You decide that you absolutely must see the famed Palais de Versailles on this second trip to Paris, so after your friend makes you an egg sandwich for breakfast, you head out on the RER-C towards Versailles. You realize again just how lucky you are to be a legal resident of France who is under 26 years old- after paying a grand total of 0€ to gain entry to the Louvre, the Orsay, and the Orangerie (in October), you now get to skip all the lines and head directly into the palace! You’re overwhelmed with the beauty of Versailles, from the grand paintings lining the walls, to the beautifully painted ceilings, to the feeling that you’re walking through a huge part of French history.
You head over to the famed Hall of Mirrors, where you see a huge crowd. You wonder why there’s so many people on a seemingly deserted Sunday morning, but then you hear these beautiful words being sung by an Italian choir. You can’t understand anything they’re saying – they’re singing Italian after all. But what you do know is that they’re making beautiful music in one of the most beautiful halls in the world.
Grab a quick pressed panini and a green tea at one of the fast food stands at Versailles- there’s too much to see and no time to waste! Sit on a bench besides the manmade canal and enjoy your food among the few other brave souls who are out in the middle of winter feeding the ducks. There’s people out for a stroll, and to your amazement, quite a few people out for a run. Can you imagine having the Palace of Versailles as your running environment? Incredible.
Take a path veering towards the right to visit Marie Antoinette’s Trianon (her personal palaces where she retreated from the court intrigue at the larger Versailles). Her palaces are impressive as would befit a queen who proclaimed that the people should just eat cake when they were starving in the streets, but what was truly amazing were her gardens and grounds. She had a farm, a pagoda, and even a little village up in her hideout from court. The sun came out towards the end of your visit, which makes you grin wildly.
Around 3 pm, you’re all Palace-d out so you decide to take a little stroll around the often neglected city of Versailles. Believe it or not, there ARE people who live in Versailles year round. You amble over to the Eglise Notre Dame and it’s a church like many of the other churches you’ve seen in France, but what catches your attention is a cute little bakery near Place Horloge. Normally, this is nothing special, but it’s 3 pm on a Sunday! Any bakery in France that deigns to be open on Sunday is usually firmly closed by noon or 1 pm. But you’re happy with your find! It seems that Paris and its surrounding bakeries sell many eclairs, so this time you get a normal eclair for the cheap price of only 2€. It was delicious.
You head back to Paris and arrive around 5 pm. You and Yuri come up with a quick plan for your last few hours in Paris. First stop: Berthillon’s for some world-famous ice cream. Yuri picks pain d’epice (basically gingerbread) and you get pistachio and coconut. A delightful pre-dinner snack! (photocred to Yuri)
Stop by the Paris Hotel de Ville, which during winter has an ice skating rink in front of it – it kind of reminds you of the Rockefeller Center in New York during the winter when the place to skate is in the open air rink….
You arrive at Le Curieux Spaghetti Bar and remark that this bar must be great simply because of its name. But what brought you and Yuri here is their nightly happy hour special – with the purchase of any drink, you can have unlimited pizza, coucous, and chickpea salad! They literally mean any drink; as long as you get a 3€ coke, you’re good to go. But you and your friend wanted to do a toast so you ended up getting mojitos (normal for you, mango for her).
On your way out you see the Centre Pompidou- what a ridiculous building! How appropriate that the world’s most successful art and culture center is architecturally amazing. Photo creds here go to a google image search since camera batteries need to be charged more than once a weekend!
You head back to Paris’ Gare de Lyon and board your TGV back to Lyon. You smile at the irony that one of Paris’ train stations is called “Gare de Lyon” when you’re actually going to that city. And just like that, your weekend in Paris is over.