This weekend my friend from back at school who is studying abroad in Brussels right now came to visit Paris! I love having visitors because a. I get to see people that I’ve missed and b. it motivates me to cram as many activities into one day as possible, making the most out of my weekends. Today we decided to start the morning off with going to the Rodin Museum, which I have been meaning to do for awhile now. The museum offers free admission every first Sunday of the month so that was a nice bonus in addition to being wowed by the gardens and sculptures.
obviously had to put this one up
andrew, josie and I love photo-ops
We left the museum and were beginning to get super hungry so Josie and I thought Andrew totally deserved to try one of the amazing falafels in the Marais. This marked my third time going to L’as Du Falafel (at 34 rue de Rosiers off the Saint-Paul metro stop) because I can’t get over how much flavor and food you can get in one helping. The falafels are 5 euros each, which I thought was kind of pricy in comparison to Mamoun’s $2.50 falafels in NY, but they are huge and even come with eggplant!! Sunday is probably the worst day to go since the Marais is swarmed with people as the rest of Paris is shut down and the line can become exhaustingly long. If you go sometime in the middle of the week you can avoid a line altogether and march straight up to the counter to make your order.
the spicy sauce isn't that spicy, but packed with so much flavor
We scarfed down our food and decided to walk it off by doing some window shopping. Some of the boutiques in the Marais really make me regret having an unpaid internship this summer instead of making some sort of cash. We capped the day off with a trip to MyBerry(25 Rue Vieille du Temple), the only froyo place I’ve seen in Paris which has saved my life considering how much frozen yogurt I have back in the States. All in all, this was a great way to end a great weekend.
Last weekend, my school back in DC organized a free trip to the gardens of Claude Monet at Giverny. We were incredibly lucky with getting weather that was absolutely perfect! The sun was shining and the temperature was just right, a very important factor in the overall Giverny experience. This was really my first time leaving Paris since arriving and driving through the countryside was just beautiful! There were farmhouses everywhere with cows, horses and we even saw an ostrich!
Walking into the gardens was absolutely breathtaking! We arrived early enough in the season so that the flowers were still in bloom and growing wildly. It was very interesting to contrast this trip to the Versailles gardens where nature was completely tamed by the human hand. I do know Monet did a lot of planning with these gardens in terms of choosing what types of flowers to plant and where.
These two photos above are from the gardens that surround all of the buildings including Monet’s house and studio. We then had to take some sort of underground tunnel to the gardens of the famous water-lilies that really exemplified the Asian influence on Monet’s art.
recognize the bridge?
We were also able to go into Monet’s house was just adorable. My family friends used to have an 18th century farmhouse in Katonah, Westchester which was decorated in a very similar old French country way and walking through the house really brought back some great memories. The color scheme of the house was yellow and blue which was apparently Monet’s favorite color combination. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures of the house but I made sure to buy some great postcards.
So it was a great trip and it was nice to leave Paris for a change of scenery (especially scenery this beautiful!) I’m glad I decided to go even though it meant waking up at 7am and would definitely recommend it as a stop for warm weather Parisian travelers.
After this post, I promise the Versailles posts will come to an end. It was just completely impossible to cramp everything into one post because there were so many things to admire and an overwhelming amount of Kodak moments. As I mentioned in the previous post, my friends and I were intent on bike riding through Versailles so we were thrilled when we found a bike rental place towards the end of the gardens. Since closing time was nearing, we only signed up for an hour and planned on biking straight to Marie Antoinette’s rustic paradise.
Getting ready for our trip
Once we left with the bikes, our direct trip to Marie Antoinette’s village was quickly interrupted by a poor sense of direction and a field of goats that we couldn’t help but stop to look at. But we successfully arrived!…with only 30 minutes before we had to return the bikes. Let me just say, I am so glad we didn’t freak out about time and head back without stopping by the hameau because it probably ended up being my favorite part of Versailles.
While all of Versailles is obviously very beautiful, the hameau has a different kind of beauty, one that is more quaint as if it came right out of Snow White. During Marie Antoinette’s time, she had the hameau built as a functioning farm which she could escape to when she grew tired of the hectic lifestyle at Versailles. Only a select group was actually allowed onto the property and the citizens of France got really riled up about the place because they thought it just showed off the excess spending of the royal family.
I quickly became obsessed with this pig!
Everything about the hameau was just so peaceful, it was a place a wouldn’t mind spending the rest of my life at and I found it very difficult to leave. Sadly, we had to bring back the bikes so our stay at the hameau remained short but surely memorable.
Seeing as my only class for the day has been cancelled, I’ve found this the perfect opportunity to continue my post on Versailles. As I said in the previous post, I made two trips; one to the Chateau and one to the gardens. Ohh the Versailles gardens, a place which I’m pretty sure embodies the ideals of beauty. The fountains, the statues, the symmetricality of the design, everything just comes together to create a place that young girls only dream of.
I’m so glad I was able to make it back to see the gardens before the weather got too cold because the vibrancy of the greens and the colors of the flowers really enhances the whole experience. It just amazes me that at one time people actually lived here and while it is incredibly well preserved, it makes you wonder how closely it resembles that time even down to the minute details like the shapes of the shrubbery.
After walking around for awhile, my friends and I got pretty hungry so we stopped at one of the cafes, which was surprisingly not terribly overpriced and I had a pretty good roasted chicken with fries and a salad for only 12 euros. We also got soft serve vanilla ice cream to go and it was absolutely amazing, I’ve never had soft serve with such strong vanilla flavor before! We eventually happened upon the Neptune Fountain which I had been so excited about seeing and it was just as impressive as they say it is.
Soon we happened upon this cute area at the end of the garden that seemed as if it came straight out of a painting. You could even rent the boats, which my friends and I were considering but we were banking on going for a bike ride and the bike rental place was closing soon so we had to rush to that. From there, we took a bike ride to Marie Antoinette’s village which I will be sure to embellish upon in the next post!
I can’t seem to fall asleep, so I figured why not begin my post of Versailles? This post is probably going to have to be divided into two or three parts because I’ve already gone on two visits. Honestly, I can’t really imagine seeing all of Versailles in one day, both the gardens and the chateau are massive!
The first trip I took was during my second weekend in Paris and I went with my school’s orientation program. Allegedly they were supposed to get us a discount but once I got to the ticket window I had to pay the full 15 euros for just access to the chateau (little did I know the gardens were extra. Either way, the chateau was absolutely beautiful! I’ve never seen a place filled with such extravagance in my entire life, King Louis XIV was not joking around when he had this place built.
The line to get into the Chateau was pretty long, but luckily it went by quickly. We also went on a Sunday which my guidebook had recommended to avoid (along with Tuesday) because it’s one of the most popular days since a lot of things are closed on Sundays. While they clearly try to make your trip to Versailles as authentic as possible, with classical music playing in the background, it is just so difficult to try and comprehend what it was like to walk through the hallways as Marie Antoinette with so many people surrounding you. However, I was still able to appreciate the evident detail that went into every aspect of designing this breathe-takingly beautiful space.
It probably took us about 2 hours to walk through the entire place, and as expected the Hall of Mirrors was stunning. The way that the view of the gardens reflected off of the mirrors was indescribable. If I write about this visit for too long I feel like I will just talk about its beauty in ten different ways (although the rooms got monotonous at times with the same general set up just in different color schemes) so I’ll cut it short. This was a visit definitely worth making and the views of the gardens inspired me to take time the next weekend to explore the gardens while the weather is still nice, a trip I’ll write about in my next post.