums: the Musée national de la Marine (Naval Museum), the ethnological Musée de l'Homme (Museum of Man), and the Musée national des Monuments français (National Museum of French Monuments) as well as the Théâtre national de Chaillot (Chaillot National Theater). At the Palais de Chaillot the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The esplanade was renamed the esplanade des droits de l'homme (esplanade of human rights). And since then human rights…
Of course you don’t want to be in Paris without sampling fine French wine and food. In my article I Love French Wine and Food – A Province Bandol I reviewed such a wine and suggested a sample menu: Start with Caviar d’Aubergines (Egglant Purée). For your second course savor Poisson aux Herbes de Provence (Fish with Provence Herbs). And as dessert indulge yourself with Tarte aux Noix (Walnut and Honey Tart). Your Parisian sommelier (wine steward) will be happy to suggest appropriate wines to accompany each course.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would
rather just drink fine French or other wine, accompanied by the right foods.
He knows what dieting is, and is glad that for the time being he can eat and drink
what he wants, in moderation. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario
French-language community college. His central website is
www.wineinyourdiet.com devoted to the health and nutritional aspects of wine and its place in your weight-loss program. Visit his global wine site www.theworldwidewine.com and his other websites devoted to Italian wine, Italian travel, and Italian food.
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