Château de Versailles

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Welcome to the Château!

Château de Versailles is without a doubt one of the most impressive places I have ever seen. The château itself is gigantic and every single room is increasingly more more beautiful. But when you stop to think about it, why does every room in one house really need to have gold angels in every corner? Do gardens really need to stretch farther than the eye can see? Well, not really, but it makes for one rather incredible day out in Versailles.

Just a personal chapel in the house.

What if your ceiling looked like this?

Or your lights looked like this?

Versailles was built by King Louis XIV in 1682. At the time it was built, the Château was meant to move the royal family out of Paris and into the countryside. While it still looks like it’s in the country today, Versailles is actually in a Paris suburb, so the “let’s retire to the countryside” mentality isn’t really there anymore.

Hall of Mirrors

Gardens that go on forever and ever and ever.

It rained the entire day!

After touring the grand Château, we walked through the gardens hoping to find Marie Antoinette’s estate. As Louis XIV’s wife, Marie apparently liked the idea of retiring to her own personal estate within the grounds of Versailles. At first we thought her house would be a quick walk from the actual Château, but no. She must have absolutely hated her husband to build an estate so far from home! It took us thirty minutes to walk there!

Marie Antoinette's cute pink estate.

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The Louvre

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My mother’s only request before I left for Paris was “Get a picture in front of the Mona Lisa.” Well, Ma, mission accomplished. Not only that, but at the Louvre, we saw so much more art than I could ever imagine. The museum went on for what seemed like miles and we exhausted ourselves in the three hours when we were there. Unfortunately, museums do close at a certain point so we were unable to explore ever nook and cranny of the Louve, but we visited everything on the map that appealed most to us.

On Friday nights the museum stays open late, making for a relaxed feel inside its never-ending corridors. After 6pm on Fridays the Louvre is free for anyone under 24 (or 26? my memory is fading already), so we were able to enjoy all this amazing art for free!

See the moon in the background?

Do you see how massive this museum is?

Venus de Milo

Winged Victory of Samothrace

The hallways go on forever!

The view from inside the glass pyramid.

The Food of Paris

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Macaroons, crepes, pastries, cheese, bread – the list of delicious foods in Paris goes on and on! I’ll tempt you with some mouth-watering evidence of Paris’s fine culinary delights here.

My favorite treat in Paris had to be the macaroon. Macaroons comes in a zillion different flavors and colors, so it’s tempting to just try one of each. We loved Laduree, supposedly the best macaroon shop in the world. All together, we samples about 10 flavors during our trip. My personal favorites were pistachio and raspberry. We also had orange, dark chocolate, caramel, chocolate and green apple.

Pistachio macaroon - the best of the entire trip

Jealous?

Throughout the trip we tried to find cheap macaroons, because the regular ones – while absolutely delicious – are a little pricey. We magically stumbled across a bakery selling macaroons for only 90 cents! Of course we had to try! Then we looked at the bakery’s name: McDonalds. Yep, we had fallen prey to Mickey D’s clever French disguise. Stupidly we still decided to try the macaroons, and discovered why Laduree is able to keep their cost higher: the taste is just lightyears better. Lesson learned.

Our best meal of the trip was actually during lunch at a cute cafe before we went to Notre Dame.

Cinnamon flavored chicken

Quiche!

But let’s just talk about breakfast for a minute. I am in love with the French breakfast style. I could eat a pastry and sip on some tea any ol’ day of the week. We tried so many pastries: pain aux raisins, pain au chocolat, almond croissant, plain croissant, chocolate croissant. Here’s a sample breakfast:

French breakfast: lemon tea, orange juice and pain aix raisins

Paris also has a wide selection of cheese and bread. So why not have some cheese and some cheese on bread (hello, pizza). Note: never order these items together. Too much cheese.

Cheese platter

Four cheese pizza

Another great meal was in a colorful cafe filled with mirrors and plants to make it feel spacious and cozy…

Mashed potatoes with salmon

Bruschetta with tomatoes, cheese, ham and mushrooms

But what would Paris be without some crepes? Luckily for us, right outside where we were staying was a cheap crepe stand. Those lovely crepe ladies pocketed many of my euros. I tried nutella and nutella banana crepes while in Paris. I know there are many other flavors and possibilities, but I love nutella and I love bananas so why mess with that?

Nutella crepe! Sadly, crepes are not the most photogenic food.

Gaurav enjoying his crepe.

The Sites of Paris

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Tomorrow marks the official half way point of my semester in London. Two classes down and already a week into my internship (at jotta.com – check it out!). But before we jumped into the second phase of the semester with a new class and our internships, we had a five day break to visit any European destination of our choosing. My choice? Five days in Paris!

Initially, I thought we would see everything in Paris in a couple of days, since most people on the trip are forced to see the city in 2-3 days during the weekends. Now I realize I could probably spend a couple of weeks in Paris and still feel like I left things unseen or unexplored. But I had an absolutely amazing time while I was there and I’m so glad we chose to visit one city for the entire break instead of going from place to place.

I”m going to break my trip to Paris down into a few different posts, but here I’ll show you the sites. Look for food, art and Château de Versailles soon!

These photos are in no chronological order, apologies for the randomness.

On our last day in Paris we went to see the Eiffel Tower in the daylight and take some nice sunny pictures. However, I have decided Paris is even more grey than London – although at one point I did see some sunshine and even put on sunglasses.

Guys, it's the Eiffel Tower.

On our second night, we went to the top of the Eiffel Tower. This was probably the best tourist attraction decision I have ever made. There were no lines, the top was not very crowded and we got to see as far as light would shine. Daylight hours during our trip were overall pretty grey, so I imagine the view from the top might not have been that great anyway.

It looks even prettier at night!

The views from the top…

The blue streak is the light that shines from the top of the tower.

Okay so after the Eiffel Tower what else do you see in Paris? I’ll show ya…

 

Notre Dame

The crypt at Notre Dame

The Pantheon

Palais du Luxembourg - the seat of the French Senate

Saint Sulpice

Scary lion - rawr!

The Seine

Arc de Triomphe

Sacré-Cœur Basilica

View of Paris from the top of the hill in front of Sacre Coeur

One of the most beautiful parts of Paris was Sainte-Chapelle, a church famous for its stained glass windows. We waited in line the longest for this attraction because the security check was super slow! When we walked in, we took a look around and were kind of unimpressed by the windows – they were small and the room felt cramped. Then we discovered the stairs, which led us to a huge open room with stained glass windows as high as the ceiling. Suddenly, it was clear why Sainte-Chapelle attracts so many tourists.