Paris Day 8 - The Cold and The Cold??

February 10, 2012

It doesn't matter where you are in the world. If you are all cozy in bed on a cold morning, you're going to have a hard time getting up and at 'em. Add the light-blocking curtains and you might hit snooze a few more times. Even if your day includes a visit to Versailles.

The news is still heavy with the story of the Deep Freeze in Europe. The snow has mostly stopped (though Italy could get hit again with snow over the weekend), but the cold is completely brutal. CNN is covering stories in Eastern Europe (definitely the Ukraine) and it is really bad. Paris isn't insanely bad, but chunks of ice are forming in the River Seine. And that ultimately affects us. Especially when the majority of a day will be spent outdoors. So when we finally dragged ourselves out of bed, we braced ourselves for the temperature. No matter what you do, you can't totally prepare for the cold. Especially on vacation. You just have to suck it up and deal.

We took the Metro to Versailles and walked the block or so to the palace. Damn. It's the only word I can think of. Damn. It's insane opulence. Adele and I talked about it as we walked up to the palace. It seems so gaudy now, but back then, I can only imagine it was considered more normal. Now, you think of people like Donald Trump and Joan Rivers and Candy Spelling and their gaudy homes. This...I guess it was a bit *less* out of place in the world in that time. It just doesn't seem comfortable. I can't imagine the clothes or furniture or life in general would be comfortable back then. And that's sad.

In my continuing belief that I missed the boat on the packing/research for this trip, I forgot to download the Rick Steves audio tour. As I contemplated being tethered to Adele for the next 1.5hours via a headphone splitter, I saw they were giving away free audio guides. Awesome!! It worked pretty well and I looked like all the other dummies wearing a giant audio brick around my neck. And I got some learning in...

The audio guide really made the tour. I might not remember everything they said (still can download Rick Steves and relive the tales), but it put into perspective what was going on back then. The audio people showed us the door where Marie Antoinette fled with the children on the day they were captured. We saw the Hall of Mirrors, where apparently, guests wouldn't linger (like we and everyone else did), but just be paraded through before seeing the King. There was a dining room where the King and Queen would eat dinner every night in front of a crowd. They got high-back chairs. Their kids got stools. Other high up people that were invited for dinner (Dutchesses and such) also got stools. The rest, I believe just had to stand and watch the eating. It couldn't be fun for those people...

We could only see the house, due to the cold. But there was so much more to see on the grounds. Versailles will definitely be on the books for next time. There was a Segway Tour of the gardens. Man!! I want to take a Segway Tour of the gardens!! Stupid cold...

We found a place for lunch, then for pastries (well, pastry) and we began the trip back to Paris. The next stop was Notre Dame.

On the way back to Paris, I watched an American family melt down on the train. I pretty much saw all of the stages of family issues...
Enjoyment - they were excited about coming back from Versailles.
Optimism - the teenage daughter had an idea on how to spend the afternoon (shopping).
Wet-Blanket - Dad shut it down, why would they shop or do anything like that in Paris??
Bargaining - Mom went to bat for the daughter, who may or may not have been celebrating a birthday.
Sulking - the daughter was basically mute for the rest of the ride. She looked out the window of the train and was cursing out her dad in her mind.
Bargaining: The Sequel - Mom kept trying to get the shopping to happen. She also used the phrase, "Let's start again. Because you aren't listening to me."
Resolution - I'd like to think there was one, but we reached our stop, so I'll never know. I'd like to think the dad took the stick out of his butt...

Awesome. Not Disney World level of meltdown, but still...

Walking up to Notre Dame was like walking up to the Eiffel Tower. Bam!! There it is!! You've seen the pictures. You've studied the architectu (Humanities!!). You've watched the Disney Movies. And there it is in real life. We couldn't go up into the towers (due to cold..lsense a theme here??), but we weren't really planning on it anyway. We just wondered around the cathedral and took it all in.

Did you know that Notre Dame is celebrating its 850th year?? Me neither. But they are. I think in 2013, but they are definitely celebrating...or asking for donations to celebrate. It just boggles my mind that something so old exists.

After leaving the cathedral, we walked down a garden area (I assume it would have grass and flowers, just not now) to see the side view of the building. There, we saw a grandpa playing with his little grandson. The kid had to be around 18 months or so. The kid was wearing glasses. And the grandpa was taking him off of the swing and bundling him up in the stroller. Grandpa was just beaming and so cute with the kid. It was just nice to see a little slice of Paris right under the flying buttresses of Notre Dame.

A few blocks away, Adele wanted to see Shakespeare and Company. Again, I had heard about this place and seen it in movies (Before Sunset!!), but I didn't know what I expected. Tight areas, lots of people and books everywhere. But it didn't feel overly cramped. Then, you went upstairs and the were more books everywhere, but also people just sitting and reading. And someone learning how to play the piano. It was a treat. We didn't buy anything, but I don't think we needed to.

We made it to the Eiffel Tower a few minutes before 7p. Adele had found something saying the Eiffel Tower had a light show (similar to the Bellagio??) once an hour. We sat down on a Peace Monument (amidst the broken glass and what i assume would be multiple bodily fluids) and waited for a few minutes. And then...the lights started. We actually gasped and started taking pictures like freaks. It was just beautiful. All of it. The show started at 7p and after a few minutes, It was over. And we got probably hundreds of pictures AND video. Fantastic.

We went back to the hotel to drop our crap off. We had to eat something, so we moseyed down the street and ended up with Mussels, wine and Creme Brûlée. I think this was an excellent end to the day.

My biggest hope for Saturday is that I don't have a cold. It wouldn't be surprising in any way. But man, I really don't want a full-on cold on a flight home on Sunday...


  1. Speaking of Rick Steves, I just heard an old program of his about the French. The reputation of their being aloof is groundless, but they do find our American habit of smiling for no reason a bit daft. Of course, I doubt they are going to notice your happy smiling if everyone is just trying to stay warm at the moment.

    Completely jealous of your bookstore adventure!


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