Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sept. 5, Monday - Institut de France and good food

We set off from the 14th with no strong plan in mind except to walk, soak in the city, eat oysters, and dine at Brasserie Balzar on Rue des Ecoles. The latter was recommended to us in 2000 by our friend, Debby Brudno, and it is still one of our favorites.

Stumbled upon the Institut de France, where a professor on his way to lunch stopped to chat and recommended that we visit the Mazarine Library across the square. Eureka!

The Institut was founded in 1795 and is called the "Parliament of the Learned." Here's more info.
Cardinal Mazarine's library was opened to the public in the mid 17th c., so it is known as France's first "public library." It's public nature saved it during the Revolution in the late 18th c. What a joy to have accidentally found it today. Since no photos are allowed inside the library, see their web site. It's amazing, and the staff are surprisingly tolerant of tourists, including librarians.

Here I sit at the famous old bookstore near the Seine where Sylvia Beach fostered Hemingway, published Joyce's Ulysses, etc. I heard a rumor that it's closing. Hope not.

Notre Dame from the small garden on the left bank across the river from the cathedral.

Delicious, briny oysters at le bar a huitres

remembering Debby at Brasserie Balzar near the Sorbonne

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