Monday, August 1, 2011

Le Château de Versailles / La Tour de Eiffel

Versailles is not in Paris. To get there you take a double decked train from the city and it takes about half an hour. Now imagine it by horse coach. The Versailles of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI was a world away from the poor and hungry mobs in Paris. It's actually pretty easy to see how they could be so very clueless.

Here is where I have to admit that most of what I know about Marie Antoinette I learned from Sofia Coppala's beautiful 2006 film starring Kirsten Dunst. I'm sure the film is ridiculously inaccurate, but the frivolity of court life--the sense that the royalty were grossly out of touch--really is reflected in the palace(es), the gardens, and the estate.


Paintings by Charles Le Brun! and more gold!

 and some of the bazillions of visitors!
Gardens with fountains and music!

Palaces away from the palace. With pink marble! 

Inside the palace, I actually skipped the museum that focused on Napoleon. We'd already spent about six hours there, touring the Grand Trianon and the Hamlet. While I know that Versailles is more than just the crazycakes that was Marie Antoinette, I think that's the best story.


On Sunday, Elizabeth, my London flatmate/Paris roommate (pictured above with the camera), and I headed back to the Eiffel Tower. It took about an hour to get through the line to the ticket counter. Then you can take an elevator up to the second floor (380 ft), wait in another line for another elevator, and ride to the summit (906 ft above Paris). By the time we got back down to the second level, we were ready to be out of the crowd. We walked down 600 stairs to get back to solid ground just to avoid the crush of humanity. London doesn't feel this crowded!

Four of the 2,500,000 rivets.

View from Level Two.

View from the summit.
Paris is a HUGE city.

Happy at the top.

By the way, the French really do make the best pastries ever.
I actually head back to Paris on Saturday night, after my daughter joins me in London. I'm looking forward to touring the Catacombs and seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up at night. I hear it sparkles on the hour.

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