This weekend I traveled to Paris trying to do absolutely everything in as little time as possible. It was a lot of fun, only very strange being in a country where I can’t understand a single word anyone is saying (it all just sounds like a lot of throat clearing).
Paris is filthy and not at all the romantic city I thought it would be. The first night we got in and went straight to where we were staying – the host family of a friend who is studying in Paris with the SMU program there and who is thankfully fluent in French. We went to dinner by the Eiffel Tower and had lots of bread, cheese, and wine (I maxed out my carb intake for the next year this weekend), and then spent the rest of the night walking around the city. When you can’t see the dirt, trash, and graffiti, it’s actually quite beautiful, especially when the Eiffel Tower sparkles every hour.
Saturday morning I got up early to see Versailles, which is about an hour train ride outside the city. Now, France has unfamiliar politics than what I’m used to in the U.S., and that day there was a strike at Versailles among the ticket sellers (I found this out after a long, desperate search for someone who spoke English or Spanish)!
Although I made it there around 9:30, I didn’t get into the palace until 11 when they could pacify the employees. It was amazing – gorgeous, gorgeous architecture, furniture, paintings, sculptures, etc. The picture is from Marie Antoinette’s bedroom (if you can even see the bed among the outrageously ornate decoration).
After Versailles we went shopping along the Seine River and then walked through Notre Dame. After seeing a ton of Spanish cathedrals already, the only things that impressed me about this one were the amazing stained-glass windows and the Joan of Arc monument (it was in that church that they decided to declare her a saint and not a heretic). After that, we saw the Arc de Triomphe and ate in a classic French tearoom near there (more bread and some chocolate eclairs, yum).
The highlight of the weekend was Saturday night – they played a rugby game on a screen on the side of the Eiffel Tower and we watched it while sitting on the lawn. Now, the French aren’t as feminine as you might think, because they take rugby as seriously as Americans take their football. People showed up decked out in body paint, wigs, flags, jerseys, and drinking lots and lots of beer. They were yelling ang singing in the streets and on the Metro, and there were even a few fistfights. Sound at all familiar?
It was an incredibly short weekend and I would love the chance to go back. After all, I didn’t get to see the Mona Lisa!