Paris: Day 6 – “Let them eat cake!”

When I first announced I was beginning my trip in Paris, 80% of the responses were essentially “You cannot leave without visiting Versailles!” But of course Versailles was already on my list, though unlike most I cared less about the chateau, which I’ve personally always thought looked a bit too ornate, and more about the magnificent gardens.

As it was my first time in France, I thought booking a couple of tours for my solo day-trips to avoid ending up on a random train to the French countryside, not that I would’ve really minded. I met up with the rest of the tour group at around 8:30 AM at a cute café in the 15th arrondissement, where I grabbed a croissant and a water bottle since we’d be spending at least two hours exploring exploring the gardens in upper 90 degree weather.

Can I just say that while I hate taking the train to work every day back home, I find commuter trains around Europe to be super relaxing.  The ride from Paris to Versailles was definitely no more than 30-40 minutes and before I knew it we were strolling up and around the Chateau of Versailles to the Gardens of Versailles. There are two things that call to me when I travel: bookstore and gardens, due in part to my large Alice in Wonderland obsession.

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Our tour guide was super knowledgable while we walked through the gardens, explaining to us the historic significance of certain areas, greek mythology behind many of the ornate fountains and how Louis XIV wanted the largest, most intricate garden of all his friends; kind of like neighbors trying to have the greatest BBQ during football season.

One of my favorite fountains was designed around the greek story of Leto.

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In case you’re unfamiliar with greek mythology, he’s a little backstory: Leto was one of Zeus’s, yes that Zeus, favorite lovers. Eventually, Leto became pregnant, however by this point Zeus just about to marry Hera. Even though Leto became pregnant before the marriage, Hera was still very jealous and began to cause numerous problems for Leto, eventually have her kicked out of Olympus. Leto was than forced to wander earth where, no matter how much she tried, could not find anyone who would allow her to stay with them out of their fear of offending Hera. Hera also did a few other pety things such as sending a dragon to chase Hera, a situation that Zeus saved her from by sending the North Wind to push her out to sea, but anyway; eventually, after trying every else, Leto convinced the rocky island of Delos, where nobody else wanted to stay, to house her. Eventually she goes into labor, and a bunch of goddesses fly on in to help her. After nine days of labor, she births Artemis. Still fleeing Hera’s wrath, she runs to Lycia. When she gets there she’s thirsty and begs the peasants for water for her and her son, which they refuse. So upset by their refusal to help her and her baby, Leto decides that if they won’t let her drink the water than they shall live in it and turns them all into frogs and other amphibians.

I know, and I thought high school drama was bad.

If you look closely at the various tiers of the fountain, you can see that they go from people, to people changing, and finally on the last level, they are full-blown frogs.

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After a two hour tour of the gardens, we were supposed to be given our tickets for the chateau, which we could roam at our leisure, and our ticket for the train home. However, while we got to bypass the three hour long lines that the rest of those visiting Versailles were on, the palace actually lost our tickets to enter for about 35-40 minutes, an eternity when it’s 97 degrees. And yes, I did get the world’s worst sunburn on my back, which eventually led to the world’s most awkward tan line..but I digress.

I’d compare walking through the palace to sitting in morning commuter traffic. On one hand, you’re moving so slowly you have time to look around, yet on the other hand, the 27 people on each side of you make it hard to see everything that you’d like to see. But still the palace was marvelous, and I was glad I had the experience to see it. Naturally, everyone went crazy once we made it to the Hall of Mirrors, but my favorite picture came from a completely empty spot I stumbled upon while making my way to the exit.

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#TheRoadLessTraveled ?

But I mean, in all honesty, the Hall of Mirrors is something special, especially the ceilings.

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After attempting to wait on the line at Angelina, within the chateau, as I was ravenous, I ended up quitting and walking to the Starbucks about a block from the train station.

FYI, Starbucks in the U.S. will never compare. It was rare to pass a Starbucks in Europe that didn’t have full-sized cheesecakes and decadent desserts in the window display.

After dying of heat on the way back to Paris, before hopping aboard a bus to with no air-conditioning to my apartment, I ran straight to my studio and straight into the shower where I think I may have stayed for about 45 minutes, just cooling down.

I also collapsed for a few, but by this point it was around 4:30 PM and I don’t believe in wasting perfectly good sightseeing time. Even though it was an hour and a half until closing, I decided to make the short walk to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, a museum I had wanted to see. And no, it had nothing to do with the new Barbie exhibit, but that part was equally as fun to see.

If you’re interested in the evolution of fashion, or fashion in general or even the fashion and design of Barbie, this museum might be right up your alley. I didn’t get to see as mnay museums as I would’ve liked to in Paris, and I’ll 100% add more to my agenda next time I’m back, but this gem was a great addition to my trip; I even spent the last twenty minutes in the gift shop. Highly recommended.

 

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Little added tidbit about Louis XVI

Our tour guide told us that Louis XVI loved showing off his calves in portraits. Why? Because he was actually a very talented ballet dancer, something which was popular amongst the rich and royal. Back then, if you had very muscular calves, people knew you were well-off as you most likely danced. However, if you had muscular arms, you were most likely poor and worked in the fields, doing manual labor. This seems like a simple fun fact, but in reality it makes walking through the chateau slightly humorous, when you realize Louis XVI poses the way one of your girlfriends would when she wants a good Instagram photo.

And if you won’t make it to Versailles for a while, try Googling “Louis XVI calves”.

You’re welcome.

 

Read about the rest of our Paris escapade:

Paris: Day 7 – A Little Old House with a Garden (2016)

Paris: Day 6 – “Let them eat cake!” (2016)

Paris: Day 5 – Strolling the Île de la Cité (2016)

Paris: Day 4 – How to Become a Parisian in One Hour (2016)

Paris: Day 3 –  Il a été tout a commencé avec une souris (2016)

Paris: Day 2 – I See Dead People (2016)

Paris: Day 1 – Lost in the City of Love (2016)

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Paris: Day 5 -Strolling the Île de la Cité

We woke up at the crack of dawn, as my boyfriend had to catch a flight back home for work; leaving me on what would become my first semi-solo trip ever. After grabbing coffee and McGriddles (just the syrup filled bread guys. As in, no sausage sold at this McDonalds) and bidding adieu to him at the RER line, which he’d take over to Charles de Gaulle Airport, I figured there was no better time than the present to head over to the Lourve.

The way I’d describe the courtyard surrounding the Louvre early in the morning, is mid-day at a block party, mid-summer. There were lines of impatient children and some impatient parents in every direction. Children were jumping barefoot in the fountain. And I even some one family that did the unimaginable in Paris…yes, wear matching Family Reunion 2016 tees.

Though I had planned every other day perfectly, I didn’t get into the Louvre. Not that I couldn’t have, but 98 degree weather is not the place to wait in these lines. Top of my list for my next trip to Paris: skip-the-line or pre-booked tickets. I did get offered a discount skip-the-line ticket but what seemed to be a sweet couple whose friend couldn’t make the trip, but being from New York, I’m very weary when it comes to buying tickets off of people. But the Louvre is still magnificent from the outside.

 

 

After stopping at the local Franprix and G20 for a few small groceries and toiletries for the apartment, I made the mistake of laying down for a minute. I’m not sure if it was the heat or the days prior finally catching up to me, but I ended up falling asleep for about an hour.

Finally I re-collected myself and hopped aboard the metro to Cite. If only the New York subway had such specific stops, I wouldn’t encounter so many lost tourists per commute.

Let me start by saying that the Île de la Cité ended up being one of my favorite parts of Paris and I could’ve spent at least two days there, just strolling along the streets.

First stop on my agenda: Notre Dame de Paris

For most, it may be the Eiffel Tower, but for me when I think of quintessential Paris, I think of Notre Dame. I was also the only child who obsessed over the Disney adaption of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which I feel was such a ridiculously underrated film within the franchise. But most fifth graders probably weren’t heartbroken watching Quasimodo harassed by society for a flaw that he had no control over. But that’s for another rant. Notre Dame de Paris really is one of those sites that just make you feel very “Wow, I’m really here” and I actually sat down, even in the heat, and just enjoyed being in the presence of such a structure for a few minutes.

I strolled across the small island, taking in sites of the Concierge and Sainte-Chapelle Cathedral before crossing the Pont St.-Louis to the Île Saint-Louis. The heat was finally getting to me and I had a destination in mind: Berthillon. Unlike what I’d heard about lines, there was only one family in front of me to order the famous ice cream I’d seen numerous Instagram photos of. Though I was leaning towards chocolate, I made a last second decision to try the apricot sorbet in a cone. You guys, if my eyes were closed I would’ve sworn I was biting into an apricot. If I ever went back, I might even consider missing out on a new flavor, just to have another scoop (or two) this.

After regretfully finishing my sorbet, I took  short walk to Shakespeare & Co. It was hard to not start humming the opening song from Beauty & the Beast, because that’s exactly the vibe this bookstore gave off. Little tidbit on myself: I will literally never not walk into a bookstore that I pass. I also can’t leave without buying a book; which is why I ended up leaving with Asylum by Moriz Scheyer, The Drone Eats with Me: A Gaza Diary by Atef Abu Saif and a nicely covered version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

I may have hit all my destinations but I wasn’t through with this beautiful part of Paris just yet. I spent the next hour strolling along the River Seine admiring all the various artwork and used books being sold; and, as an avid people watcher, admiring all the different people as they admired Paris. There were families, and couples of various stages and even some solo travelers, similar to myself.

Hands down, one of my favorite days in Paris.

The remainder of the night was spent munching on salami and fresh cheese and baguettes in my apartment and watching re-runs of Skins on Netflix.

A relaxing end to an amazing day.

 

Read about the rest of our Paris escapade:

Paris: Day 7 – A Little Old House with a Garden (2016)

Paris: Day 6 – “Let them eat cake!” (2016)

Paris: Day 5 – Strolling the Île de la Cité (2016)

Paris: Day 4 – How to Become a Parisian in One Hour (2016)

Paris: Day 3 –  Il a été tout a commencé avec une souris (2016)

Paris: Day 2 – I See Dead People (2016)

Paris: Day 1 – Lost in the City of Love (2016)

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Paris: Day 4 – How to Become a Parisian in One Hour

Our fourth day ended up being the most packed day up to that point, that maybe this entry should be entitled “How to Become a Parisian in One Day.” But as tired as we were by the end of the day, you could never be too tired to explore Paris.

But that morning I woke with a craving for familiar breakfast foods, other than croissants and bread. Maybe we didn’t go to the right places, but the only quick breakfast items we could find were strictly bread related. Which is always fine and acceptable while away from home, but I needed something different.

Lucky for us, typing “Breakfast” in Apple Maps, led us to Breakfast in America, specifically Breakfast in America 3, as there are multiple locations in Paris.

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The whole restaurant looks like a throwback to 50s American diners, complete with posters of various California locations. It was pretty empty when we arrived except for one other couple, but we didn’t mind the silence after all the crowds our last couple of days.

I ordered the french toast topped with sliced bananas, a side of bacon and orange juice. He ordered hot chocolate and a platter that came with pancakes, bacon, eggs and a side of the best tasting home fries I’ve ever stolen off someones’ plate. The french toast was perfectly cooked and had just the right amount of cinnamon. This was exactly the big breakfast that we needed to kick off our day of adventuring.

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Our first stop after breakfast was well-known Champs-Élysées for some shopping, before heading over to the Fête des Tuileries at the Jardin des Tuileries. I have to admit, while I could spend a couple of hours just strolling along the Champs-Elysées, some of the actual shopping is a bit meh. Though we did spend a bit of time in Zara and Banana Republic.

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After a little shopping we grabbed a cap to the Tuileries Garden. Of course, as it was my first trip to Paris, we had to take a ride on the famous Ferris Wheel on Place de Concorde. It was definitely worth it and we got a birds eye view of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower from afar and Cleopatra’s needle.

After our ride and grabbing some lemonade, we headed to Tuileries Garden where I, of course, had to stop every few minutes to grab another photograph. Despite it being ridiculously hot outside to the point where it was almost uncomfortable, the bright sun made the flora that much more picture-worthy. The carnival itself is similar to the Bergen Beach Festival or one of those small, summer carnivals that come to town in your neighborhood, complete with overpriced games and rides that  may or may not be too safe. Naturally, I skipped all the rides that involved flipping me in eight directions but spent too much money on an archery game where we actually won two mp3 players.

By this point we were so hot that we just wanted out of the heat, and seeing as we were so close to the well-known Angelina, we thought we’d stop in just for a snack. I opted for the hot chocolate (completely counterproductive, I know) and the Mont-Blanc, the most iconic duo order at Angelina. My travel partner opted for the chocolate milkshake (a better choice.)

As someone who is a huge fan of dense hot chocolate, this was a little bit of a let-down. Maybe, I’m comparing it too much to Max Brenner hot chocolate but it just didn’t do it for me. Similarly, the Mont-Blanc didn’t live up to expectations. My original choice was between a strawberry shortcake type options and the Mont-Blanc, but chose the latter due to the lemon filling (my favorite.) Maybe, I should’ve grabbed a lemon tart. We did notice though, how delicious the sandwiches going to other tables looked, so maybe in the future we’ll try it for lunch. But it was definitely an experience, and I’d 100% go back and try some different options.

After our Angelina break we decided it was time to head back to the apartment for showers and a break. On this day the heat was about 94 degrees but it felt a lot hotter. This was fine though as we had tickets that night to see comedian Olivier Giraud at the Théâtre du Petit Saint-Martin, who has now moved to a new venue.

I had come across a trailer for Olivier Giraud on Youtube and that already had me in tears, so thought it would be a good night out.

This man is beyond hilarious.

And in case you were wondering about the title of this post, his set is titled, “How to Become a Parisian in One Hour.” The show is actually an hour long, but you’ll wish it was an hour longer. If heading to Paris, and looking for some hilarious night entertainment, I highly recommend purchasing tickets to see Olivier. And yes, you do actually learn how to become a Parisian.

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Was that the end of your day?

Of course not; you see my boyfriend was leaving the day after as he had to get back to work but we were also so close to Tour Montparnasse, it would’ve been a shame to not stop by.

In case you were wondering the Tour Montparnasse is essentially the middle finger of Paris. Why? Well, we all have the perfect image of Paris in our minds, made up of that sophisticated Parisian architecture and watched over by the Eiffel Tower…but then…then we have Tour Montparnasse.

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And while it is, let’s be honest, obnoxious and hideous, it does provide an amazing view of the Eiffel tower from the observatory and so it would be our final stop of the day. Essentially the opposite view you’d have from the tower itself. We had gotten there at sunset, which was the perfect backdrop. And of course I suggested we stay until sundown when the tower would light up and sparkle. However, due to the tragic events that occurred in Nice on the 14th, the tower instead lit up with the colors of the French flag, which was equally as beautiful but a very bittersweet moment.

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Read about the rest of our Paris escapade:

Paris: Day 7 – A Little Old House with a Garden (2016)

Paris: Day 6 – “Let them eat cake!” (2016)

Paris: Day 5 – Strolling the Île de la Cité (2016)

Paris: Day 4 – How to Become a Parisian in One Hour (2016)

Paris: Day 3 –  Il a été tout a commencé avec une souris (2016)

Paris: Day 2 – I See Dead People (2016)

Paris: Day 1 – Lost in the City of Love (2016)

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