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Published: February 23rd 2015
The first stop on my travels for my midterm break was Paris. I flew out of Dublin to Paris on Friday the 13th. I was able to make it from the airport to my hostel without any technology, my phone didn't work during my travels, and only getting lost for a brief couple of minutes. My first night in Paris, I had dinner at a bar on the corner down from the hostel and then went for a little walk. I stayed right by the Louvre so I walked around the museum and then made my way to The Place de Concorde to watch the dazzling light display on the Eiffel Tower that happens every hour. The light display was very nice and it got me out and walking a bit of Paris. Only later did I realize that the Place de Concorde is where Marie Antoinette was executed. The next day, Saturday, I got up and made my way to the RER stop by Notre Dame to go out to Versailles. I would have thought that on a rainy, chilly Saturday in February, the palace would not be very crowded. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The palace was packed! Maybe because it was Valentine’s Day... The main palace was beautiful though and the size and opulence was unimaginable. The Hall of Mirrors really did live up to the glory. What is just as impressive as the palace is the gardens that surround the palace. I am sure in the summer the gardens are just spectacular, but even in February they are something to admire. Walking through the gardens, I made my way to the petite and grand trianon. These are two smaller palaces on the grounds that the Kings and Queens had built so they could escape the hustle and bustle of the Chateau and the court. Some also thought this made them more peasant like with their salons, billiards room, libraries, and etc. A little out of touch would be an understatement. One of my favorite parts of Versailles was the 12 building farm that Marie Antoinette had built on the grounds. It looks like it was taken out of a fairy tale and just set down. It is still a working farm to this day.
After exploring all of Versailles and tired of trouncing around in the rain I went back to Paris. Once back in Paris, I made my way to the front of Notre Dame and had a look before making my way to the back which is where the true architecture exists. It is beautiful to view the church from the back. After Notre Dame, I decided to walk to the Bastille Monument, which was rather boring. From there I made my way back to the west bank and looked at some of the book re-sellers before settling in a cafe for a hot cup of coffee with a few of Notre Dame. I fell for the old tourist trap of sitting outside and getting charged more, but the view and people watching was worth it. Following my coffee break, I made my way to the Latin Quarter and had a walk around and got offered a free glass of wine if I had dinner at a particular restaurant. That was too good of a deal to pass up, but before I had dinner I made my way back to Notre Dame and made my way inside. The church is beautiful on the inside as well and I really got to experience the real beauty of the church by listening to an evening service followed by a mass. Although I couldn't understand anything the service and mass were both very nice. After church it was back to the Latin Quarter for some dinner and my free glass of wine. I think I was the only single person in all of Paris on Valentine’s Day, love was in the air! I then made my way back to my hostel to catch some rest after my exhausting day. The following day I had to catch a train out to Bayeux for my next adventure, D-day sites, before I could make my return for Paris part 2.
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