Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Le Violon d'Ingres

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780 – 1867) is known primarily as a French Neoclassical painter, particularly famous for his skill as a portrait artist.

He also enjoys a certain linguistic distinction. According to Wikipedia:

Ingres's well-known passion for playing the violin gave to the French language a colloquialism, "violon d'Ingres", meaning a second skill beyond the one by which a person is mainly known. The American avant-garde artist Man Ray used this expression as the title of a famous photograph portraying Alice Prin (aka Kiki de Montparnasse) in the pose of the Valpinçon Bather.

Personally, I think "Kiki de Montparnasse" is a delightful sobriquet. But I digress.

Le Violon d'Ingres is also the name of a very nice restaurant in the 7th arrondissement, not far from the Eiffel Tower.

This past Sunday evening I joined my friends, Ellen and Leslie, there for dinner. We had a most enjoyable time. If you go, be sure to order the cassoulet. My fish (dos de Saint Pierre, literally "St Peter's back", i.e. John Dory) was cooked to perfection, but Ellen and Leslie both had the cassoulet, which I secretly coveted throughout the meal. I might as well come clean and confess that I also secretly coveted Ellen's souffle with caramel sauce as well, though my own strudel was perfectly fine, if a bit minimalist. But the restaurant is beautiful, the service was welcoming and attentive, without being obtrusive - it was a very pleasant evening. You might want to save your trip there for a special occasion, though; prices were in the moderately expensive range. Also, you will need to make your reservation about a week in advance.

Violon d'Ingres web page

It was a rainy Sunday evening, but when we left the restaurant, it was just around 11:00 pm, so the Eiffel tower hourly light show was in full swing. It was kitschy, but somehow magical as well.

Youtube video of the Eiffel Tower.
Ellen is my most reliable source for fun things to do in Paris. But now writing this post has reawakened my craving for cassoulet!


  1. I want to return to Paris and see the Eiffel Tower light show! How's that for high-brow fun?