Posts Tagged With: French Revolution

Let Them Eat Cake and Walk 4 Miles

July 29 2012

We had breakfast at the hotel again. It was so delicious. I had my fill of croissants, mini baguettes, brioche, sugar rolls, and cheese. I asked them for ice this morning because I was getting sick of room temperature water. What a difference! Paris needs to learn about air conditioning and ice.

We took the metro to the Invalides stop where we purchased tickets for a train to Versailles. We didn’t have to wait long before the train arrived. The train wound up being packed! Unfortunately we chose seats that were facing the wrong direction. So we rode backwards. The train was stuffy and riding backwards was making me sick. We passed Paris’ copy/version of the Statue of Liberty. I took a really bad picture of it because I wasn’t expecting to see it. The train ride to Versailles was about an hour long.

My mom and I crossed the street and she stopped at a Starbucks to use the ladies room. Then we walked about four blocks to the chateau. I knew it was huge but a new word needs to be invented for how big Versailles really is. It was an incredible sight to see. We passed a guy dressed as King Tut which was super random and funny. We saw two enormous lines. I knew one was for ticket holders and one was for people with tickets. I got on line and sent my mom to make sure we got on the right line. We had. I had purchased an all access pass online for a lot of money (either 25E or 50E a piece-I think). The line moved very slowly. I was glad we already had tickets or we would have had to wait on two lines. About an hour later we were in. At that point I needed to use the ladies room. Time to wait on another line. There was no paper in the bathroom and I only knew this because I overheard the ladies speaking in Spanish ahead of me. However, they had their own. When they were done and told me to go in next. In Spanish I turned to them and said but isn’t there no paper. Then they bust out laughing. I waited for a stall with paper. While I waited I watched several women walk into a mirror at the bottom of the stairs.

I met up with my mom who was not happy that an art exhibit was being displayed in some of the rooms in Versailles. The art was loud and ostentatious and took away from the beauty of Versailles. We waited for our headsets that were included in the price. The headset was like a walkie talkie and I didn’t like holding it up to my ear so I took out my headphones and plugged them in. They were worked beautifully. Versailles was packed, but the beauty and architecture of the place was incredible. The audio was very informative. I just couldn’t believe that I was walking around in Versailles. I had seen these rooms in movies, documentaries, and in books. I could feel the history around me. I easily could have closed my eyes and pictured King Louis XVI and his contemporaries around me. The Hall of Mirrors was exquisite. There was a random pair of giant high heels in the room. Another room contained a pink helicopter. It seriously was a strange art exhibit.

We saw a sign for Angelina. We have been trying to get to the one on Rue di Rivoli but kept missing it because they close early. So I was like lets do this! We don’t normally eat at places that are part of historical sites because of the cost, but you only live once. There was a short line. You had to tell them whether you wanted to go to the restaurant portion or the quick take out area. We chose the take out bakery area. My mom grabbed a table and I waited on the line for food. About 15 minutes later I emerged with a water bottle, their famous Mont Blanc, and a chocolate macalon (which is basically a long chocolate macaroon). Our deserts were delicious! Now we could say we ate at Versailles. The bathroom had the cutest sign (see the picture below). There was no toilet paper again.

Next we finished up the top level and went downstairs to the children’s bedrooms. Then we did the gift shop. I got postcards and a book. We returned our headsets and went out to the entrance of the gardens. We showed our tickets to prove that we had paid the gardens entrance fee. We went on a day where the fountains were on and music was playing. I wanted to take a hop on hop off tram to see all the sites, but my mom felt 10E a person was too much (even though I was going to pay for it). Hours later my feet would regret listening to her. THE GARDENS ARE MASSIVE! They are also beautiful. You are definitely transported to another time. We posed for pictures with the fountains and statues. Then we started our long walk to the Grand Trianon. About 30 minutes later we still weren’t there so we sat on the side of the road and ate some food from breakfast. We kept going and finally saw it.

The building has a pink hue to it. We showed our all inclusive ticket again. The interior looks a lot like the interior of the chateau, but with a little less gold. They had a lot of portraits out for us to see. It was commissioned by King Louis XIV and was residence to mistresses and many of the royal maidens. Next we walked to the restrooms which weren’t the best but they got the job done. There were bees so I was seriously freaked out. We walked further down the road and saw a sign for another Angelina. That sign made us completely miss the sign for the entrance to the Petit Trianon. So we never went in there, which meant I missed seeing the theater Marie had built. We kept walking to the Hamlet (about 3.5 miles from the beginning). We were beyond exhausted at this point. I felt I could collapse right there and then. We showed our tickets again and spent about 5 minutes walking around. It felt like a zoo and we were too tired to pay attention at this point. We walked back to the area outside of the Petit Trianon (again not realizing it). We waited for the tram and paid 5E to get back to the entrance of the gardens. As we started to drive away it started to rain. We walked back to the train in the pouring rain. We decided to stop at the McDonald’s to get out of the rain and to use the restroom. This was not your average McDonald’s. It was clean and modern looking. They also had a bakery. We bought a box of reasonably priced macaroons.

We boarded the train back into Paris and it was packed. My mom and I took a seat on the floor. We didn’t want to stand for an hour. We got off at Gare d’Austerlitz. Then we took two trains to get to the Moulin Rouge.

Categories: Europe, Family Vacation, Food, France, History, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hanging with Quasimodo and Storming the Bastille

July 28 2012

About a block away from Sainte Chapelle was Place St. Michel. My mom and I went and took a picture. Then we headed to Notre Dame. I was really excited about finally seeing it. We walked along the Seine and people watched as we walked. When we finally turned the corner and saw it I was struck by how beautiful Notre Dame really was. We waited on a line to get in. The line to get in moved quickly and I spent the time on line just staring at the building.

Once inside we walked all around. It was very dark so the pictures I took didn’t really come out well. It was peaceful and if we weren’t in a rush to see all of Paris in two days then I would have sat and took it all in. While walking around I kept looking for the line to go into the tower. Since we couldn’t find it we finally stopped and asked someone. They told us the line was outside by the side of the building.

We went outside and saw that the line was huge! It was an entire block long. I didn’t know what to do. I really wanted to go up into the tower, but I hadn’t planned on spending a lot of time on line. I hoped the line would only be 30 minutes so I waited. My mom left me to walk around a bit. She came back 30 minutes later and I was still on line. She took everything but my camera and museum pass from me. I’m so glad she did! After another 30 minutes I was let in. You stop at a gift shop first to buy tickets. The guard saw my museum pass in my hand and let me go straight up! I got a 10 minute jump on the rest of the group. I’m glad I did because climbing those stairs were not easy. I was out of breath. When I finally got to the top I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The view was incredible! I could have looked at it all day. I loved the gargoyles. They had so much personality. One of them was in Hunchback of Notre Dame (the Disney movie). I visited the bell tower and wasn’t too fond of the small wooden staircase. After that I thought we were headed back down, but I was wrong. Time to climb even higher! The view from the very top was fantastic. The space was tight and I was looking forward to being on solid ground again. The climb down seemed to take forever since it was now 3 levels at once. It made a lot of us dizzy. However, I am so glad I did it. The wait was worth it. It was probably my favorite part of the trip.

I met up with my mom and we started our walk to the Pantheon. Along the way we passed a lot of great stores and bakeries. We stopped in one because they had souvenirs at a decent price. I had over 20 people to buy for so I stocked up. Traffic was crazy and it was fun to watch the activities of the city as we walked. We passed a Hippy thrift store, but unfortunately they were closed. We turned a corner and looked left and there was the Pantheon. It looked like it belonged in Washington DC. We stopped at the top of the steps and sat at the base of the columns. We pulled out the remaining food from breakfast and ate. We had a lovely view of the Eiffel Tower from our position.

Time for the museum pass again. We walked around inside. The inside was filled with tributes to the French Revolution and the enlightenment thinkers. The pendulum was cool to watch. We went downstairs into the crypt and saw the tombs of the enlightenment thinkers. I have spent so much time learning about these figures and teaching them. It was strange to see them before me. We used the ladies room and then it was time to head to another site related to the French Revolution.

As we walked to the metro we passed a wedding party. The area near the metro seemed quaint, almost as if it didn’t belong in a city. The metro went outdoors and my inner 5 yr old was excited. I loved seeing the different neighborhoods as we passed by. We got off at the stop for the Bastille. I had read that a piece of the old Bastille still exists in the metro station and there is a line in the station showing where the Bastille was. We easily found it and I was so excited by it. None of the other tourists realized what it was. We exited the train and immediately saw the Place de la Bastille. There isn’t much to see. I liked the subway portion better. It is worth going to if you are a history person and just want to say you were at the site. Otherwise, you can skip it. On a different note, I had spent the last day and half looking for the famous Paris metro art nouveau signs. I finally found them around the Bastille! They were great. My mom loved them as well.

Categories: Europe, Family Vacation, France, History, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spending Time with the Prisoners of the French Revolution

July 28 2012

We woke up early and had breakfast at the hotel since it was included in the price. The buffet was great! There was some hot food, but I ate my weight in different breads and cheeses. They had all these sweet breads with sugar, chocolate, and jam. Bread and cheese, my kind of heaven. I took some food to eat later in the day.

We took the metro and walked a couple of blocks to Place du Chatelet. There were sphinxes. So I posed for a couple of pictures. It gave us a great view of the Conciergerie. We walked along the seine. There was a fake beach set up. We walked to Hotel del Ville. The architecture was absolutely incredible. There was a HUGE tv with bean bag chairs set up so people could watch the Olympics.

Next we walked to Sainte Chapelle. We passed the Conciergerie and Palais de Justice. We were coming back to Conciergerie since it is not a popular attraction. We took pictures from the outside of the Palais de Justice. We joined the line for Sainte Chapelle. The line moved very quickly. Then there was a second line for tickets. We got to skip that line because of the Paris Museum Pass. The bottom level is pretty much the gift shop. We bought some pens for people. We took the winding stairs (very claustrophobic) to the room with all the stained glass. I was expecting to be amazed, but I wasn’t. It was just pretty. They were doing some construction work which took away from it. People hyped the windows up so much so I had high expectations. I couldn’t believe it was just one room. We exited by the Palace de Justice and headed next door to the Conciergerie.

We used the Paris Museum Pass again. The Conciergerie is where they held Marie Antoinette before they beheaded her. We got to see her cell and what the other cells looked like. We also got to see items from the revolution. I enjoyed it. They had picnic tables so we sat down and ate our leftovers from breakfast for lunch. Then we used the ladies room and left.

Categories: Europe, Family Vacation, Food, France, History, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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