Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Bienvenue à Paris (Welcome to Paris)

 We have now been in the UK for 2 months. We have seen some amazing things and have settled into life here nicely. It’s time to take advantage of the close proximity of other European countries. We decided to do a bus trip to Paris. We were so excited about exploring a new city, the 7 hour bus ride seemed to take no time at all. Once we arrived at our hotel, we quickly checked in and hit the streets. First on the list was of course the Eiffel Tower. As we made our way toward the tower, we were amazed that we were here. We Looked up at all the beautiful buildings, listening to french accent and constantly checking the map as we made our way through the maze of cobblestone streets. We certainly felt like a fish out of water. But once we arrived at the Eiffel Tower, we quickly realised that we were not alone. Literally thousands of tourists, just like us, taking in the sights of Paris. After spending a few hours around the tower, we made our way back to our hotel, excited about the days to come.

The next day we had a long list of sights that we had to go and see. Cara really wanted to go and see the ‘Moulin Rouge’. As we made our way there by train, we were entertained by a busker playing his violin and you truly felt like you were in Paris. After taking some pictures at the Moulin Rouge, We decided to have a bite to eat at a close by cafe. France is the home of the cafes, so we had plenty to choose from. As we sat down and ordered our food, I decided that this would be a great time to have the traditional french liqueur, ‘Ricard’ (also known as ‘Pernod’ in other countries). Ricard (or Pernod) are produced by a french beverage company funnily enough called ‘Pernod Ricard’. These liqueurs are both anise flavoured very similar to liquorice. The story of Pernod Ricard began with Henri-Louis Pernod in 1797. He opened an absinthe distillery in Switzerland. The absinthe he produced had instant success and by 1805 he opened another distillery in eastern France. When Henri-Louis Pernod died in 1850, his legacy of absinthe still lived on. Another distillery was opened in Paris in 1871 and absinthe was fast becoming the highest selling drink in Europe. It’s popularity was due to it’s addictive hallucinogenic qualities. This was considered dangerous and by 1915 it was banned in most of Europe and the United States. There was now a void in the drinks market that had to be filled, and it was ‘Ricard’ which took it’s place. In 1932, Paul Ricard founded his new drink which was made from similar products as absinthe, but without it’s harmful hallucinogen effects. Because Paul Ricard’s new drink was so similar to the Pernod product, the two companies we’re fierce rivals, until they finally merged in 1975. Still today, Ricard is the top selling drink in France.

Ricard is typically served in a long glass with ice. It is also served with a small jug of water, allowing you to dilute the liqueur as you wish. I can’t say that it would be a drink that I’d order regularly, but I can definitely appreciate why people love it so much. It does cleanse the palette. So after some crepes, french toast and a glass of Ricard, we set off again and continued our tour of Paris.

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