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A Tourist Here Myself: A French Afternoon at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor

November 20, 2012
Kirsty Gumina

With the winter quickly approaching, if not already here, many of us are racking our brains to come up with fun, interesting and educational indoor activities to stay warm.  Might we suggest a trip to Paris? This may sound extravagant, but thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Musée du Louvre in Paris and the Legion of Honor Museum in Lincoln Park, a small slice of French history is easily accessible to San Franciscans with the Legion’s newest special exhibit: Royal Treasures from the Louvre: Louis XIV to Maire-Antoinette.

This show features many pieces that have never before been seen in the United States. The Legion of Honor will temporarily be home to a plethora of ornate, beautifully designed pieces reflecting the culture of the French Royal Court, including ornamental gifts that were given to cement alliances between countries and works of art patronized by the Kings.  Make sure to seek out the Gemmes de la Couronne, an exquisite and skillfully crafted vase mounted in gemstones personally collected by Louis XIV, as many deem this to be the highlight of the exhibit.

Before or after indulging in the treasures of decadent French history, make sure to find your way to the Legion Café to feast on fare inspired by the French delicacies on loan from the Louvre.  Options include Salads, Quiches, and Sandwiches named after – and fit for – the Royals themselves: “Henry XIV” takes the throne as a warm winter quiche made with butternut squash, cheddar and Monterey jack cheeses and served with a side salad. 

In anticipation of the exhibit opening, the Museum hosted a sneak peak for many of its patrons.  The black-tie fête was reminiscent of the French Court itself with long, beautifully draped banquet tables richly adorned with silver candelabras and vases of delicate pink roses. Guests mingled and made the first official sweep through the galleries while enjoying French stylized appetizers such as Smoked Chicken, Deviled Quail Egg, Ciabatta Toast and topped with Caviar. Upon being ushered into the French Court inspired tent, attendees were served a four course meal of Lobster Bisque with a Maine Lobster Medallion, Grilled Filet of Beef with Black Winter Truffles, a Cheese Course featuring a Petite Basque, and a Chocolate Pyramid – a perfectly sumptuous ode to the Musée du Louvre itself.

If the San Francisco winter weather proves to be fickle and makes a turn to the sun, take a stroll on the Legion grounds. You may not see the Eiffel Tower or L’Arc de Triomphe, but you may catch a glimpse magnifique of our own Golden Gate Bridge.

To learn more about this exhibit, please visit: http://legionofhonor.famsf.org/legion/exhibitions/royal-treasures-louvre-louis-xiv-marie-antoinette

To learn more about the Legion of Honor Café, please visit: http://legionofhonor.famsf.org/legion/visiting/legion-honor-caf