Paris is always a good idea. ― Audrey Hepburn
That statement could not be more true. Easier said then done, but our week spent in Paris was amazing. To say that we saw lots is an understatement; we ran around the city going from monument to monument with only enough time in between to stop for coffee, food, or macarons. What really blew my mind the most was the amount of iconic things to see in Paris – that people have on their bucket lists for years – and once your there it is easy to cross them off one at a time.
The question that I have been asked the most, by people who do not want to hear the whole spiel on my day to day activities, is “what was the most memorable part of the trip?” What this question does for me is highlight the fact that I am very bad at remembering specific details of my trips or that I can narrow things down to the most memorable. Either way the question gets answered in a super vague way like “I don’t know, the whole trip was really cool.” Yes Rachel, we understand that Paris is probably very cool, lets be a little more creative now.
Most memorable part you ask? Versailles, hands down the coolest place I have been to (okay, the Vatican is pretty sweet too but lets just say top 5). More specifically walking into the Hall of Mirrors is absolutely breathtaking. I am such a sucker for chandeliers normally so this room was unreal. If you can forget that you are shuffling along with a kazillion other people, then you can really picture it being used by the royalty at the time. Second best part of Versailles? Opéra Royal de Versailles – or the Royal Opera of Versailles. We had booked a tour that let us see more than the general public like other rooms of the chateau, including this theatre. Walking in to the dimly lit room was really something else. You could feel the atmosphere change into the high class, entertainment space that Louis XIV had imagined when he built it. We got to sit in the seats as our tour guide explained the history, and I swear I was trying to listen but I was so mesmerized by it that I didn’t take in much.
This may sound a little cliche but the Eiffel Tower is pretty damn cool. It has been made into a Hollywood spectacle, but if you step away from that and look at it as a monument that was only supposed to be up for 6 months, it is pretty cool. We took the elevator ride to the top and it wasn’t so much the view that was worth it (they have a law that nothing can be higher than 8 stories, so it makes for a boring skyline when you’re standing on the only thing worth seeing in a view) but getting to be up close with the structure itself and see how it was put together. Most buildings aren’t just a skeleton, so it was neat to see the structural workings of this tower.
As anti-climatic as it was, it is worth mentioning the Mona Lisa just because its the Mona Lisa and apparently its something you have to see when you are in Paris. The glass pyramid outside the Lourve was actually way cooler; all the DaVinci Code-esque that it brings. The only downfall was that when its 40 degrees out, a glass pyramid only makes you feel like you are melting in a sauna rather than looking at a cool piece of modern art. But back to the art; we were on a three hour tour that was really just a slow stroll towards the lady herself. It was almost embarrassing to run through all the other rooms filled with momentous pieces, you really could spend days in that place. Like I said earlier, the Mona Lisa is a slight disappointment, which is a consistent opinion amoung the people I have talked to. What happens is you walk into this big room, packed full with crazy tourists all jammed up against the railing trying to get a picture of the tiny painting behind a pane of glass. I have now seen it, crossed that off the list, but don’t need to go back to that specific room again. What was more impressive was the painting across from it on the opposing wall; its massive and very well done.
Other notable stops along the way: Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, love lock bridge, Sacred Heart basilica, and the Eglise du Dome Church. Seriously, so many things to see and do. ND was obviously spectacular, both on the inside and out. Similarly, Sacred Heart was breath taking. Most churches and cathedrals have their ceilings painted but everything in the Sacred Heart was mosaic, which you couldn’t tell until the light hit it in a certain way. The love lock bridge actually doesn’t exist anymore, the locks were too heavy for the structure, but you can see what it would have been like because they kept the parts of the bridge that were on solid ground at the ends. Last but not leas the Arc de Triomphe was amazing, it was located only 5 minutes from our hotel and we had to walk past it to get most places so we got full exposure to the massive arc including a night trip up to the top to see the Eiffel Tower lit up. The Dome Church was mostly cool because that is where Napoleon’s tomb is, which is actually more exciting than it sounds. Sometimes history gets to you, and for some reason seeing his actual tomb made me appreciate high school social a little bit more.
Until next time.