French adventures continues. In the previous post, Jen did a quick recap of our evening at the Louvre. On Saturday, we took in the parks and palaces.
A guest post by Scott
Recently, the Art Institute of Chicago ranked the number one museum in the world. I love it there, and as a resident of the area, I think the Chicagoans are spoiled by it, but after seeing the Louvre, I think the ranking is wrong. The Louvre contains at least three Art Institutes inside it if not more. Its massive, and I’m not just talking about the quantity of art, I’m also talking about the quality of art too. The only thing that the Art Institute has on it is the modern art, and it’s so modern that no one understands it yet. Anyway, I was thoroughly impressed, and I hope to make a return trip to the Louvre soon.
After a restful sleep, we awoke to a quiet morning. At 9:00am local time, the sun is just starting to peek over the buildings to illuminate the streets. The sun is up, but I’d say it is 8am Chicago time type sun for October. We walked to Jardins de Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens). One of us walked and wrote the other ran like a fleeting gazelle.
After our jaunt in the gardens, we returned to our hotel for breakfast that was as french as it gets. Croissant, butter, jam, fruit, coffee, tea, and other pastries. Then off to Versailles.
We had no trouble taking the train there and back. It was an easy ride both above and below ground. Nothing special really. Upon arriving at Versailles, I felt parched. So we decided to hit up a local café for a drink.
Yes, the one place I figured I could get a proper iced tea. At this Starbucks, they did not have iced black tea. So I enjoyed an iced green tea. Very tasty, same quantity of ice that I’m used to. It was a tad stronger. It really quenched my thirst.
We walked up to the palace. Other than my own, I have only been in one other palace, Hampton Court in England. Versailles was very similar. Grand rooms with wonderful paintings, clocks, architecture, and furniture. All of them historical landmarks. It’s amazing to think of all the people the palace would hold as entertaining and living quarters. I even saw some centuries old room dividers. you’ll have to stay tuned for that.
The golden fences and spires sparkled in the sunlight. A simply breathtaking view. We walked straight to the queen’s quarter’s and missed some of the crowds. Although I was in awe in everyone room, I would rather live in my humble abode than to go back in time as a noble. I have learned to be happy with what you have.
After we finished the queen’s quarters, we went through the other parts of the palace expectantly starting in the exit and walking in reverse of the traffic pattern. This against the grain pattern worked great until we caught up with more crowded rooms.
Just a couple of rooms from the beginning of the exhibition, a museum woman attendant told Jen and I that we were going the wrong way. She said it was not possible that we walked the exhibit pattern the way we did. After some back and forth, French and English, She really did not believe me. Finally, I explained the starting point that we came up through the café area, and then she finally consented that I was telling the truth. By that time, Jen and I were hungry and ready for a break. So we did not fight that crowd anymore and worked our way to the café for a baguette sandwich.
After lunch, we went back outside to take in the palace gardens. After learning that our multi-day museum pass does not work to enter the gardens, we took a peak around. Decided that we’d seen enough of the garden from the inside, and went back to make some FaceTime calls.
I mentioned in the previous post about a wifi hotspot. After using one for roughly a day already, it has become an excellent tool. Amazing I know. I am saying the obvious: A smart phone with internet access is actually useful. An American data plan in Europe is expensive and does not allot much data, roughly $25 for each 100 MB. You might think that is a lot, but iMessage, FaceTime Calls, Mapping Directions, Restaurant Reviews, and Google Translate all take up quite a bit of data. In the few days we have been here: 2.5 GB.
One can rent one phone or rent a wifi hotspot and have multiple phones share the data access. We opted for the wifi hotspot from hippocketwifi.com. So, far its been awesome!
Back to Paris, remember it is Saturday, and the weather is just phenomenal. Mid-October, Sunny, 75º F. We really could not ask for a better day. After our restful train ride, we ventured back into the park. This time Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries Gardens).
Saturday felt like a totally different Paris than Friday. It was like the city came alive. The parks felt crowded, the streets energetic, the cafe’s filled with boisterous patrons, and the shops lively.
Again, my head was on a swivel people watching and taking in the sights.
We stopped at the Musée de l’Orangerie, and took a gander at Claude Monet’s Water Lillies. The paintings are breath-taking. No photographs are allowed, and they were quite strict. It doesn’t matter really, because photographs really will not do the water lillies justice. Huge panoramic paintings of Monet’s yard with splendid color and detail. You just have to see it for yourself.
After the museum, we walked along the streets near our hotel for some shopping. One place we stopped is Le Bon Marche. It is Macy’s/Harrods like complete with dudes lounging in chairs.
We stopped at L’Epicurean which for my chicago readers, was ver much like a French Eataly. In fact, I would say Eataly is probably based on these food halls. Samples everywhere. Other areas you were served complete meals. There were cooking demonstrations. Quite fun. We were tempted to eat dinner there, but decided to go back to the hotel and freshen up first.
We struggled with dinner choices. There’s so many options. We settled on a nearby French-Italian restaurant which was quite excellent. At Restaurants, Jen and I used our phones liberally. We google translated words on the menu and were able to settle on some excellent choices. I got Veal with mushrooms and mystery sauce. (Mystery, because I did not translate it.)
With such beautiful weather, we did not need to take lemons and make lemonade.
We did end our day with a lemoncello digestif.
Pour l’instant au revoir