Day 10: Eiffel Tower and Palace of Versailles

Below is the tenth journal entry recording the events of the trip Carolyn and I took to England and France in July of 2006. Day 10 was the last full day of our adventure:

Thursday, July 27, 2006 Paris, France EuroStar

This morning we woke up at about 8:00–fortunately, because we didn’t have an alarm clock in the room. Our room was great!–AC, a freezer, automatic blinds… it was so nice! We got packed up and left our luggage at the hotel, then walked to the Eiffel Tower. It was about four blocks or so (a very rough estimate) and we waited in line for only about 10 minutes. It was 11 euro each to get to the top. It was so much bigger than I’d realized–the base alone looked big enough to squeeze the Notre Dame Cathedral underneath it. It was 95 feet high… to the first floor. When we got to the very top, it was dizzyingly high. It made the Cathedral at Notre Dame look like a one-story building. I thought you could see Paris from the cathedral’s bell tower; from the top of the Eiffel Tower, it almost seemed like we could see the curve of the earth! We walked around up there for a little while, just enjoying the awesomeness of it. Eventually we took the elevator down to the second floor, where we walked around for a few minutes before taking the steps down to the first floor. This one-floor journey was adventurous enough to leave me feeling kind of sick, so we took the elevator down to the ground. From there we took the train to the Palace of Versailles.

Oh yeah–first thing this morning after leaving the hotel we stopped at that place on the corner again for quiche. It was delicious as before.

When we arrived at the train station in Versailles, it was a short walk of just a couple blocks to the palace. (This EuroStar train is shaky, making it hard to write!) The buildings in Paris are huge, generally much, much bigger than the ones in London, and this palace was no exception. It was just ridiculously enormous, much like the Louvre (though the Louvre is bigger than the Versailles Palace).

The palace was more crowded than most other places we’ve been. We took the English audio tour. (Like many other places we visited in England and France, it was also offered in Russian, Dutch, Italian, Chinese, Spanish, and, of course, French. Oh yeah, also Japanese. German is also available some places.) The palace was incredible, as I expected. There was a very impressive chapel, and we got to see a lot of the private and public rooms used by the kings and queens of France.

We saw King Louis XIV’s bedroom, where he died in 1715. We saw the room with the balcony where the royal family was forced to appear before a riotous public in October 1789. There was the astonishing and extremely fancy Hall of Mirrors, half of which was fully restored (the other half will be restored in coming years). It was in this hall that the famous Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919. Strangely, this hugely historic event was mentioned only once, and that only in passing. We saw the queens’ bedroom where Louis XV & XVII (I think those are the right Louis’) were born, and the wife of Louis XIV died. We saw the small hallway off the back of this room where Marie Antoinette fled from the rioters in the French Revolution on October 6, 1789. We saw the guards’ antechamber near this room. On that October day in 1789, rioters stormed the palace and mortally wounded the chief officer (the king’s bodyguard), who ran into this antechamber, shouted, “Save the queen!,” and died (this apparently is what prompted her to flee down that hallway).

On the train on the way to Versailles, there was a dude going car-to-car playing the accordion for money. I’d never seen that before. He seemed pretty good.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Versailles was the gardens. I’ve never seen anything like it! It was incredible: neatly trimmed rows of trees, close-cropped hedges in vast, fancy patterns, and beautiful, brightly colored flowers all over the place. There were several fountains and tons of white statues. It was on at least a couple different stories and sloped down away from behind the palace. It just went on and on forever–we walked a great distance but never even came close to the end. We never even got within sight of Marie Antoinette’s estate, which adjoins the palace grounds. The place was so incredibly vast and expansive that we were able to take a private walk despite the huge crowd that fanned out over the grounds.

London, England Kensington Very Late

The train was so shaky it made me sick to write, so I had to stop. So here we are back in London, at the Kensington Close, room 574–way, way, way down at the end.

So anyway, we left Versailles around 6:00 p.m. and took the train back near the Eiffel Tower. We walked around, visited Rue Cler with its street markets–Carolyn got a yummy chocolate crepe there–then ended up eating at Ristorante Tina, the Italian place where we got pizza last night. I got the same pizza, but this time hot and with parmesan and some kind of red pepper oil with it. Carolyn got spaghetti. I tried some of it, and it was so tasty… zesty… possibly the best I’ve ever had! Then we picked up our luggage and took the metro to Gare du Nord to catch our train. It was easily the most crowded subway I’ve ever been on. We were packed so tight that we couldn’t hold onto the poles while we stood; instead, we were held in place by bodies.

Carrying this ridiculously heavy and bulky luggage is the most grueling undertaking I’ve had since Parris Island in 1993. I’ve probably sweated ten gallons today.

Thus concludes our European excursion to England and France. I’ll wrap up the account tomorrow.

Published in: on June 26, 2007 at 8:48 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. that is where mayday jumped from in View to a Kill the side where the river is.

  2. Hmm, can’t say I knew that. Thanks!

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