Paris Part II
Oops, it’s been way too long since my Paris Part I post, but I’ve been busy writing a 50-page paper (blech), traveling (yay!), and celebrating my 21st birthday (woohoo!). But I’m back to continue the recap of my very cold but very awesome trip to Paris.
The following morning, we took a train to Versailles to see Louis XIV’s famed palace. Living in Europe, I’ve seen so many palaces and other fancy buildings that they rarely excite me anymore, but Versailles was still pretty interesting to see. I hear Marie Antoinette’s cottage and gardens are fantastic, but we couldn’t see them due to the snow. We did still get to see lots of gold, ornate bedrooms, the Hall of Mirrors, and other gaudy decorations.
Me outside Versailles.
After Versailles, we returned to Paris and made a second trip to see the Eiffel Tower, this time hoping to climb it. The third and fourth stories were closed because of the weather, and we figured going to the second story wouldn’t be worth it (especially because it would be miserably cold, and, anyway, I’d been there when I was six). We crossed over to the Trocadéro, where a multicultural Christmas fair was set up, took a few photos with the Eiffel Tower in the background, and then sought warmth.
Me + Sara + Eiffel Tower.
We visited the Musée d’Orsay, which features mostly late 19th century/early 20th century art (Van Gogh, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, etc.), not my favorite style of art, but there was also a temporary exhibition on Art Nouveau and Art Nouveau Revival (basically psychedelic graphic design of the 1960s) that I loved. And the museum itself, a converted train station, is very pretty.
I think we returned to the hostel after that and then went back out at night to see the Champs-Élysées, the main boulevard in Paris that leads to the Arc de Triomphe. The trees lining the boulevard were adorned with Christmas lights, and the sidewalks were filled with booths selling food and Christmas gifts. Like all of Paris, freezing, but awesome. The walk to the Arc de Triomphe seemed to take ages, but we eventually arrived triumphantly (ha ha) at the Arc. From there, we took the metro back to Montmartre, where we stopped to eat crepes (I got a nutella and banana one; oh my gosh, so good) and then got a better view of the city from the Sacré Cœur than we had the first night, thanks to clearer weather. We walked around the area, seeing some really cute shops and restaurants, and then called it a night.
Champs-Élysées lit up for Christmas.
Near the Sacré Cœur.
Our final day in Paris began with a trip to the Catacombes, which contains thousands of bones from bodies that were removed from the Paris cemeteries when some geniuses thought cemeteries spread diseases. Essentially, the Catacombes are a series of seemingly endless dark, narrow, underground tunnels filled with skulls and other bones stacked floor to ceiling. Super creepy, but very fun. It’s kind of surreal realizing the bones once belonged to real humans.
After the Catacombes, we got nutella crepes from a street vendor (because, clearly, dead people stirred our appetite), and then we went to see the Bastille monument and took pictures of us “storming the Bastille [monument].” Speaking of which, one of my greatest life goals is to visit Prague just so I can take a picture of me defenestrating someone. Then we saw the Basilique de Saint-Denis, which contains the tombs of Marie Antoinette and lots of other Parisian royalty.
And that concluded our trip to Paris. As our plane took off, we caught a last glimpse of the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Good stuff. Paris is a gorgeous city and full of interesting sights. I’d love to go back there in the spring some time and slowly wander the streets of the city and get a feel for the atmosphere of the place, because if Paris was that great when we were rushing from one sight to the next to avoid the cold, it must be spectacular when the weather’s good. I always figured Paris must be kind of overrated, but now I completely understand why so many people love Paris.
On a side note, my one quarter of French I took last year didn’t exactly make me fluent enough to communicate with Parisians, but most spoke English, and I was able to say a few simple things in French and understand a bit, so that was fun!
As always, check out my Facebook album here.
Hooray, I’ve finally finished writing about my trips from the first leg of my Spain adventure! Next up, Barcelona!