Thursday, August 14th:
Louvre Day. And boy, was it insane. Utterly and completely. I had been to the Louvre once before. It was crowded but manageable. Today was packed! I have never seen so many people in one place before in my life. Good thing the Louvre is the largest museum in the Western Hemisphere. We may not have been able to fit everyone in.
I was pretty excited when we discovered the audio guide was a Nintendo DS (Luke and Seth would have been thrilled). This excitement was short lived when Vati, Mutter, EP, and I found this younger generation's GameBoy was incredibly difficult to use. This dampened our spirits a little (well, a lot) as we scrambled around from room to room for the first half of the day.
After a much needed lunch break and a crucial Diet Coke, we worked out a better method for the audio guides and were on our way again. We stopped at the Mona Lisa where thousands of people were crowded around to see the very small painting. Don't get me wrong, I love the Mona Lisa and I love Da Vinci but, it just won't do for people to walk straight past paintings from Raphael and Caravaggio, simply to get a glimpse of the Mona Lisa. Ah well.
Several hours later, we made the walking trek back to Hotel de Nice, stopping at a delicious Crepe place along the way.
Friday, August 15th:
Versailles. Friday we took a lovely bike tour to Versailles. However, by this time my legs were about to give out from so much walking and biking already so it made for an interesting ride. A few times throughout the day I thought I might not survive.
Versailles was incredible. I had also visited here before when it was not so crowded. This time, it was as crowded as the Louvre. Or more so. And I have never seen so many Asian tour groups in my life. Ever. Fire safety must not be a priority for the French, as there were so many people in the palace we could not possibly have met any fire code. Anywhere. V, M, EP, and I thought we might be trampled a few times. After Versailles we went to see the Eiffel Tower and stayed till it lit up for the night.
Saturday, August 16th:
My last day in Paris! This was the day we toured the Montmartre neighborhood (Sacre Coeur, Van Gogh's house, Picasso's studio, Moulin Rouge, and more). We also went to the Orangerie last minute on a whim (side note, on Friday night I said we needed to go to the Orangerie if we had time. Saturday morning, Dad asks me, "why do you need to go do laundry?" Me: "I don't need to, I'm leaving tomorrow." Dad: "no, you said you have to do laundry. You said that yesterday." Me: "No, I don't think I said that." Dad: "You totally said that. Maddie, Lauren said she had to do laundry right?" EP: "I didn't hear about any laundry. Oh it must have been the Orangerie.")
Anyway. The Orangerie was yet another highlight of the trip. Everyone must go there at least once. The Orangerie houses Monet's Water Lilies (sigh). These paintings span the entire walls of a large oval room. They are massive. They say the water lilies were painted when Monet was going blind and thus, when looking at the paintings, you cannot tell which direction Monet was painting the lilies from. Some even look painted from an angle underwater. I wish I could describe these paintings. They are some of my favorite in the world. Positively magical. I chose to obey the no photos allowed rule and thus have to make do with rulebreakers' photos found on Google. The Orangerie also had an incredible collection of other paintings.
Lastly, we went to the Vaux le Vicomte. A small part of me thought we may have to buy a different kind of train ticket, but we headed onto the train anyway. An hour train ride later, off we went. In many stations in Paris you have to insert your train ticket in when you enter and when you exit. We inserted our tickets and viola! Nothing. We were stuck! And no one seemed to want to help us. After about a half hour of mouthing through the glass with crazy hand motions to the worker far away behind more glass, someone finally grudgingly came, muttered something frustratingly, and let us out. Tourist mishap. We finally made it to the mansion and, you guessed it, another highlight! I loved this place so much. The chateau was built and designed by Nicolas Fouquet, the head of finances for Louis XIV. Fouquet had a house warming (or rather chateau warming) party after finishing this masterpiece to which he invited King Louis. Long story short, the party was too lavish, too splendid, the house too luxurious, too sumptuous for King Louis to bear. Jealous Louis imprisoned Fouquet for life shortly after. Poor guy. Do not get on the king's bad side.