Last week I visited Paris with my mum. We arrived late on Wednesday afternoon for three nights, so we bought a five-day ticket for 35 EUROS each, giving us access across the city by train, tram or bus. We paid an extra 5 EUROS so that our tickets would take us as far as Versailles as a visit to the Palace of Versailles was on the cards for our first day in Paris.
The palace was certainly worth the visit. A huge cobbled courtyard led the way up to the impressive building, which was surrounded by high golden gates and sat on a monochrome tiled outdoor entranceway. As we made our way through grand hallways and opulent drawing and bed rooms, we were transported to another world where money was clearly no object and there was an abundance of luxury. The most fascinating thing for me was letting my mind run away with the story, and imagining the French royals of the 18th century. I could almost see King Louis XVI in the dining room waving a golden goblet of wine at his servants to refill, while Marie Antoinette lazed around in her little estate of her own; she’d recline on the finest of linens while wearing the most beautiful gowns and dreaming of what to spend their money on next, all the while her maids brushing her hair….
Once I came back to reality (courtesy of an Angelina flat white and a miniature train back to the main palace), I realised how badly neglected the palace and annexes are; the rooms and furniture were dusty, the glass and mirrors smudged. I understand that maintaining such a place takes a lot more than a lick of paint and a feather duster, but it is sad that such a special place seems to be so unloved – but perhaps this is due to its history.
Despite the feeling of neglect, the Palace of Versailles is steeped in history and is a must-see for those who like history, art, or even those who simply have an interest in home interiors. If you do visit Versailles make sure you set aside a few hours to explore, especially in summer time when you can enjoy the gardens too.
The next day, we did Sacre Coeur and Montmartre. We took the Tour Bus (32 EUROS each) to Montmartre (this was via the yellow line which comes every 30 minutes; the green line takes you just about everywhere else and is very frequent; and there are also blue and orange lines – all are easy to navigate) so we could people watch in the famous ‘arty’ quarter.
After a quick café au lait halfway up the hill to Sacre Coeur, we found ourselves inside the church (photographs were prohibited and yet some people still took photos, which I found to be extremely disrespectful), which was stunning; the architecture and stained glass are beautiful, and neither words or pictures can do it justice. It’s an emotional experience, one to be lived rather than seen, and it’s one of my fondest memories of my trip.
Afterwards, we stopped for chocolate and banana crepes (natch) and more coffee before strolling through Montmartre where we gazed up at the classically Parisian buildings and admired our surroundings before hopping back on the Tour Bus to the Musee du Louvre.
Sadly, we didn’t have time to look around inside the museum, but we did enjoy the buzz outside and admired more of the golden details that can be spotted all around the city; Paris is dusted in a halo of shiny gold, from ornate lamp posts to solid statues – just make sure you take the time to look up and see them.
Another idyllic, perfectly Parisian moment was spotting the Eiffel Tower from across the River Seine, romantically clouded in a pink afternoon haze.
The next morning was our last day, so we enjoyed freshly baked croissants (two each!) before heading to Gard du Nord to catch the Eurostar. First though, we ate at Terminus Nord, a super chic restaurant outside the train station which had a very Gatsby vibe. We had salmon and quinoa followed by crème brulee and my goodness, it was divine. If you are in the city, you must go! Just be careful; the waiters hustle in style.
For me, Paris is a historic city full of hope and romance, evident in its stunning architecture and unparalleled style. Yet it has a gritty, darker side which, if you look closely, can be seen through the graffiti and street life and the many homeless people living beneath the elegant buildings – a reminder that things aren’t always as they seem despite the attractive surface. This juxtaposition of light and dark attracts me to Paris, a city which clearly has two sides to its personality. Being a Gemini, this resonates with me, and encourages me to delve deeper into the heart of the City of Love.
Stay tuned to The Daydreamer to read all about our super cool hotel, Le Mathurin.
You caught the trip, and Paris perfectly!