Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Paris 2: Wet and Cold

So, what do you do when you have a really bad cold and cough in Paris? You stand in the line for TWO HOURS, in the rain, which turned into freezing rain, and then flurries, to enter the Palace of Versailles.

There were two line-ups for the palace, one for the tickets, and once you get your tickets you line-up again to enter the palace. So the smart move is to buy the tickets online to avoid waiting outside. My sister ended up lining up for the tickets, whilst I waited in the other line. The only good thing about the waiting is that you get to talk to other tourists. There was an old couple from the States and a girl from Australia. Since she didn't have an umbrella we ended up sharing and she gave me a few tid-bits about Paris. Apparently there is a free historical walk tour. In the other line, my sister found out about this really good underground art gallery called the Palais de Tokyo. So considering how much we liked London's Tate Modern; we would hopefully get to check out some contemporary art in Paris, as well. I think the best part of travelling is meeting new people from all over the world.

The palace was worth the wait. It is gorgeous and like the most French imperial architecture is inspired by Greek figurines and mythology. The palace was commissioned by Louis XIV and it was here the Treaty of Versailles was signed (Duh!).

The most striking thing about the palace is that it is very underrated. The royal palaces in Russia are extensively decorated with gold and shiny wallpapers. Whereas, this palace was nicely decorated and didn't seem tacky. During the visit, we also saw the secret doors which Marie Antionette used to escape from the palace. The sad thing is that when the French people were dying of hunger the royalty was living lavishly.

Outside the palace there are beautiful Versailles gardens. Even in the freezing cold they seemed so beautiful and romantic. My sister and I were just wondering how could anyone be unhappy in the midst of all this beauty. But, I guess you know how they say that happiness comes from within. Yes, I am being very profound today :).

Photography is allowed inside the palace. And, it is just amazing how the French are so welcoming and open about their heritage. There were no guards present in the gardens. Visitors have the freedom to walk about and enjoy the beauty at their own pace.

After the palace my sister and I decided to walk about the city of Versailles. The architecture here was impressive, and the people didn't speak much English.

We bought bread from this bakery called Paul, which is really famous here. They have been around since 1889. Their bread and chocolate croissant are to die for. I was that embarassing tourist who took pictures of the bakery. Usually, back home I try to be more conscious about what I eat. But here I have been eating the carbs and the cheese and all the French goodness like there is no tomorrow. But, seriously the French know how to live. The rest of us...I don't know what the rest of us are doing.

By the way it is freezing in Paris.