Friday, May 02, 2008

Paris (part 2).

The Pasteur Institute, just five minutes walk from the Hotel Yllen Eiffel, stretches back from both sides of la rue du Docteur Roux. It consists of old buildings and newer, more efficient, structures. Here is the library where Louis Pasteur and a lot of other eminent microbiologists have worked and continue to work.

It was here where we retreated on the first evening and were served wine and an assortment of the best hors d'ouvres I have ever tasted. They were so exquisitely presented - little cakes and little pots - that I had to restrain myself and not eat too many.

The lectures continued the next day on a variety of topics; all of them interesting but some I found so difficult, I had to resort to just making note of the papers. One of my favourite was on the evolutionary origin of nucleated a cells (non-nucleated cells combining). The speakers were obviously hugely enthusiastic about their subjects and each half hour was packed with exciting information.

Then, on the Tuesday evening, after a film showing early footage of microscopy taken at the Institute we were taken by bus to the nearby Invalides and the remains of Napoleon

in a tomb of various marbles, coffin within coffin, ebony, oak, mahogany, tin, until, eventually the red marble of something close (but not actually) porphyry - the traditional material for the tombs of emperors of the Roman Empire. I wondered at the space and richness, but a Frenchman that was walking alongside me declared it to be overdone, too ornate, and I guess it was, but only as much as all nineteenth century artifacts seem overdone - more is... more.

And everywhere there was Napoleon: in statues, friezes, even in glass cabinets containing his clothes.

His spirit was still there, watching over his beloved France and seeing all was well - even while we ate

our magnificent feast underneath crystal chandeliers, he was there - silhouetted on his balcony in front of his gold-leafed dome which burned bright as if on fire.

Gourmet food, wonderful wines and great conversations - I have never felt so privileged.


Blogger Kay Cooke said...

Thank you for the photos and the descriptions. The clarity of your writing never sways, and I for one appreciate that. I am so happy you are having a mind-blowing time, and I'm sure that a lot of writing is going to come from this trip.

Sat May 03, 01:38:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pleased to see you're having a wonderful time, Clare! And with such posts, we can enjoy it too. The dress is lovely and a great compliment to you. Great to have some fun, eh?

Sat May 03, 04:15:00 am  

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