Day 2 – Paris, France
Today we found a cash station before heading to the metro once again. We found one around the block from our hotel with a people mover underground to the next large train station, St. Michel, Notre Dame. From there we rode for a half hour and got off on the wrong stop, which led us to a 15-minute walk to the Palace of Versailles.
As we approached the palace, the massive golden gates towered at the entrance. It was hard to imagine anyone living in such a massive residence. Thanks to our museum pass, we avoided the long, meandering ticket lines. I tried to use the Rick Steve’s audio walking tour, but crowds and noise made it difficult to concentrate.
King Louis XIV was quite a guy-power hungry and materialistic. He had a separate bedroom from his wife. However, his room held a secret door leading to other chambers as well. The war room had paintings on the ceiling to intimidate neighboring countries. The images show France, and the King in particular, overtaking each country.
The Hall of Mirrors was pretty as well, built opposite the enormous windows, allowing the mirrors to show Louis’ magnificent gardens below. He had long canals built, to imitate those of Venice. Guests were treated to gondola rides in his own, spectacular backyard.
We found phone cards and called home. Then we hopped back on the metro, this time to Musee D’Orsay, converted from an old railway station. It was gorgeous, with its Roman sculptures and paintings. We found Claude Monet’s rooms, once again, packed with tourists. To see Monet’s and Van Gogh’s famous paintings in person was incredible.
After this, we found the quintessential Parisian café and enjoyed beef and chicken (which looked much like the chicken) but tasted magnifique. They served French fries with it, a little strange.
As we walked to the metro, I couldn’t help snapping photos of the tiny cars parked on the street. Even the vans are like miniature versions of the U.S. cars. We plopped down on the grass beside the Eiffel Tower and enjoyed golf ball sized scoops of chocolate ice cream.
At 9 p.m., twinkling lights flashed on the tower, but lasted only a few minutes. The sun had barely set by 9:15, so we rushed down the steps to the boat stand. We bought tickets for the last river cruise back to Notre Dame. Unfortunately, this cruise was not narrated. However, the glass windows on the top of the boat provided a nice view.