Day 5: Versailles & Eiffel Tower

(2014 Note:  These pages are transfers from my original site so I can better view the many pictures I have from that trip and so it’s searchable within WordPress Search. Here’s a link to the original page!)

Day5

So it took me quite a bit of time (a month or so) to continue the recap of the amazing European trip…from over 2 months ago. Yes, I suck. But I endeavor to get these cranked out sooner than later, as hell, I’m beginning to forget just what it was we did! Part of my delay has been the fact that there are a TON of freakin’ pictures to go through…still. This page and the next have a fuckton of pictures to look through so persevere with me!

Let me bring you back into the vacation mode though – that’s the least I could do. The night before, we all (me, Jeff, Susan, Shannon and Brian) had gone on the kick-ass nighttime taxi ride through Paris. I must reiterate what a fantastic thing that is to do. Do it, if you are ever in Paris. We got back around midnight or so, but had to make sure to get some rest because we were going to get up first thing in the morning because it was time to beat the crowds to Versailles!

day5_versailles

To get to Versailles, you actually have to take a train out to it from Paris, as it’s not exactly right in town. We planned for this endeavor by making sure to leave early enough to get to Versailles shortly after opening, so we all met at our hotel lobby first. This morning, we added another to our crew, Mike. Mike is a friend of Susan’s and is currently stationed over in Germany so he took the train over. He is a pretty cool guy and got along well with the existing group of us.

I ended up using some more of my admittedly limited French skills to buy a Versailles Rail Pass which gets you a round-trip ticket on the RER AND a ticket into Versailles, allowing you to bypass the ticket line there, which is a definite plus. Easily enough, we got there and walked the brief journey from the train station to the palace gates, which you arrive at and immediately are overwhelmed by the sheer grandiosity and Size of the Palace of Versailles. It was the retreat from Paris politics and hubbub that the Sun King, Louis XIV, built – and it’s freakin’ amazing in its scope and over-the-topness. It definitely earns its reputation as Europe’s Top Palace, because while the palace itself is huge, when you actually get to the back of the palace, you see the immenseness of the palace grounds – which you’d need a whole day to walk around and explore on your own.

Anyways, we were able to walk right in and begin the self-guided tour throughout the palace. Jeff and I had downloaded the Rick Steves iPod walking tour which was very informative and fun to listen to – Rick Steves is kind of a dork. But it was a good tour, although the recording was based on an old tour route, as you see, Versailles’ tour path has been reorganized because they’ve finished restoring some sections that you weren’t able to visit before, including the Hercules grand entrance hall and, most exciting, the Versailles Opera House. It was amazing to see that, especially since it was featured prominently in the recent movie by Sofia Coppola called Marie Antoinette (boring movie, but beautiful). There was plenty to see in Versailles, but it mostly served to illustrate how much freakin’ money was spent on lavishness. Incredible. Oh, but if you really want to know more about Versailles, here’s a Wikipedia entry all about it! We finished the tour, walked around the top portion of the gardens briefly, but then headed soon enough back on the train to Paris, which was good timing on our part, as the place got PACKED by the time we were leaving. A Saturday is definitely not a ‘light’ tourist time for one of the biggest attractions in France!

March 31, 2007: Journey to and Exploring Versailles

Jeff and Susan are ready for their French breakfast
Jeff and Susan are ready for their French breakfast31-Mar-2007 07:38, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 141
Keeping it real, yo
Keeping it real, yo31-Mar-2007 07:38, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 141
Guess I'm trying to keep things in control here
Guess I'm trying to keep things in control here31-Mar-2007 07:44, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 192
 
31-Mar-2007 07:45, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 141
The map of Paris on the wall of our hotel's restaurant
The map of Paris on the wall of our hotel's restaurant31-Mar-2007 07:48, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 9.0, 10.487mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 141
Us in line to buy our Versailles passes
Us in line to buy our Versailles passes31-Mar-2007 08:42, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 315
 
Walking the long plaza to the palace gates of Versailles
Walking the long plaza to the palace gates of Versailles31-Mar-2007 09:38, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec
The Hercules entranceway
The Hercules entranceway31-Mar-2007 09:55, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.025 sec, ISO 800
31-Mar-2007 09:58, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 800
 
A better view of the Hercules' ceiling
A better view of the Hercules' ceiling31-Mar-2007 09:58, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 800
Golden something or an other
Golden something or an other31-Mar-2007 10:00, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.04 sec, ISO 800
Me lounging in the halls of Versailles
Me lounging in the halls of Versailles31-Mar-2007 10:01, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 141
 
Jeff and Susan
Jeff and Susan31-Mar-2007 10:03, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 644
31-Mar-2007 10:03, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 800
Hanging out by the windows
Hanging out by the windows31-Mar-2007 10:14, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec
 

day5_arc

What visit to Paris would be complete without visiting a few choice sights: the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Champs Elysees …. and of course, the Arc de Triomphe! This was built to commemmorate the many victories of Napoleon Bonaparte – and it certainly has one of the premier locations in Paris to be situated in, as it is directly at the end of the Champs Elysees away from the Tuileries and Louvre museum. And it is amazing to see it as you travel up the Champs Elysees. Here’s some more info on the Arc de Triomphe from Wikipedia.

We got back from Versailles and hopped off the Metro at the Champs Elysees in order to walk up it a bit towards the Arc. You have to approach it in order to really get a good look at it. The weather started to turn a little dreary and when we were up on top of the Arc, it actually did start to rain. But even with the dreary weather, there’s nothing like being on the top of the Arc and seeing all of Paris in 360 degrees. It’s amazing to see the crazy road turnabout that lives around the Arc but you can also see every main tourist landmark from the top as well. So here are some pictures from our time atop the Arc!

March 31, 2007: Living Large at the Arc de Triomphe

The Arc from the Champs Elysees
The Arc from the Champs Elysees31-Mar-2007 14:04, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.008 sec
An even closer view
An even closer view31-Mar-2007 06:05, SONY DSC-W100, 9.0, 18.7mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 125
I had to take another picture that was similar to one I took in 2002...
I had to take another picture that was similar to one I took in 2002...31-Mar-2007 14:16, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.003 sec
 
Looking up at the Arc from the ground
Looking up at the Arc from the ground31-Mar-2007 14:26, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 116
More detailed shot
More detailed shot31-Mar-2007 14:26, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.02 sec, ISO 141
At the top and looking out
At the top and looking out31-Mar-2007 14:32, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.005 sec
 
There's Sacre Coeur in the distance
There's Sacre Coeur in the distance31-Mar-2007 14:32, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.9, 23.1mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 100
Looking straight down at the turnabout
Looking straight down at the turnabout31-Mar-2007 14:34, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.01 sec
Looking toward the modern Paris business downtown
Looking toward the modern Paris business downtown31-Mar-2007 14:34, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.005 sec
 
You can see La Grande Arch - the hollowed out square building in the middle
You can see La Grande Arch - the hollowed out square building in the middle31-Mar-2007 14:34, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.0, 15.599mm, 0.005 sec
A view of the rainy Arc roof
A view of the rainy Arc roof31-Mar-2007 14:35, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.0, 15.599mm, 0.006 sec
More Paris scenery
More Paris scenery31-Mar-2007 14:35, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.0, 15.599mm, 0.008 sec
 
The Eiffel Tower!
The Eiffel Tower!31-Mar-2007 14:36, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.003 sec
31-Mar-2007 14:36, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.0, 15.599mm, 0.004 sec
31-Mar-2007 14:36, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 3.5, 10.487mm, 0.003 sec
 

day5_sacrecoeur

So a part of Paris that I had always wanted to see was more of Montmartre, especially after seeing the movie Moulin Rouge. Within Montmartre, I’ve always wanted to see the cathedral of Sacre Coeur, mainly after seeing it in Amelie and just having seen it in the many guidebooks of Paris. So while we were strolling around the Champs Elysees in the rain, and everyone was kind of like “What Do We Do Now?” (and at the same time, driving Susan insane…), I suggested going to the Montmartre area and seeing not only that eclectic neighborhood but the Sacre Coeur cathedral. So off we went on the Metro to Montmartre!

Arriving there, you get to street level and are immediately enveloped in a sense of exciting activity and ‘alive’ness. It is a very interesting neighborhood to say the least. Lots of vendors and lots of people. To get to Sacre Coeur you have to walk uphill through the area, eventually getting to the main plaza below the cathedral. And then you have even more uphill walking to do to just get to the cathedral, but it’s well worth it, as the view from the top of Montmartre is stellar, just like from the Arc. Unfortunately the weather was still gloomy, so while the view was still great, it could have been better with some clearer skies. A few of us toured the inside of the cathedral, which is amazing in its own right, but in a town full of ancient landmarks, this one is almost a baby: it was built in the 1800s, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at it. Again, more information to be found at Wikipedia.

After visiting the cathedral, we met up with everyone and started walking along the main street in Montmartre, which takes you through the red light district of Paris (where all the sex/porno shops are) and to the illustrious Moulin Rouge! It is certainly interesting to see all those strip clubs and stores – interesting things that are sold there!

Finally, it was dinner time and we found a cool restaurant in the area that served us great food, but most importantly, red wine and chocolate mousse (our first round of chocolate mousse for the trip – but rest assured, there would be more chocolate mousse, let me tell you!).

March 31, 2007: Exploring Montmartre and Sacre Coeur; having dinner in town

The bustling neighborhood of Montmartre
The bustling neighborhood of Montmartre31-Mar-2007 16:35, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 133
There's Sacre Coeur atop the Montmartre hill
There's Sacre Coeur atop the Montmartre hill31-Mar-2007 16:39, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 100
Closer view
Closer view31-Mar-2007 16:40, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 3.5, 12.523mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 124
 
ME
ME31-Mar-2007 16:40, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.006 sec
The carousel at the bottom of the hill - it was in Amelie too
The carousel at the bottom of the hill - it was in Amelie too31-Mar-2007 16:42, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 111
The cafe at the bottom of the hill - and Susan crossing the street
The cafe at the bottom of the hill - and Susan crossing the street31-Mar-2007 16:43, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.5, 18.776mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 400
 
The same curvy walkway up the hill to Sacre Coeur as seen in Amelie
The same curvy walkway up the hill to Sacre Coeur as seen in Amelie31-Mar-2007 16:48, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 209
Sacre Coeur
Sacre Coeur31-Mar-2007 16:49, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.0, 15.599mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 100
31-Mar-2007 16:50, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 8.0, 7.7mm, 0.006 sec
 
31-Mar-2007 16:50, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec
There's Mike hiking up the hill
There's Mike hiking up the hill31-Mar-2007 16:54, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 204
Jeff and Susan making their way up too
Jeff and Susan making their way up too31-Mar-2007 16:55, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.5, 18.776mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 400
 
Looking down the hill to Montmartre district
Looking down the hill to Montmartre district31-Mar-2007 16:59, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 151
31-Mar-2007 17:02, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 265
looking right close at the cathedral
looking right close at the cathedral31-Mar-2007 17:05, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.002 sec
 

day5_eiffeltower

After dinner, I invited myself along with Brian and Shannon to go visit the Eiffel Tower at night – it was time for Jeff and Susan to have some alone time….

We Metro’d over to the Rue Cler area and proceeded to walk to the Eiffel Tower from the L’Ecole Militaire section, so you get a good long approach to gaze at the wonder that is the Eiffel Tower at night. As you’ll see below in the pictures, the Eiffel Tower is truly amazing to see at nighttime with all its lights on. We also went and walked up the first two levels of the Eiffel Tower via the stairs which is always a fun experience and I think Shannon and Brian enjoyed doing it. To get to the very top though, you do have to take the elevator, which is not exactly my favorite thing to do…but at least at night, it’s not nearly as scary as it would be during the day. The night we were there, it was still a bit murky out there, so the view wasn’t as crystal clear as it sometimes as (see Jeff’s pics from the next day).

Well, there are lots of pics to see, so no more blathering on by me…this has been a lot of freakin’ webpage to write. To say the least. And there’s still THREE MORE DAYS to write about!

March 31, 2007: Journeying to the Eiffel Tower at night with Brian and Shannon

Looking at the Tower from the Ecole Militaire area
Looking at the Tower from the Ecole Militaire area31-Mar-2007 21:27, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 3.2, 9.028mm, 0.2 sec, ISO 800
There's Brian
There's Brian31-Mar-2007 21:28, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 3.5, 12.523mm, 0.3 sec, ISO 800
We would soon be walking this distance to the Tower
We would soon be walking this distance to the Tower31-Mar-2007 21:30, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.2 sec, ISO 800
 
31-Mar-2007 21:30, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.3 sec, ISO 800
Shannon poses with her umbrella
Shannon poses with her umbrella31-Mar-2007 21:30, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 233
A WWII memorial at the end of the lawn
A WWII memorial at the end of the lawn31-Mar-2007 21:33, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.077 sec, ISO 800
 
Getting closer to the Tower
Getting closer to the Tower31-Mar-2007 21:33, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.0, 15.599mm, 0.2 sec, ISO 800
So cool - even with the spotlight
So cool - even with the spotlight31-Mar-2007 21:35, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.2 sec, ISO 800
Different flash settings of that same pic
Different flash settings of that same pic31-Mar-2007 21:35, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 233
 
Here's the Tower again (notice the theme)
Here's the Tower again (notice the theme)31-Mar-2007 21:35, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 4.0, 15.599mm, 0.2 sec, ISO 800
Doing my impression of the Eiffel Tower
Doing my impression of the Eiffel Tower31-Mar-2007 21:37, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 233
Brian and Shannon sing a happy French song for the occasion
Brian and Shannon sing a happy French song for the occasion31-Mar-2007 21:38, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 3.5, 10.487mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 233
 
Even jumping to show their joy
Even jumping to show their joy31-Mar-2007 21:38, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 3.5, 10.487mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 233
31-Mar-2007 21:39, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 3.5, 10.487mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 233
Getting real close
Getting real close31-Mar-2007 21:47, Canon Canon PowerShot SD900, 2.8, 7.7mm, 0.077 sec, ISO 800
 

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