French history, French art, French bones...

Paris Travel Blog

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Hall of Mirrors @ Versailles
The last three days have been packed with sightseeing, and every night my legs have felt like they might never move again (but luckily they always do). 

Thursday I spent the entire day at the Château de Versailles.  The weather looked very dubious in the morning, but it basically was just a grey foggy day that lifted slightly in the afternoon.  The palace itself is really rather huge (and absolutely crammed with tourists of course - though I didn't have to wait in line too long at all).  The rooms are very sumptuous and impressive, and there was a good audio tour too.  I spent all afternoon just wandering around the gardens & the park - the French really do like their gardens très formal & très manicured, and there were water features/lakes/fountains at every turn (only the ones actually around the house were fount-ing [is there a verb 'to fount'? there should be]).
the Champs Elysees & the Arc de Triomphe
 

Friday I started off at l'Arc de Triomphe & then took a wander down the Avenue des Champs-Elysées - past all the boutique stores, high street stores, touristy stores, even the Peugot & Mercedes stores (yes with cars & all).  I took a wander through the Jardin des Tuileries - another straight-laced, manicured Parisian garden, and then whiled away the afternoon with some modern art at the Centre Pompidou. 

Today has been a bit of a highlight day: I visited the Catacombes this morning, which were absolutely fascinating (if not a little creepy).  Basically in the 18th century when they realised all the cemeteries were overflowing, they moved the bones of millions of people into old quarries.  You start off just walking through old stone corridors, then you walk through an arch & suddenly the walls are made of bones.
the Catacombes
  They're right there, you could touch them if you wanted to disobey the rules.  All the large bones & skulls are neatly stacked in patterns along the tunnels, and apparently all the other bones are just thrown in behind.  Seriously, so fascinating. 

Then I decided it was time to hit the Eiffel Tower.  I did have to wait in line for about an hour probably, but it was fascinating people watching so I didn't mind.  Apparently I'm quite an observant tourist - I mean, I'm a pretty observant person in real life & I like to watch people - but it always amazes me how completely clueless some people are.  We were in the "stairs only" line (hey, I'm a budget traveller) - something which many people in line seemed oblivious to, despite the banner, the awning, the flashing sign & various other small signs that said "escaliers seulement / stairs only / escaleras" (yes, that's "stairs only" in three languages).
the Eiffel Tower
  The views were quite nice and it's always fascinating to look down upon a city. 

Of course there's rugby world cup fever going on all around Paris, and consequently heaps of rugby fans around, including a very entertaining group of English men singing & drinking & lounging under the Eiffel Tower. 

I finished off the afternoon at the Musee d'Orsay, which was really fabulous.  It's an old train station converted into a museum & it's a really fabulous space.  Plus it's all art from about 1850-1915 - lots of fabulous impressionist works.  It really was awesome. 
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Hall of Mirrors @ Versailles
Hall of Mirrors @ Versailles
the Champs Elysees & the Arc de Tr…
the Champs Elysees & the Arc de T…
the Catacombes
the Catacombes
the Eiffel Tower
the Eiffel Tower
Paris
photo by: Sweetski