On our second day in Paris, we ventured out in the St. Germain area for a quick, early morning run in Luxembourg Gardens. Whoever said the French do not run for exercise is mistaken. We saw many runners, men and women, throughout Paris (day and night) but especially throughout the garden, albeit some of them were likely American. A quick tip – how do you spot the French runners? They are the ones wearing scarves, Voila!
Upon our return to Hotel St. Germain, we were greeted by the staff with a generous breakfast of croissants, yogurt, fruit, granola, other assorted pastries, and my husband’s favorite….a hot cup of Nespresso. On a side note, Nespresso machines and stores are much more prominent in France than in the states, where they are a novelty.
Although we had aspirations of getting to Versailles early to avoid the crowds, we decided to take our time getting ready. In reality, what really took the most time was drying my hair with a blow dryer so weak that a breath to blow out a candle was stronger.
A few hours later, we arrived in Versailles, refreshed from a leisurely morning. Walking up to the little town, we were amused to see a rather large Starbucks near the entrance of the town, no doubt to serve the many tourists that visit Versailles each year. After giving in to our American Starbucks habit, we walked a few blocks to reach the entrance of the palace grounds. Having purchased the museum pass the day before, we bypassed the line and went straight into the Palace.
Once inside the gates, we were able to thoroughly appreciate this historic site. The palace is enormous and truly elaborate with its ornate architecture and decor, and prominent gold features – and that’s just the outside! Its amazing to think that in its heyday, the palace housed up to 5,000 noblemen and their entourage. Wandering around the palace halls, we came upon some amazing rooms, including ladies’ and men’s private chambers and great halls of artwork and statues. My favorite was the War Room depicting the many battles and subsequent wins of Louis XIV.
Beyond the Chateau are the vast gardens of Versailles, featuring more statues, fountains and ponds, and uniform hedges. We admired the gardens from afar and then made our way back to Paris city centre.
We returned to the city with just enough time to walk through Tuileries Gardens – a must if you like to people watch or have children who like to run – to L’Orangerie museum. We spent just under an hour viewing the works of one of my favorite painters, Claude Monet, specifically Water Lilies.
Saying goodbye to Monet we headed back over the Seine via one of the many bridges filled with “locks of love”. Considering the amount and the locks cumulative weight, I can see why the city is trying to encourage other displays of devotion.
As we headed back to the St. Germain area, we made a quick stop at La Bon Marche and its grand epicurie across the street. The main store, arranged by distinct shops or sections, reminded me of Harrods in London, as did the great food hall. Although we left empty handed, we stopped by the notable patisserie, Angelina. Founded in 1903, this uber Parisian pastry shop is known for its thick hot chocolat – rich in taste and in price. From here, we ended our second day in Paris on a sweet note, chocolat chaud and macarons in hand.