Institut de France

All this talk lately of new words being added to the English Dictionary (the verb unfriend via facebook?) reminded me of the Academie Francaise which has been in charge of the official French dictionary since being founded by Cardinal Richelieu in 1635. The 5 acadamies of the Institut de France (of which the Academie Francaise is the most famous) have been headquartered since 1805 in an amazing Baroque Palace from 1688 which dominates the skyline of St. Germaine along the Seine. It was originally built as the College of four Nations (a college meant for only 60 young noblemen from 4 acquired provinces) with money bequeathed to Louis XIV by Cardinal-Minister Mazarin.In the above photos, you see the front facade which faces the Seine. The amazing dome or cupola and public square were designed by the architect Louis Le Vau to relate with and complement the Louvre directly across the river.The rear portion is not as imposing but no less grand. These small streets curve around it and are full of lots of treasures to discover: parks, restaurants & charming shops.We always knew we were close to the hotel (and a Laduree snack break!) when we saw the beautiful dome.In these close up shots, you can see a building that is designed in a most refined manner and wears its' age and the building techniques of the 17th century well. The rear of the building is quite plain with the fine carving being reserved for the front facade (detail seen below).We had a direct view of this dome from our hotel room, 2 blocks away, and it was an amazing site to wake up to every morning....And watch during the sunset in the evening. Yet another reason St. Germaine was my favorite neighborhood!

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