Hi again!! So where were we?? oh yes, Paris.
Saturday morning we got up early (or as early as we could drag ourselves out of bed) and headed to Versailles. After a half hour train ride, we walked up through the gilded front gates and past the line (thanks to our museum passes) and picked up our audio tour headsets. One thing's for sure: when they built this "chateau," it was go big or go home. Everything is covered in gold leaf. From the gate to the banisters and crown moulding. The first floor is the art section, where you see the former residents of the palace sculpted and painted by the masters of the time. It was also a brief history lesson so we could understand who lived here when we visited the rest of the castle. The audio tour was great--we could punch in the number at each signpost, or, if we didn't care what it was, we could skip it and keep walking. Easy to use and very informational! Next, we went upstairs and through the apartments of the Kings and Queens. Although 4 (5?) sets of monarchs lived there, obviously most things center on Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. We saw their bedchambers, receiving rooms, and the Hall of Mirrors, easily the best part of the tour. Huge chandeliers and floor to ceiling mirrors line the hallway, with amazing views of the perfectly manicured gardens on the other side. It was opulent and grand, although a little over the top. No wonder the bourgeoisie was getting a bit peeved... We didn't get out to the grounds, we were a bit pressed for time and it was VERY cold and windy. Not a fun time to explore a garden. But we hopped back on the uber-easy Paris metro and made our way back to Notre Dame for the second time.
I had hoped to get up in the towers this afternoon, but alas, that was not to be. Like the previous day, the line for the trip to the top snaked around the building, and at the end there was a sign closing it for the afternoon. Bummer. No swinging on bells like Quasi.
Our next stop was Musee l'Orangerie which had more impressionist paintings, along with Monet's huge waterlilies. They had 2 rooms to themselves and curved around the walls. The space was white and pristine, and was a perfect canvas for the amazing pieces. The museum also had an exhibit with paintings of children--most of them, the children of the painters. The same boy was painted by both Pablo Picasso and Mrs. Picasso (who, turns out, was also a painter) with an old interview with the child: he liked his mom's rendering of him better! Very cute, and very fun to see all of the children pictures put together.
A quick dinner and a bit of shopping later, we were on our way to the Tour Eiffel and Arc de Triomphe at dusk. The Eiffel Tour was breathtaking once we got off the metro--everyone was clearly heading to the same spot--and we started snapping pictures. SO much better close up than across Jersey. And then it started glittering. I don't know how often it does that, so I might never see it again, but it was AMAZING. Sparkling! Glittering! Dazzling! I made sure to get lots of pictures. Including one, taken by a very sweet frenchman, who framed the three of us girls perfectly--but neglected the huge, glittering Eiffel Tower behind us. End result: three girls against a brick wall and the faint glow of the Tower in the corner. Epic failure.
We walked from there to the Arc de Triomph (which, strangely, is very complicated. one would think it would be a pretty straight shot...) and finally got a good picture of us! The Arc, as you know, is in the middle of the world's most famous traffic circle, and running across it is taking your life in your hands. But wow, it's pretty!! From there, we strolled down Ave Champs-Elysses among the rich and famous, and tourists just like us. It was beautiful and very alive at that time at night.
The next morning, we went though the Catacombs, which can be accurately described by the phrase "lots of bones." Kind of cool, VERY CREEPY. They tell you not to go down if you have a "nervous disposition" or claustrophobia, and that's very true. The bones are neatly placed in rows on either side of you, but there is nothing between them and you. You could touch one if you wanted! Ick. The coolest part was realizing you were so far down, you're under the metro system and the sewers. 6 million Parisians (including, they think, Marie Antoinette) were buried there. The only time i got rained on the whole trip was a drip from the ceiling of the catacombs. Right on the face. EWWW!! Chilling and gross.
Our trip in Paris was at an end. After one last Starbucks stop, we boarded the bus back to Beauvais and the plane back to Roma. All in all, a wonderful, memorable weekend!!! I had so much fun and saw SO much!! Can't wait for my trip back!