Au revoir, City of Love and Light

Our last full day in Paris! We wanted to make it count. I went with Mum and Marnie to the Palais Royal gardens, where they were going to check out a bunch of passages, which are these little joined together covered walkways of shops. I headed off in the other direction and went to Sainte-Chapelle and La Conciergerie, two places I have been very interested in seeing, but haven’t made it to yet. It’s my third trip to Paris, and I wasn’t going to leave without finally seeing them, especially as you can get a discounted ticket if you buy for each place at the same time, and a further discount if you’re under 26. It only cost me 8.50 euros to see both. I walked right into the Conciergerie, which is a former royal palace and prison. It is particularly famous for housing Marie-Antoinette and numerous important prisoners during the Revolution. They have recreated Marie-Antoinette’s cell and built a chapel where the original cell was. The Gothic architecture is also particularly beautiful, but it was very sobering seeing an enormous list of names, all people who were guillotined. There were different cells on display, all according to rank/wealth – pailleux for the very poor, which was pretty much just crowded cells with hay on the floor and no beds, pistoles might have a couple of beds and a table, and the very wealthy had a cell to themselves with space to do work. But they still had to pay for it, and often it was only a matter of days before they were executed and the privilege to pay was offered to another prisoner.

 

 

 

 

Afterwards I stood for about half an hour in the line for Sainte-Chapelle. It is most famous for it’s stained glass, though it was originally built to house the relics of the Passion. It is also built with Gothic architecture, and the ceilings are really something to be admired. They were doing restoration on part of it and it was crowded inside, but the beauty of the place makes up for it. As I was going through security to be let in, the gendarme said something to me in French. I told him (in French) that I couldn’t understand, because he was pointing to my phone and I thought there was something wrong. So then he asked in English for my number and I sort of laughed and shook my head and said ‘I’m Australian’ like an idiot, before I ran away.

 

 

 

 

 

I walked to Notre-Dame – the line was about a million people long, and I’ve been twice, so I didn’t worry about going in, but I did go into the archeological crypt. It houses a bunch of Roman ruins that sit beneath the ground level, and provided extremely detailed scientific information about the agricultural history that went straight over my head. But it only cost 3 euros to get in (being under 26 gets you some decent discounts) and I got some good photos.

 

 

 

I walked back to meet Mum and Marnie. I bought a kebab on the way and the kebab guy told me he liked my eyes, so clearly the French men find the no-sleep, overheated, death-warmed-up, wrung-out-by-travel look a real turn-on. I sat and drank cucumber iced tea and read my Agatha Christie book while I waited for Mum and Marnie and they arrived bearing presents!! Mum had bought me both volumes of Jane Eyre, in French, 1886 editions, and they list the author as Currer Bell!! (Which was the pseudonym Charlotte Bronte wrote under). They are so beautiful!! I’m going to teach myself French with my French versions of Jane Eyre and Harry Potter. Yesm.

Mum and Marnie took me through the passages that surround the Palais-Royal gardens to show me a couple of cute bookshops they had found. The passages were very beautiful, and I’d like to see more of them one day. As we walked through the gardens, we saw people filming something (we’ve seen quite a few things being filmed on this trip). I tried to stickybeak and check if I recognised any French movie stars, but I couldn’t. However, there was a paparazzo snapping away from behind some tables and chairs, so you never know.

 

 

 

 

 

Back to Montmartre for a wee rest before our tour tonight. I’ll continue this afterwards!

Okay, back. Had a lovely tour of Montmartre, which I also did two years ago and you can read about here. There’s been a few changes here and there, but we heard some great stories, some quite sad, some quite risque. There was a lot more said about Vincent Van Gogh on this tour than I remember – what an interesting dude. We are home now, super tired, but trying to do some last minute luggage organisation. We fly home tomorrow, and I can’t believe this has come to an end. Frodsham seems like another lifetime, but it also feels like it’s gone so quickly. I have loved traveling with Marnie again, and traveling with Mum has been really special. I feel so lucky to have been able to have this experience with them. I’m ready for a sleep in my own bed, and a shower in my own bathroom, but first, a plane flight to get through! I’ll try and update this tomorrow at the airport, otherwise, I’ll see you all in Melbourne. Au revoir.

 

 

 

 

 

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Versailles underwater

Back home finally! It is nearly 8pm here and we are all EXHAUSTED. Sean and I pulled up pretty rough this morning after our adventures at the Oz Bar, but we saddled up and headed out early(ish) to meet Jules and Ryan and head to Versailles! Alfie and I have wanted to go to Versailles forever, but we hadn’t had the chance too last time we were in Paris (4 years ago, on the contiki, and we only had 36 hours in Paris). Anyway, we got there around lunchtime and saw the wonderful State Apartments. I took stacks of photos, but it started to depress me because I would look back at the little square on my camera and it would look nothing like the scene I had just tried to capture. The sheer size and grandeur of the ceilings and the gilded cornices and the ornate fabrics and intricate paintwork is just so mind-blowing. When you squish it into a little camera frame it loses so much of its magic. So I tried to concentrate on just drawing in the atmosphere around me. I still took heaps of photos, but I tried to drink it into my memory bank more. We saw Marie Antoinette’s bedchamber, and the door which she escaped through on the night of the storming of Versailles is left ajar. It was wonderfully eerie to be confronted with such a moment in history.

After the State Apartments, we all ended up in separate groups and Sean and I visited the Dauphin’s Apartments and then the gift shop. We went to head out into the gardens, and discovered it was raining. Not heavily, but it was freezing cold to begin with and the rain made being outside pretty unpleasant. So we picked up a hot chocolate and peeled off our wet clothes and just warmed up inside for a bit. Then we found Alfie and Cara and ate the lunch we had packed (yeah, economic travelling!) and argued about whether it was worth purchasing a 5 euro ticket to get driven through the gardens to the Grand and Petit Trianons and Marie Antoinette’s Estate. We all wanted to see these parts, but the idea of trooping through the rain and mud for ages didn’t fill us with joy. On the other hand, 5 euro seemed extreme for the Petit Train we would be taking. In the end, Cara, Alfie and I bought Petit Train tickets and Sean took our one umbrella and walked the length of the gardens to meet us there. (We had all, of course, offered to buy him a ticket but he is stubborn and proud, like a snobby mule, and wouldn’t accept it). So we met him at the Grand Trianon, along with Jules, Ryan and Neil, and walked through the Grand Trianon, the Petit Trianon and Marie Antoinette’s estate. It was very beautiful, but being as tired and cold as we were was quite the distraction, and we were ready to head home after that. We stopped quickly at the other gift shop and I will take this opportunity to inform the cyberverse that if anyone ever wants to buy me an expensive perfume, ‘Josephine’ from the Versailles gift shop will do nicely, thank you.

We broke a cardinal rule of our European adventure and stopped at Macca’s on the way back. I just really, really needed a cheeseburger. I may have expired from the cold or murdered someone otherwise. Then we trained back to Pere Lachaise and grabbed some groceries on the way. I am full of food now! Tomorrow we plan to do the Opera Garnier, the Catacombs, the Arc du Triomphe, and some washing. Keeping it real, peeps.

xxx