La Ville Lumière

The first time I went to Paris, I hated it. It was freezing cold (one of the coldest weekends they had ever had) and most of the people I was with were sick. When I was planning this trip, I was hesitant in booking another trip to Paris in fear that I would spent four days in a place I didn’t like. Well, Paris may be the favorite of many people, but I just am not one of those people. I did enjoy it more than the first time and I can appreciate it, but if I never go back I think I’ll be ok. I do think everyone should experience it at least once though because I have met a lot of people who love Paris and I think you just need to make the decision for yourself.

The first day I got to Paris I spent in the hostel waiting for my bed to be ready. Because of the overnight bus, I didn’t get any sleep. I think I drifted in and out of sleep that morning, but since we had to be awake to go through French border patrol and ride the ferry, I was awake most of the night. I feel bad that I didn’t spend much time doing anything that day, but I would have fallen asleep on a park bench or something. Plus, my ankle was killing me so I was happy to rest it. Once my room was available, I immediately went upstairs and passed out.

The next day I woke up feeling refreshed and happy to go out. I was also starving so I went and did what you should do in Paris and got bread for breakfast. I hopped on the Metro after finishing my delicious breakfast and went down to Notre Dame. I’ve been here before, but I thought it was as good a spot to start as any. I didn’t have any real plan for the day, so I figured I would find one as I went.

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I ended up finding and city tour that went around to a bunch of monuments and areas of Paris. My ankle was already killing me so I decided this was the best plan for me. It was perfect, honestly. I was able to see all the major spots in Paris without having to take a bunch of different Metros or busses to get there. I saw some familiar spots like the Louvre and the Arc du Triomph, but this time I got to hear some history on them through the guide that was given with the tour.

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I ended up staying in the next day because my ankle was killing me and I was tired from traveling already. My sleep schedule was finally starting to return to normal so the exhaustion of traveling was catching up with me. Since I’ve already been to Paris and done a lot of the touristy things, I didn’t feel too bad about taking a day to myself. Especially since the next day I had to rest up for Versailles.

I have wanted to go to Versailles for a while, but it didn’t fit into our quick weekend trip before so I wasn’t able to go. I dedicated an entire day to it this time so I could go and explore the Palace and the gardens surrounding it. It does not matter if you pre-book your ticket or if you get your ticket there, the line is impossibly long. I waiting in line for an hour before getting into the Palace and man, it was hot! Versailles is actually not that difficult to get to, but in Paris, I found that there are fewer directional signs than what I’ve seen elsewhere. Once you figure it out, it’s easy but before that you feel like you’re a little in the dark.

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All of that aside, though, Versailles is gorgeous. The Palace itself is incredibly ornate and holds so much history and art. It is set up so that you first learn about the history of the palace and then you dig in deeper to the different kings and their contributions. It’s really fascinating to see how it built up over time and then all of a sudden stopped when the monarchy ended in France. It’s got tons of rooms, including the famous Hall of Mirrors and the Room of Battles with artwork depicting every French victory in their history, ending with the French Revolution. It was cool for a history major to walk through that room and know what some of the paintings were for.

The palace is great, but the gardens are immense. It’s like a maze walking through the tall hedges and then the pond is a fun place to have a picnic, feed the ducks or fish, and take a boat ride. My ankle was clearly swollen and throbbing but I didn’t care because this was so beautiful and peaceful. There are also statues all over that are impressive works of art and are worth a look.

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In my opinion, Versailles saved it for me. I wasn’t having an amazing time in Paris, but now I’ve got a much better attitude toward it. I still don’t think I would go back again, but I do think everyone needs to go and make their own decisions about Paris. I think it affects everyone differently. While some of my friends adore Paris, some of them hate it. I think I’m somewhere in the middle now.

Traveling is also starting to take it’s toll. I’m exhausted and my ankle is constantly swollen and hurting, but how many times do you get to do something like this?

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