Monday, May 18, 2009

...And when you're hungry, you see crépes everywhere! Paris, Part 2

Saturday (Day 3) we decided to head to Versailles.  For my fellow Kentuckians, this is pronounced Ver-sigh.  I pronounced correctly the whole time, so this was just a public service announcement.  It was pretty cheap to get there, less than 5 euros.  It was also very close, roughly a 20 minute train ride.
We got there, and it was, of course, beautiful.

And cloudy, apparently.  I don't remember it being rainy...

Golden gates.

Back of the Palace and some of the gardens.

More of the gardens.

Okay, so sad story here.  We got to Versailles fine.  We started to get in line to go in.  Then we realized it was 8 euros to get in (which we would have paid), but the line was 2 hours long.  And that was just to get a ticket.  Then you had to get in ANOTHER line to get into the palace itself.  THAT line was another 2 hours.  Thanks, but no thanks.  Louis XVI can have his opulent palace, and I'll save some time.  I did want to see the gardens though.  We were under the impression that they were free (that's what Lonely Planet said!).  LIES.  10 euros to get in.  Good grief.  Let them eat cake, I ask you....
So we walked through the small town of Versailles for a while.  Its pretty and not very commercialized, which was nice.  After that, we went back to Paris.  Carly and I split up, as she wanted to go shopping and I wanted to do some more sight seeing.  I went back to the Latin Quarter.  I first went to the cathedral of St. Sulpice.  And I'm slightly ashamed to say this was also in the Da Vinci Code.  Seriously, I'm not obsessed with the book or anything! It isn't that well written but the history and plot are really cool!
Saw this on the way, and I really have no explanation.

I also got a macaroon on the way to St. Sulpice.  Its hard to describe, sort of like a Moon Pie, but more....French?  Two cake-like things with a chocolate filling.  Lots of different flavors to choose from.

St. Sulpice was, sadly, under construction, so the outside shots weren't the best.

Fountain in front of St. Sulpice.

Ceiling just before going inside.

More ceiling.


Obelisk, marking the location of the original Prime Meridian.  Also one of the rumored locations of the Holy Grail.  Seriously, somebody stop me!

Next, I headed over to the Luxembourg Gardens, which were beautiful.  It was a former palace for the French Royalty, but now it is home of the French Senate (ironic...).
Louxembourg Palace.


Catherine de Medici was a Queen of France, but her son banished her to...Italy?  She (well, her money) built the gardens and the palace, and all she got was this corner of the gardens and banished.  Geez.

Gardens + People

There's a little gazebo in the gardens that is for free public concerts.  There was some kind of school jazz band (I don't know where they were from) and they were great.
More gardens and palace.

Next, I went to the Pantheon.  It is not at all like the one in Rome.  For one, its not free (bummer).  Also, it wasn't designed by Raphael and it doesn't have a big hole in the ceiling (as far as I know, anyway.  I didn't go in).

The Pantheon is in the heart of the Latin Quarter, right next to Sorbonne University.

A lot of famous people are buried here: Victor Hugo, Marie Curie, Voltaire, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.  I guess its France's answer to Westminster Abbey.

Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.

Yay! Rene Descartes! I think therefore I am!

After the Pantheon, I headed back to the hostel.  Carly and I had a big day ahead: MUSEUM-ING!!!  
I forget where Carly went Sunday morning (maybe more shopping, I can't remember), but I went to Musee d'Orsay, which houses the French National Collection.  This is probably blasphemous, but I probably liked the Orsay better than the Louvre.  There aren't as many famous works there, but it is no less awesome.  Because it was free for everyone, both places were pretty well packed.  We could take pictures of all the art, so I don't feel bad for posting some of them here.  I decided that I really like French art, but particularly peasant realism.
Musee d'Orsay, a former train station on the River Seine.

This is a good example of that peasant realism.  Millet was one of my favorites.

Inside the Orsay.

I really liked these busts, because they aren't directly facing you.  And they have a lot of expression.  Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux was the sculptor, I think.

French Impressionism is also cool.

This is possibly one of my all time favorite paintings (and I'm no art geek).  It was ENORMOUS, over 6 feet tall.  Painted by René-Emilé Ménard.

There was a whole lot to see in the Orsay.  Pastels, impressionism, sculptures, etc.  I was running around like a crazy person trying to see it all and get back to the Louvre by noonish to meet Carly.  Whew! 
Carly got to the Louvre a little before I did, so she got a spot in line for us.  The line moved pretty fast, so we were in there in about 45 minutes.  The Palace of Versailles could take a few tips from them.  The Louvre is MASSIVE.  They say that if you spent 30 seconds at each and every work of art at the Louvre, you'd be in there for 3 solid months, no eating or sleeping.  So it was a little daunting. But we saw the Mona Lisa!
The woman herself.  It really is small and its encased in bullet proof glass.

That's Napoleon crowning himself emperor.  I might have seen that in a history book.

As most of you know, I'm in a sorority at UK called Ceres, named for the Roman goddess of agriculture (we're a bunch of farm girls, essentially. lol).  While we were in the Louvre, it occurred to me that there was probably a statue of Ceres somewhere.  Only, I didn't have a clue where to look.  I told Carly to look for a statue of a woman holding a sheaf of wheat (the symbol for agriculture).  We were in the Italian sculpture gallery, so we had to be close.  Just when I was about to give up, lo and behold, we stumbled upon the woman herself!
YAY! I found our namesake!

After we had our fill of the Louvre (except there is no way to get your fill of the Louvre), we headed up to the Arc d'Triomphe.  The Champs Elysées is decievingly long.  
High stakes frogger.
Looking down the Champs Elysées.

Carly hadn't been to the Pantheon yet, so I tagged along with her as we hiked back down to the Latin Quarter.  Along the way, we decided that were starving.  Carly's lifelong dream was to eat a crépe in France, so we told ourselves that is what we'd do after we got done at the Pantheon.  Only, we kept seeing creperies everywhere.  I told her, "You know when you have to pee really bad and you hear water everywhere? When you're hungry you see crépes everywhere!"  We saw the Pantheon again (we were under the impression that it was free, like most things on the first Sunday of the month, but nooooooo) and then found the. best. crépes. ever.
Here is the guy making them.  Ho boy.  I got a nutella and banana one and it was heavenly.  For those that don't know, a crépe is just a really thin pancake that you put a filling in, it can be sweet or savory.  Sweet is better, obviously.  Carly got a nutella, banana, and Gran Marnier one.  She said, "I didn't want it to end!"

So. good.

Later that night, we went back to the Louvre to see it light up.
I swear, last Da Vinci code reference in France.
THAT'S WHERE THE HOLY GRAIL IS! (not really, but still)

Kind of underwhelming, light-wise.

Monday was our last day in Paris.  We decided to take it a little easier, as we'd been running around like crazy people the whole time, trying to see everything (I think we accomplished it, for the most part).  I sat around and read in the Tuleries and then Luxembourg Gardens.  Very nice, and I even got a little pink (but nothing compared to the next day).  We caught our late afternoon flight to Nice, and all the remains shall be in the next post.

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