Today might have been the longest day we were out – fourteen hours of almost all walking.
Started with a morning trip to Notre Dame. My mom became obsessed with the idea of going inside after we went to Montmatre, I think because after seeing that cathedral she insisted it would be ridiculous if we didn’t go inside the much larger Notre Dame one. The night before, as we watched street performers by Notre Dame, she kept marveling how much larger it was than the Sagrada.
So we went in the morning as it opens at eight and I told her we wouldn’t be coming here after Versailles and not before our flight the next day. It was not particularly exciting inside, in fact, after going in, I could understand why they were thinking of demolishing it long ago. It certainly looks impressive from the outside though! My mom was pretty pleased we fit it into our schedules, and then off to Versailles.
Versailles is a pretty good example of all the reasons why I don’t like Paris/France as a vacationers spot. 1) everything was lines and there was very little shade offered. Versailles is seriously an Asian’s nightmare because you will be exposed to sooo much sun. 2) nothing was really air conditioned. 3) there were very few restrooms and I only ever found one faucet for water, which I ran back to a second time so we could re-refill the five water bottles we were carrying around. A guy behind me apparently remarked to my mom, “you guys were smart to bring those.” I don’t think my mom told him we’d been saving these water bottles throughout our two week trip, and each time we got desperate and had to buy another one, we’d evaluate the plastic quality and decide if we’d keep it in our collection. 4) my mom kept saying the words “the French think very highly of themselves” and after she saw all the architecture, she was like, I can see why. But I think her observation is reason for why at many tourist spots they’d only have a sign in French and no explanation in any other language which I found really annoying. Finally, 5) public transportation to here was a lot more confusing than i thought. And riding the train was like a forty minute sweatfest.
My mom pretty much said she didn’t enjoy Versailles though only because of the heat. We heard another Asian couple say, nothing looks beautiful when it’s this hot, which is true. I feel like Parisian spaces are too symmetrical to be very interesting and hard to photograph. The gardens were nice from a high vantage point but really boring to walk around as it’s mainly just trees and fountains. We did the gardens first which was smart as it was a lot cooler in the morning. Also it saves you an insanely long looking wait to get into the chateau, as most people are intent on seeing the main attraction first though it makes no sense to do that first as the lines are the longest AND it’s only going to get hotter in the gardens as the day progresses.
The funny thing about the chateau tour is, there were not really any signs about the house itself and all the audio guide was about the paintings and some artifacts inside. So I honestly know next to nothing about Marie Antoinette and vaguely remembered she was beheaded which was the only reason I can assume she was not beloved like princess Diana.
Another funny thing is when my mom and I went to the prado museum in Spain, they had a visiting exhibition on Diego Velasquez so when we walked around the chateau, we kept going, hey we’ve seen this!
What I honestly didn’t realize was that the grounds are huge… Like so huge you can rent golf carts to ride around the premises. As in, so huge that even MY MOM the cheapskate was like, we should rent a golf cart. When I got back to work, my coworker asked if I had gotten a golf cart, and when I said we hadn’t, she looked at me like I was insane.
In the end, we walked from the chateau through the gardens to the grand canal to Marie Antoinette’s house. The walk to the house was terrible but at least we made it. Then we took a little tram back to the chateau and my mom kept proclaiming it the best decision we’d made this trip.
Either I totally missed an important area, or I’m forgetting the correct name of the place, but I thought we would see a huge beautiful house for Marie Antoinette’s estate, similar to a two second scene I saw for an ad of Sophia Coppola’s movie. Instead it was a little farming village, apparently created as a retreat for her. You couldn’t even get into the buildings, other than the gardeners house that had been recreated as a bathroom facility. All the buildings looked like a little farming village, Again, I blame the heat for the underwhelming.
Another thing about Versailles – LOL this sounds very complainy but honestly I never thought “this place sucks” I just kept thinking “holy shit it’s hot” – I bought a more expensive ticket for Saturday as they do a fountains musical show. I also prefer doing one day trips toward the end of a vacation, so that worked out. But my mom and I were expecting some Bellagio/Disney theatrics… and it turned out to be just turning on the fountains and playing music. Another guy we were near was also like, are we in the right place? NOT worth even trying to see if you’re already there, I swear.
The ride back to Paris was awful though at least we got seats. At this point we’d barely eaten anything since waking up at 7 and it was 4. We tried to get McDonald’s but you have to order at a machine and I gave up trying to use it, as there was one instruction in French that seemed crucial to our ordering. Also, I realized I’d have no idea if they called out our order number. Finally upon reaching the metro in Paris, we got a baguette and Pepsi in the station. I’m not even upset as it was DELICIOUS. We went outside to finish it and just stood on the street at the Franklin D Roosevelt metro on champs elysses, feeling like this was our first meal after a marathon.
We then walked down champs elysses, supposedly a top shopping destination. Though maybe it was of those things where the more expensive boutiques ran parallel to the main drag, but I was kind of surprised that the street wasn’t lined with top, top designers. My mom bought a shirt at GAP as she had made a terrible decision (even after I told her it was a terrible decision) to wear a long sleeved 100% cotton button down shirt in 95° weather. We went into Laduree, which my mom showed zero interest in and barely even nibbled on the macaroons I picked (Marie Antoinette tea, earl grey and rose).
Then we walked down to the Arc de Triomphe and paid to walk up the 284 steps (that is hard to visualize but it felt … long). I’m amazed they had bathrooms in it, and a souvenir shop. AND an elevator to go down! How did they install all that!
Views were amazing, and we went around late 7 so the lighting was perfect
Then we took the metro to Notre Dame area, ate a small dinner (we shared a shrimp/avocado appetizer and a chicken casserole for €12.90) then walked to get Amorino’s gelato which was my second splurge of the trip after Laduree. Unfortunately there wasn’t time for Berthillion’s as that closes at eight but Amorino’s was delicious. I’m bummed my picture turned out soo crappy.
Then walk back to the hotel for our last night!