Paris: Part Deux

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April 25th 2017
Published: April 25th 2017
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A week in Paris - now ended, as we take the TGV to Barcelona on Anzac Day - not celebrated here, but I think the Australian Bar we found last night might be playing 2 up today 😊. So the final 4 days in Paris went like this - Friday 21st we took the quicker than expected train to Versailles (not as far out of Paris as I thought) - had a coffee before entering the grounds which was a really good idea , then easily found our way just up the road and to the left of the station and there is is REALLY HUGE FREAKING PALACE WITH GOLD EVERYWHERE!!!!. Also crowds like I have never seen before. Having a pre-purchased pass made no difference whatsoever here, because there was 1 security check point and literally about 700 people queuing to get it. The courtyard outside is a massive square about 200 metres long, which had snakes of people going the length up and down and up and down and up again. We were given incredibly brilliant advice by a staffer - to see the gardens first - which had a queue of 5 people - so we gratefully took this up and headed around the back, and into the gardens. Sadly the fountains were not on (Saturdays and Tuesdays only, not the Friday, Saturday Sunday I had been told my the lady in the Tourisme De Paris office), but even so, the gardens were spectacular. Immaculately groomed, clearly designed with scope and pomp in mind, but also really peaceful, Classical music is piped into the hedges as you walk through giant mazes (akin to the 3rd and final challenge in Harry 4 but without the menacing creatures and demonic shrubbery). We spent a good an and a bit wandering through and enjoying the while peacefulness of it all. I even spent some time in just a T shirt 😊 We grabbed a baguette from the cheap cafe rather than the expensive a-la-carte cafe, and emerged back on to the square to find the queues had reduced - now only 500 people instead of 700! Still took a good hour from the end of the queue to in the palace and past security though. Once in - well you can understand why the revolution occurred - the excess and opulence is unbelievable, The crowds were similar to the Crown Jewels in London, so the best you could do was to shuffle through and take pics where you have space. To be honest I think we both got more out of seeing the State Apartments at Windsor Castle, but I had not been to Versailles before so it was a first for both of us. We headed home to chill for a couple of hours before heading back to the Louvre at 7:15pm (it opens till 10, 2 nights a week - much easier to get in) and finished what we started - finally saw the Mona Lisa, and other Italian Renaissance Masterpieces. We found a local Bistrot -Le Thermidor- and I had quite possibly the best combination of French food I have as yet had - a glass of genuine Champagne, Home made pate and Cassoulet. Dreamy. From there we walked down past the Tulleries to the giant Ferris Wheel (we didn't get on the London Eye, so this is what our Eiffel Tower tour guide called "the Paris wink" - which allowed us to see the city at night in it's twinkly, sparkly prettiness...Saturday I decreed a blob day for Evie until the late afternoon as she was entirely pooped, so after a chilled morning I ventured out on my own, walked through Les Halles, past the famed restaurant "Au Pied Du Cochon", and to the Pompidou centre - the Modern Art Museum. Here I got to feast my eyes on some cool stuff - Picasso, Matisse, Pollock and a whole bunch of other modernists I have only just started appreciating since hanging around an artist. I grabbed some lunch and a coffee while out and returned to find Evie still curled up on her bed. In the later part of the afternoon we headed out to Isle de Cite, and took a tour in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, hearing the bells chime and enjoying the gothicness of it all. We walked a little in the student quarter, saw more Comic/geek fan shops in a 2 block radius than anywhere I have seen, checked out the exterior of The Sorbonne University and completed our student experience by eating at a cheap tiny Mexican place where wine was served in tiny soy sauce type bottles and the lights in the toilet flickered on and off. We retired early, as Sunday was a BIG DAY. Awaking at 6am (for only the second time since being away) we dragged ourselves out of the apartment within 30 minutes, got the metro to the edge of the city and found our bus (OUIBUS) which was to take us to Mont St Michel in a 4 hour trip. Once there it is still a good 2kms to the fortress itself, which you can get to by free shuttle or for the princely sum of 10 euros by horse drawn cart. We took the latter, cos why not? It was fun and pretty and slow and all things good. Once there we started up the tiny cobbled sop lined streets feeling for all the world like we had just tapped the bricks and found ourselves in Diagon Alley. It was so cute! Half way up we stopped for a croque monsier, and then climbed and climbed until we reached the actual abbey. Which was brilliant, we wandered through and decided which room was the Room of requirement, which was the Potions classroom, which was the Great Hall...Much much fun! We made our way down and had a proper, in a waffle cone double scoop ice cream. YUM. We decided to walk back to the bus pick up point as we still had over an hour before our bus left, and took the long journey home. Monday, being our last day in Paris, was the day to do anything we hadn't done yet. So I let Evie have some time to herself and I went out to Pere Lachaisse, which is a cemetery so big it has streets and roundabouts and a MAP. It is also incredibly peaceful and beautiful. Looking for a few of the many who are buried there - Sarah Bernhardt, Oscar Wilde, Moliere - I found the one I had really come for - Jim Morrison. You cant get up close anymore, but I sat, I listened and I paid tribute to the Lizard King. After coming home, Evie and I went on our final excursion - on a cruise up and down the Seine on Bateaux Mouches. Kinda smoggy cos of all the diesel and the commentary was in 6 languages, none of which were English, but still it's a thing to do in Paris so we did it. After some last minute souvenier hunting we went on to the Hard Rock Cafe on Boulevard Monmartre (near the Oz cafe) and Evie realised her Rock dreams once again. A fitting final night in Paris. This morning was a quite simple trip in an Uber to Gare De lyon where we found our train, got on and let the countryside fly by as we read write and munch. Sometimes, things work just the way the should.

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