Lovely Paris in November (Part 3)

January 22, 2015 at 4:43 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Day 6

It’s good to be the King! Today we spent the whole day at Versailles, the famed palace of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

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Iit was actually the brain-child of Louis XIV, so three kings claimed it as a residence before the bourgeoisie stormed the gates. We toured all of the apartments, marveling at the size and grandeur of the rooms, the ornate furniture and paintings, and the incredible opulence this home provided. Back in St. Denis I felt a pang of sorrow for the unfortunate royal duo…now I was thinking, “Off with their heads!” I mean, seriously, who needs all this stuff? We ended our tour of the chateau in the grand Hall of Mirrors, decked out in gold and, your guessed it, tons of mirrors. We stopped for a selfie. And to admire this adorable gold baby’s butt. Lookit the little dimples! Awwwwww!DSC_0147

Then we spent hours wandering the grounds. We picked the wrong time of year for fountains and flowers – all the statues were covered, the fountains were off, and the flowers were dead. But you still got a sense of the expansive space. We certainly did, at least. Trams are for sissies!

We checked out the Grand Trianon and the Petit Trainon, which were essentially smaller estates for guests and relatives. No less ridiculously opulent. Then we got a little, erm, lost on the way to Marie Antoinette’s Estate. Some other tourists had stopped to ask us for directions earlier, so I know we weren’t the only ones! We had a map and we still lost our way. Who needs this much land for their house?! Off with their heads, I tell ya!

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Finally we made it! Marie Antoinette wasn’t particularly fond of her bizarre hubby, so she spent a lot of her time on her own part of the grounds with her ladies. She had all of these little houses built, sort of like play houses for a very rich, spoiled child.

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Day 7

We slept in until 10:30, a first in 6 years! Not feeling terribly refreshed, we spent an adventurous morning in a French pharmacy trying to procure more cold medicine. They had nothing I could take, and only a powder that James could mix to help with his cough. Only one more day until we headed back for the States, so it had to suffice.

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Of course we couldn’t leave without some souvenirs, this one being the cutest. We got some things for my parents, as well, for watching our precocious munchkin all week while we had ourselves a little babymoon.

We popped into the Crypt at Notre Dame, which had been closed the day we climbed the tower. It detailed all of the history of the Ile De La Cite, dating back to roman times. All very fascinating. 

DSC_0178We spent the rest of the afternoon touring Chateau Vincennes, a medieval castle where Charles V ruled in the 1300s. We pretty much had the place to ourselves, and after all of the opulence of Versailles, it was a nice change of pace to see a more Spartan, utilitarian castle. Seems all that inbreeding started to go to their heads around the 1600s.

Up a flight of stairs and we encountered Charles V’s war room, a stately, quite small room where he planned his battles for the Hundred Years War. A docent inside handed us an iPad, and as we swung it around the room we could see how it had been decorated back in the day. Gotta love technology!

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Then it was across the bridge and into the castle, the only entrance into the fortress. Most of the adornments had been stripped away, but you could still imagine it as a cold, yet spacious residence.

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On the grounds was a chapel with, you guessed it, more stained glass. This was the first sunny day in Paris since we’d arrived on that unusually warm Sunday, so the photos turned out airy and bright for once.

We were too tired and run down to attempt to tour the Arc d’Triomphe, so instead we headed to McDonald’s for dinner, sort of a tradition we have when we travel to Europe. I couldn’t leave without trying a McRoyale with Cheese, like Vince Vega talks about in Pulp Fiction! I should have stuck with my gut – upon perusing the menu I opted for a new sandwich instead, something called L’M, which wasn’t all that good. But, really, when is McDonald’s ever all that good, even in a foreign country? Still, we had to try it.

The next morning we took a dark, foggy shuttle ride to the airport, and while our driver did various pick-ups around town, we passed right by the Arc d’Triomphe. So now we could cross that off our list!

The week before we left, and all while we were in Paris, I was reading My Life in France by Julia Child, which I found utterly delightful. I’d even gone so far as to look up her and her husband’s first apartment on my google maps app, but we didn’t get a chance to see it while we were there. Maybe next time. I’m not much of a cook, but what I found most interesting about Ms. Child was her willingness to whole-heartedly embrace her surroundings. She and her husband lived in France, Germany, and Norway, and each time she would take the time to learn the language, shop the local markets and cook the local cuisine, and see all the sights. I hope I’ll do the same if James gets one of these jobs in Europe.

The plane ride home was almost as bad as the ride up with my continuing cold, and I’m sure it was worse for James, who was in steady decline. So while we had a wonderful time, we were both ready to be home, sleep in our own bed, and give lots of hugs and kisses to our boy.

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