Off to Versailles

The train follows the Seine for a fair part of the 20 km journey out of the heart of Paris

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You know you are royalty, when any oaf will do as a bench

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The Queens bedroom was the most livable, but you had to go through numerous anterooms, sitting rooms and waiting rooms to get there

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Even the entrance to the hall of mirrors is impressive.

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The king liked to make a bed-fort

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Statues with Carolyn

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The grounds behind the Chateau de Versailles are extensive. Hard to believe that this used to be a simple hunting lodge for the king of France.

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Walking back to the train station in the rain. Behind us are dozens and dozens of huge tour buses and taxis.

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Fooling around on the train on the way back. Once again, there were no tourists on this train.

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A hot cup of espresso is sure nice after a day walking around in the rain.

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A drizzly day in the city

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We hopped the awnings down the Rue St Michael to the Seine, then wandered up the river along the very picturesque buildings lining the Left bank, stopping to admire the artwork being sold by the local painters. We picked up one that captures the area perfectly. No pictures since we have the art.

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If we could have rented a scooter like this, rather than the Vespa, then I might not have cancelled our rental for today.

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Today was like a nice tasty dessert where someone stuck an olive on top instead of a cherry.

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A chilly day in the city of Love

We popped into this pub on the way home late in the evening, since Carolyn’s ears were getting cold and had a couple of Stellas. We ordered the 25′s thinking large 25 ounce beers, and got 25 Ml little beers instead, so we quickly switched. We finished out last night with an English pub in the heart of the student district. The place was warm and packed with the college crowd just finishing up a bar-wide game of trivia. Tonight was USA trivia (we should have gotten here earlier and entered).

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We got up early on Monday and realized that this is the day that all the museums are closed, so we decided to spend the day up on hill of Montmartre. We took a couple of trains over to the area and wandered through a slightly seedy district, navigating our way to the hill. Carolyn remarked “Where are all the tourists?”.

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Once we got there we found out. Perhaps they all take tour-buses or something, because none of them came the way we got there.

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It was lovely walking up the winding paths up the hill to the large Sacre Coeur church at the top of the hill, although it got windier and colder as we climbed. The church was very impressive both outside and inside. I noticed a group of Japanese girls sitting at a pew, feverishly praying with their heads down in their laps. I though it was unusual for a group of Catholic Japanese girls in the church, until I looked closer and saw that they all had there faces inches above their phones and were texting madly.

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Next to the church was a square filled with artists selling their art. We found a nice painting of the Seine and the Notre Dame that we purchased, just before popping into a cafe for beers (50′s this time) to relax and warm up.

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The tourists were getting annoying, so we grabbed a monster hot-dog on some awesome french bread and found a quiet bench to scarf it down, before heading back to the city. Who is that homeless woman holding a sign?

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After a quick nap back in our room, we headed out to a Craperie for crapes and a bottle of chardonnay that had in full view of the Parthenon as the sun was setting. Our waiter was very interested in Colorado and gave us his facebook name so that we could follow him. I told Carolyn that she had “that certain “je ne sais pas” thinking that it was that undefinable character that makes a person attractive and interesting. The waiter told us that it just means “i don’t know”. Oh well, so much for French compliments…

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1st Full Day in Parisadise

It’s funny, but our most romantic Paris shots are first thing in the morning, before out coffee.

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As Carolyn expressed this morning, “This morning the hotel breakfast was fantastic! It’s in the ancient stone basement, (as so many breakfast rooms are in Paris hotels. Breakfast consisted of every kinds of pastries, fresh fruit, lox, ham, purcutto,espresso,teas, etc,etc,….i am eating like a camel since I can’t remember our last meal.”

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We spent the entire morning and part of the afternoon playing in the Luxembourg Gardens. There were boucou joggers, families, lovers, and fun. Lots of crazy statues.

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This artist was capturing a likeness of the pantheon, just on the other side of our hotel,

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What the heck is he thinking???

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The kids have the most fun with these low-tech sailboats that they run around the pond and send off with their little bamboo sticks.

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This crazy statue shows just how difficult it is to wrestle down a mule while naked and covered with smashed grapes. It’s all just good old-fashioned horse-play. I’d like to see the statue when the mayhem is over and they finally got the creature subdued.

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A French cop guarding the palace used by the senate now, seems to be enjoying his job. We told him about a suspicious purple bag that Carolyn noticed up on the terrace and he waved some other cops over to check it out.

We went to a restaurant just a couple of blocks from our hotel at about 8:00. This was a place that Kevin had recommended (he also suggested reservations). Since Carolyn and I pretty much take it day to day, we don’t plan things like meals in advance, but we lucked out since there was a 2 week wait, but a couple with reservations 25 minutes prior, had not shown up and we slipped into their table. We ordered an expensive bottle of Bordeaux with an amazing 5 course meal that took us a couple of hours to work through.

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We wandered up to the Pantheon just to burn some extra calories and help digest. I ended up climbing the 7 stories of the hotel several times for exercise before retiring.

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Arriving in Paris

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We took the red-eye into Paris on an 8 hour flight from Minneapolis on the very last row of seats on the plane. This is nice that there was no one else behind us on the plane, but we could hear the banging and chatting of the flight attendants for most of the flight.
We arrived in paris and soon were looking for a bus.
We found one that took us to the Gare de Leon and then to the Gare de Mountparnasse.

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I ended up getting off the bus every time that it stopped, since our bags were in the under-bus storage area and I did not trust anyone not to walk off with one of our bags.

I had to bang on the bus door to get back in since one or two of the stops were just for dropping people off.

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We saw our first French artwork on the way into the city. In the traffic it took an hour and a half, but was less than half the cost of a taxi.

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The down-side is that we were dropped off a mile from the hotel and it took us an hour to navigate our way to the Grand St Michael on the other side of the Luxembourg Gardens.

Good thing that all we brought with us were carry-on bags. Carolyn stopped at a large market and got bread, cheese and Gin & Tonic makings. I picked up a lime at another fruit vender along the way. That worked out well too, since when we got to the hotel, we had to wait 2 hours for our room.

We setup bar in the lobby and made several drinks (man, I miss my knife when it came to those limes). We had the staff get us a bucket of ice. What’s up with the French stinginess with ice?

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The room was a very pleasant surprise. Very nice, upscale and roomy by parisian standards. Apparently there is a huge difference between a 2star and a 3star hotel. Funny thing, our old 2star hotel from the last trip is directly across the street.
We crashed in the room and slept for 6 hours. Carolyn just had chemo a couple of days earlier, so I encouraged her to sleep even more. It’s a good thing that I don’t need to work from the hotel; the wireless connection is very flaky. Carolyn decided she wanted to remodel our little master bath at home just like this one.

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