Friday, June 14, 2013

Paris Day 2


Chris and I woke up early and ate breakfast at the hotel, and then hopped on the train out to Versailles, which took about 30 minutes.  When we arrived the skies were blue and it was a beautiful day!  As you walk up the drive toward the palace you stumble across a giant statue of Louis XIV on a horse.
You then pass through one set of gold gates as you pass into the ticket area where the line forms. We were lucky to have gotten there nice and early because the line doubled in the 20 minutes we waited, even with a museum pass! Crazy.
Right before you enter there is a second set of solid gold gates. They don't open and close these ones, though, they make you walk in through a side entrance.
Here we are inside the courtyard of Versailles. The place is giant! I'm pretty sure they only let us tour two of the three wings. It's just SO big and has SO many rooms. King Louis XIV built this palace for himself after the royal family moved out of what is now the Louvre. Can you imagine building a 720,000 square foot house for you and your friends to live in? Yeah. Me neither.

Here is the Royal Chapel, where Louis XIV and his family attended mass every morning at 10 AM. What's funny about this room is that Louis's seat was the only one facing the altar. Everyone else in the room (all his lowly nobles) has their seats facing Louis so they could "worship" him while he worshipped. Ha!
I didn't take pictures of many of the rooms because honestly, it couldn't do them justice. There were SO many and they were all SO over the top. But this room, called the hall of mirrors, was pretty incredible. It faces the gardens out back with a huge wall of windows that have mirrors opposite them. The throne was occasionally moved into this room. I'm pretty sure it's where I'd want to sit if I were king.
Looking out one of the windows to the gardens.
The room was lit by 24 of these gorgeous candelabra lining the room. They were enormous.
View of the back of the palace from the gardens. The hall of mirrors is on the second floor.
View looking out toward the gardens from the palace. The fountains near the palace were under construction so they were slightly underwhelming, but the sheer size of the gardens was very impressive. All the bodies of water are man-made. The property itself is over 2000 acres. You look out and think, yeah, this is beautiful, let's just walk the whole thing! But then 45 minutes later when you still haven't reached the other end you begin to realize that they have a shuttle trolley for a reason!
The Apollo Basin with Louis XIV in the chariot.
Marie Antoinette (who married Louis XVI in an arranged marriage) escaped from palace life by having her own "peasant" village built on the property where she could play pretend. It had a working farm with a dairy, a water mill, domestic animals, and gardens where her own vegetables were grown.

A view of one of the "summer palaces" on the property that we also walked through. When our feet had had enough, we headed back toward the train, stopping first at Mconalds which was across the street from the train station.
Once on the train we made straight for the Notre Dame to start our afternoon walk & festivities. A week before we arrived, someone committed suicide on the altar in the cathedral, but luckily it was opened back up the next day so we were still able to tour it.

It was beautiful inside. If it hadn't been the ten millionth cathedral we'd seen on this trip, we probably would have been more impressed by it. It was big and it was beautiful.

While the interior felt similar to other cathedral's we'd seen, I felt like the outside was much more ornate and symbolic than some of the others.

And of course, what is a gothic cathedral without those famous flying buttresses. (below)
After we toured the Notre Dame, we walked across the street to the deportation memorial, and then crossed the bridge over the Seine river.
We passed all the love locks along the way. I asked Chris if he wanted to put a lock on there and declare his love to me...and he told me he was too cheap, ha ha.
We had our Rick Steves' audio guide on my phone, so we plugged both our headphones into it and held hands as we walked through the city listening to it.

Our guided tour took us past the skinniest house in Paris -- only two windows wide. Crazy!
The door of the skinniest house.
Then we walked through the Latin Quarter, which was very cute and felt very Parisian.

Next we headed toward Saint Chapelle to see the amazing stained glass windows. It was built in only 6 years for King Louis IX.
Each window panel depicts a different scene from the bible. Saint Chapelle was Chris's favorite thing we saw in all of Paris. It was quite breathtaking!

Then we walked next door to the Conciergerie, which is where the prisoners were held before they were guillotined. They had Marie Antoinette's cell still set up the way it was before she was beheaded.
By this time it was nearing dinner, but we were still feeling good so we consulted our travel guide and discovered that the Louvre was open late tonight. Score! So we headed over there on foot.

Ta-daaaa! The obligatory Louvre photo in front of the famous pyramid.

Once inside, we ate a quick dinner at the food court in the mall (located in the basement of the Louvre), and then we headed into the museum to check it all out.
I'll admit -- we got lost more than once, even with a map! That place is just SO big. My favorite parts were the scultpures. Here is Venus de Milo.
Winged Victory.
An ornate ceiling in one of the painting galleries.
The Mona Lisa! Behind bullet-proof, flash-proof glass. Everyone always talks about how small she is, so when we finally saw her I was pleasantly surprised that she wasn't as small as I pictured in my head. I bet she's about 16x20" with the frame. A decent size if you were going to hang her in your living room.

The crowd around her was crazy. We had to wait a few minutes to get our "turn" at the front.
Some more scultpures in the sculpture wing.
We spent a little over two hours in the Louvre and saw a lot of great stuff, with the help of our audio guide. Neither of us are art connoisseurs, so the audio guide was great in explaining why certain pieces were significant. We both enjoyed it a lot. And after seeing both Versailles and the Louvre, Chris decided he thought the Louvre architecture was much more impressive, and given the choice between the two he'd live in the Louvre. :)  By the time we finished it was dark and we were POOPED, so we hopped the subway home to crash hard. I think we walked a million miles this day!

No comments: