The City of Lights

I have a confession to make. I have never been that interested in Paris.

Maybe it’s my British roots but just never really felt the urge that so many do to visit the City of Lights, but we’re in France so not seeing it would have just been wrong.
In our typical fashion, we arrived in Paris via train and hiked nearly 2 miles to our hotel near the Luxembourg gardens (we never got to visit due to tired travels and a filled schedule). We arrived, checked in, and I instantly missed the homey feeling of Marielle’s hotel in Saint Malo; we managed to rest for maybe 15 minutes before getting dressed to have dinner at the Eiffel tower.

The Eiffel is certainly something that changed my opinion once I actually saw it in person from a taxi window when we first arrived in France back in September.  It’s as pretty in the day as it is in night and for this particular evening Colton had made the arrangements for us to dine there.

We were a part of a group, so we were quickly whisked to the elevators rather than waiting in a line and taken to the first floor of the tower to dine on salmon, chicken, and chocolate cake. Afterwards we had the option to hop on a boat for a tour of Paris via the Seine River or wander around the tower for a bit longer. We chose to hike up 330 steps to the second floor (there’s an elevator options but I’m not a fan of sitting around and waiting). We didn’t go higher after being told that the second floor had a better view than the third (the third’s the very top, so yes you’re higher but what you can’t see what you’re looking at besides knowing that it’s lights). One day we might go back to the top—we never got on the boat, but we have passes to go on the tour that last a year so we might revisit the tower while we’re there.
The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel, I continued various comments along the lines that “it’s good, but I preferred Marielle’s”. It was buffet style and had a lot of options, but still, I liked the personal touch. After this we hopped on the RER (Paris train/underground thing) and made the journey out to the Palace of Versailles, as was pretty much everyone else on the train. We had already purchased our tickets so we only had one line to wait in and experience the strict French security. Just kidding, the people monitoring the x-ray machines were most likely chatting about what they were up to last night and never even looked in the visitors’ direction.

This was followed by another line, which we discovered was for those getting an audio guide so we jumped ship and went straight in to start wandering. Versailles was very different from the other big house we visited in England, while Chatsworth was a home, this one was strictly a museum and you could tell. 

Versailles didn’t have the odd combination of grandeur and family touches, it was strictly there to display the once splendorous French aristocracy and artwork before everyone went all “off with their heads!” It’s beautiful nonetheless, with fantastic pieces of art and antique furniture, but a bit lacking in the creature comforts. Two dining options, one light and casual, the other on the fancy side, as we were perfectly fine with a grab-n-go lunch we went with the former. This seemed fine until we walked into where you got the food. A concert mosh pit comes to mind when attempting to describe the cramped nature of the tiny room housing all of the food and paying options; this followed by the fact that none of the dining rooms had space for more people and we were two of several looking for a place to eat I wasn’t impressed with their set up.
After eating our food in the hallway, we ventured out in the gardens, which were enormous and well manicured, however the day was going to break 55 degrees and French weather has a rather insistent drizzle so we didn’t manage too long out amongst the shrubs and fountains.

 Instead we left to go to a McDonald’s (I know, I know) across from the train station and got some hot cocoa before catching a train back to Paris.
Once back we ignored the chill and took advantage of the fact that our train stop was right next to Notre Dame and joined yet another line to see the inside of the famous cathedral. It’s fantastic to say the least, dozens of chandeliers, relics scattered throughout, hundreds of lit candles, with ceilings and stained glass windows reaching for the heavens. We made a loop around the dramatic building before settling in some chairs in the middle to rest and admire for a bit. 

Eventually we made the way out and headed back to our hotel from some hot tea and rest before eating at a nearby Indian restaurant (we wanted some comfort food).
The next day we slept in a bit and checked out of the hotel after breakfast but left our luggage in storage with them so we wouldn’t have to lug it around before we caught our train. 
We planned to take a late train out so we could spend the day in the Louvre. This probably wasn’t our best idea. Sleeping in, relaxed breakfast, and catching an earlier train would’ve probably made a much happier day, instead we walked the mile from the hotel to the Louvre and joined (you guessed it) a line to get in.

The Louvre is massive, with art and artifacts from all over the world. We first headed directly to the Mona Lisa (getting the main highlights out of the way was my priority). On our way we spotted a couple of painters working to recreate some of the masterpieces hanging on the museum walls. We found the Mona Lisa in a side room packed with people trying to get a good look at the famous painting. We wiggled our way to the front, snapped a couple of photos and headed out.

I know any art buffs are probably upset with my lack of respect but we’re just not huge art people, and all of the descriptions were in French (yes we’ve been here since September and we still don’t know French) so it was hard to hold our attention to all the paintings around us. After struggling to keep the two of us entertained we stopped for lunch before visiting the last couple of galleries that sounded promising—the medieval Louvre and Islamic arts (which for some reason had labels in English).

After this we caved and made our way back to the hotel to grab our stuff and hiked about half way to the train station (it’s two miles remember and we were carrying a combined 45ish pounds of stuff—mostly on the hubby though) and stopped for something to drink before continuing along the way to the station and eventually home.

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