Versaille, Montmartre, and Friday the 13th

When my last blog ended, we had just finished the Louvre, the Champs Elysee and the Arc d’Triomphe. Exhausted, we made our way back because… I had a hair appointment!

Yes, I’d been wanting to change up my hair, and what better place than the capital of fashion? First we had to figure out the correct words; then Aunt Fay delivered me into the hands of her favorite hair artist, Camille. So here, in true magazine style, a before and after transformation…

Tres chic, if I do say so myself! And what better place to show off my new layers and highlights than yet another royal palace?

Getting to Versailles took a bit of effort. It’s 30 minutes outside of Paris by train so we had to go to an unfamiliar metro station, buy tickets (but not at THAT machine, THAT machine is broken), then crowd onto a train. Did I mention that the train workers were on strike and only 3 of 5 trains were running? So by my calculations there were 5/3 the normal amount of people on the train (!!!) In addition, the train station nearest to Versailles was closed for some kind of dramatic reconstruction, so we had to walk an extra half mile each way.

But Versailles was totally worth it. First we approached Versailles and got a glimpse of Louis Catorze and the hordes:

Then we proceeded around to the stunning gardens. We found lunch amongst the groves, perfectly groomed and dotted with, yes, more naked statues. There are also a plethora of fountains which run on certain holidays and weekends. But I didn’t need to see the fountains… I wanted to see the nature! We walked out to the Grand Trianon and the Domain of Marie Antoinette.

 

When we rounded a corner and found this rustic retreat (complete with the fake rock and music temple) I KNEW I was in love. We wandered on, deeper into the gardens, to Marie Antoinette’s fake village where she liked to pretend to be a simple village girl in the Shire, I mean, France:

Yeah, because that’s what the countryside looks like!! Perfect little cottages, manicured lawns, and loads of flowers! After looking at geese and literally smelling the roses, we got directions to the Petite Trianon (yet another palace) from another family of tourists in exchange for directions to the Hamlet.
We came through the trees and discovered: the Jefferson Memorial! Sorry, no, I mean the Temple of Love!

We headed back up the long  hill to the main palace.  I won’t show any pictures from there, but you can imagine – the Hall of Mirrors, Louis XIV’s various portraits and busts, the king’s 2 or 3 bedchambers, the hordes of tourists… Despite all the other people sharing the beautiful mansion, it was amazing and made me want to learn more about the Bourbons and the lavish lifestyle they must have had back then.
Exhausted by a great deal of walking, we made our way back to the train station. We may or may not have stopped at McDonalds on the way.

***

The next day, forgetting that it was Friday the 13th, we decided to attempt the Eiffel Tower. We had disregarded the advice in our book and not bought tickets in advance. As it turned out that wouldn’t have helped because apparently the elevators were broken. We stood in line for 2 or so hours before deciding to save an ascent of la Tour Eiffel for next time. Instead we had coffee at a cafe, took a selfie with the Eiffel Tower, and bought some marshmallow before heading home.

 

 

In the evening, Aunt Fay took us to a nice restaurant in Pigalle. That seems a bit like an oxymoron as Pigalle is the red light district. We enjoyed course after course of decadent food washed down with wine, including a souffle made with caramel and Grand Marnier. Oh my goodness it was like eating a cloud! Afterwards we took a short “constitutional” and enjoyed some famous local sights…

 

The next day was our last full day in Paris and we headed to the church we had been catching glimpses of all week – Sacre Coeur! High on the hill of Montmartre this white church watches over the city.

 

You can take the funicular train up… we took the stairs, first up to the church, then up to the tippy top to admire the views out over the city.

 

 

Then we had lunch at a wonderful little restaurant, Le Troubadour.  I had escargot for an appetizer. Mmm, snails… they were delicious! I might have to make them at home. I also had beef tartar. It tasted amazing but… it was raw… and about halfway through I wasn’t able to get past that and had to stop. But that was okay because I had creme brulee for dessert.

We headed back to Fay’s house where two of her daughters and their kids joined us for a tasty dinner. Here is a picture of us with our wonderful French family… can’t wait to see them again!!!

 

 

We had an absolutely wonderful time in France. Amazing food, wonderful people, and beautiful sights.

But we did have some trouble getting back… strikes by the ground crew made us late to leave, and the Montreal airport has the worst possible system for international passengers. We would have had to go out of security and back in through security, if we had been directed to the right place, which we weren’t (by 3 separate people)!!!! So we missed our plane…  and Delta put us up in a hotel for the night and gave us some vouchers… Thankfully our friends stepped in and took care of our dogs. The moral of the story: don’t use YUL for international flights!!!

A day late (and a few extra dollars short) we arrived back in Rochester. Back to Minnesota, back to real life, back to work!

I am so thankful for our time in France, for our safe travels and our wonderful family. It was a great way to celebrate 5 years of marriage with my husband, and I look forward to going back.

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