Week Ten: Spring Break (Part II)

Are you happy to be in Paris?
To pick up from where we left off, I arrived in Paris on Tuesday afternoon! After traveling for what felt like years, we stepped out for our day and it was absolutely beautiful outside. It was the first day since I’ve been in Europe that I didn’t have to wear a coat. We took advantage of this weather and walked to the Eiffel Tower. The best thing about visiting attractions on weekdays is the significantly less amount of people visiting. We decided to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower because there was a hardly a line. Also, what better way is there to start your trip in Paris? I was worried once I got up there I would regret not bringing my coat, but it was still perfect up top. In case some don’t know, I’ve been to Paris before, but I was in ninth grade so I don’t remember a lot. When I got to the top, I’m not sure if it was the smog that was cast over the city, but I felt slightly disappointed by the view. It’s probably my own fault for being like everyone else in the world not from Paris and romanticizing and idealizing it, but I realized how homogeneous the architecture of Paris was aside from its main attractions. I kept looking for specific things I could pinpoint my eye on, but there wasn’t really anything other than the Seine that made me look around and think, “I’m in Paris!” Of course, I’m still happy we went and even if I couldn’t find something to prove it, I was, in fact, in Paris.
After the tower, we walked all the way to the Champs-Élysées. Why did we walk? Who knows! I guess because it was a nice day and we had a short day planned, we figured it wouldn’t be too bad. It was bad though. The only upside was that we had nice weather, but there wasn’t much to look at along the journey except the Seine. Once we finally got there, we walked the whole street to get to the Arc de Triomphe. We didn’t go to the top of the Arc, but we got the pictures we wanted. Also, the Abercrombie & Fitch on the Champs-Élysées was really extravagant and I’m still trying to figure out why. If you ever go, you can’t miss it. There’s also a good looking gentleman outside to lure you in, so again, you can’t miss it. We didn’t spend too much time in the area and ended up heading back to the hostel for an early night since we were so exhausted. The best thing about walking back to our hostel is that we can see the Eiffel Tower lit up at night when it looks its best.
The next day, we traveled to the Palace of Versailles. In my head, I thought the estate would be big, but I wasn’t nearly as prepared as I should have been to cover so much ground. We had a full package ticket which included the Château, the Châteaux de Trianon, the Estate of Marie-Antoinette and the Parc. The Château alone was enormous. It was your classic museum style where every room was decked with paintings, but many rooms also included the original furniture. There were some odd color schemes going on throughout the palace, but that’s beside the point. The main highlights were the King and Queen’s chambers and the Hall of Mirrors. As you can expect, there were far too many people to get any really good pictures or to actually take in all of the greatness the palace had to offer, but it was still nice to be there. After we grabbed lunch, we headed outside to the gardens. The gardens were so neat and beautiful, but there was construction on one of the major fountains that was right in the middle of the view. None of the other fountains were turned on either because I’m assuming the pipelines are all connected, meaning they couldn’t have them on while one fountain was uprooted. I personally think this took away from the overall appeal of the gardens, but everything was still beautiful and green. We then headed to Marie-Antoinette’s estate also known as Le Grand Trianon. Le Petit Trianon wasn’t that interesting or impressive so I won’t talk about it. I was wondering why so many people were buying mini train tickets and renting bikes, but again, there was a group decision to walk. Would I have spent four euros if I’d known how far it was? Yes. I will say the person working at the information desk could have explained it better as well. I think when you tell someone to follow the path and turn at the first left, you should probably mention that there’s another 20 minutes to your journey after that. I was so tired by this point, but the view was absolutely worth it. It wasn’t even the estate that I was mesmerized by, but the gardens and the Parc were breathtaking. When you imagine Versailles, you imagine the circular pattern of the gardens and these can be found in Marie-Antoinette’s estate. It’s definitely difficult to capture on camera when you’re not in a position to take a helicopter view picture. I tried my best to capture the views, but I don’t think I did it justice. I wanted to sit there forever. Her estate inside was also nice and because most people don’t pay for the full package, it was more enjoyable for me to actually take my time and observe everything and allow history to present itself before me. I couldn’t imagine her living so far away from the main estate all alone, but I also realized that I would have wanted that if I were her. Eventually, we had to bite the bullet and make the trek back to where we came from. It took what felt like forever and a day, but we made it and we made it back into Paris.
To end our night, we visited the Catacombs. The Catacombs host six million bodies beneath the city. It was a very short tour and honestly I thought it would be scarier, but it was still cool to experience and again, allow history to present itself before me. What was also interesting about the Catacombs was how they not only had historical facts, but a lot of geological facts. I guess it’s naive of me to think most people wouldn’t be interested in it, but how else can we explain how the Catacombs were formed and remain thus far? I would recommend it. It’s cheap, it’s something to do, and it’s not scary. In the slightest. Unless rows of skulls freak you out regardless, then I can’t help you.

Eiffel Tower
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Arc de Triomphe
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Château de Versailles
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Châteaux de Trianon
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The Estate of Marie-Antoinette
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