This week I would like to tell you about my trip to Paris, France. As a part of an art history class I am taking we traveled to Paris for four days to see a number of museums and other historical sites. It was an amazing experience! I was lucky enough to travel to Paris on my own two days early. After boarding the train in Brussels, I sat as patiently as I possibly could, but so filled with excitement that it was almost impossible. As the conductor’s voiced chimed over the loud speaker that we would soon be pulling into the station my excitement heightened. Thanks to my experience with the Brussels public transportation system I was able to find my way to my friend’s house with ease. I spent the first two days exploring anything and everything I could. The friend I stayed with has lived in Paris for a year and a half, so gave me a suggestion on restaurants, coffee shops, and sites to see.
On Saturday morning I groggily rolled out of bed to meet up with my class at the hostel we would call our home for the following four days. After dropping off our bags, the professor herded us to the nearest metro station to board a train for Versailles. I had heard a lot about Versailles and how beautiful it was, but there is no way I could have imagined what I was about to see. Versailles, as some of you may know, was the castle to King Louis XIV (the 14th) and his wife Marie Antoinette. The whole property is over 2,000 acres and enclosed by 12 miles of wall. In other words, it’s the size of a town in itself. Within Versailles there are three palaces the Château de Versailles, the Grand Trianon, and the Petit Trianon, as well as a small town called the Hamlet, where Marie Antoinette went to escape the busy palaces. The property was not only home to the king and queen, but also the court and some of those employed by the royal court. At times there were up to 20,000 people living within Versailles. The grounds have a staggering 50 fountains and over 200,000 trees. If you’re picturing a giant, well-groomed forest with statues placed here and there and three massive palaces, then you have an idea of what Versailles looks like! We spent over five hours wandering the grounds and the palaces, but it probably would have taken two more days to see everything. Upon returning back to Paris we were exhausted. After walking upwards of seven miles we were ready for dinner and bed, but of course we had to see the Eiffel tower at night! Being the typical Americans we are, we opted out of great Parisian food for Chipotle (Mexican food doesn’t exist in most of Europe, so we’ve all been craving burritos for months!). Following our delicious, much-needed burritos, we each ate a crepe. I’m sure most of you love crepes! I know there are a few really great places in Portland. They can be considered Paris’s version of the Belgian waffle; they are everywhere! To finish off the night we visited the Eiffel tower, and just in time to see it’s spectacular light show that goes off every half hour or so for about five minutes. I felt as though I were in a movie!
The second day consisted of a number of museums and various famous statues, fountains, and buildings around Paris. Unfortunately, it was raining most of the day, so I found it very hard to focus on anything the professor was saying. My favorite part of the day was our visit to the Dôme des Invalides. It is the home to the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte, an emperor of France in the early 1800s. Within the Dome were a number of other tombs, including Napoleon III. Luckily the sun came out in the afternoon, which made our walking tour far more enjoyable.
The last few days were made up of visits to more museums and the sites of Paris, including the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. If any of you have seen The Da Vinci Code you should know exactly what the Louvre is. For those of you who haven’t, it is a huge museum inside an old palace located just off the river in the middle of Paris. The name is pronounced L-oo-v, like love without an e! It is the home of famous paintings like the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. The museum was enormous! We dedicated four hours of our day to seeing the museum, and didn’t even see half of it! If I ever visit Paris again (which I certainly hope to do) I will be sure to spend at least one whole day in the Louvre and two full days to Versailles.
Overall my time in Paris was marvelous. It was a very informative and fun experience. I learned more in a week than I thought possible, although being able to physically see what I’m learning about is very beneficial. If any of you get the chance I highly suggest visiting Paris. The sights such as Sacre Coeur and the Eiffel Tower are far more spectacular in person than you might think. I could have stared at the Eiffel Tower for hours without getting bored!
Sorry my post is so late; I was unable to get on the internet throughout most of my time in Paris. Now I’m in Italy enjoy the last few days I have off from school! I’ll be sure to tell you all about it next week 🙂 I hope you all had a great week!
My question for you this week is: What have you learned about Paris, its sights, and its history so far in school? What do you think of when you think of Paris or France?